It's finally here. Christmas Eve. The day that I wait for all year long. Ivy is now at an age where Christmas is becoming a bit more exciting for her. She knows Santa is coming and that he will bring her lots of toys and presents. It's been fun this year talking about him, setting up the house together and starting all of these new traditions. One thing I didn't want to leave out of Christmas is.. Jesus. This was something that was instilled in me as a child and something that I hold very dear to my heart. I wanted to take her to a traditional Episcopal midnight mass candle light service. I had picked her out a new Christmas dress and and dress jacket with a matching hat at the store that year. I was anxious to be able to see her all dressed up and her reaction when we got to the Church. I didn't tell here where we were going .. just somewhere special to Mommy. The Church was nestled in the city (which she loves). So.. after our traditional Christmas Eve dinner (and her making mashed potato snowmen in her dish.. goodness help me!) we got ready and headed into town. It had started to snow some on the way there and just set the scene for a beautiful Christmas Eve.
Potato Snowman .. goodness! Getting her new dress coat on with her hat. We drove for about 45 minutes before we made it into the city.
We finally arrived and one of the first words out of Ivy's mouth was .. "A castle, Mommy!" Well.. in a way it was. The Church was very, very beautiful. I explained to her that we were going to Church and going to sing some Christmas Carols and hold pretty candles. She was excited to be able to sing and be inside of the 'castle' So.. we headed up the walkway and towards the large welcoming doors.
We sang carols after the sermon and each held our candle. I was so proud of her trying to sing her carols... she didn't really know the words to many of the songs.. but she sang right long. That's my girl!
.. a few of the carols we sang ..
Midnight Mass is when Christmas really starts for me. I feel my heart swell and my emotions get away with me. It's something that had always touched my heart.
The last song we sang is one of my favorites. They dimmed all the lights and we all sang with candles.. it was simply breathtaking..
The drive home was quiet and incredibly peaceful. Ivy fell asleep for the 45 minute drive. We still had to leave out a platter of cookies, a glass of milk and carrots for the reindeer. We still needed to set up our nativity scene - it's a wonderful thing to set up Christmas Eve. I had picked out a book about the manger to help her understand what happened on Christmas Eve so long ago. When I pulled in the driveway Ivy was still asleep. I opened the back door and gingerly helped her out of her carseat and draped her over my shoulder. She started to stir when we got in the house and Rosemary started barking. We got our cold winter coats off and went to gather up our supplies for Santa. Since we have two fireplaces in the house.. we had to leave two sets of cookies and milk out for him. What a smart girl! After all was settled we sat down to read "The Child in the Manger" & "The little Red Elf" After we finished with our stories I thought it would be a good time to set up the nativity. She was really interested in where we might put each piece and where the baby Jesus might go. We had a good time setting up.. but it was getting very late and Santa was on his way. I carried her upstairs and rocked her until she fell asleep. Before she had fallen asleep I had told her to stay in bed until morning. That she could come in and wake me up but not to go downstairs until I was up with her. She promised me she would stay upstairs and drifted off to sleep. A few hours later.. Ivy was awoken by a thud on the roof and the jingling of bells.. could it be?! SANTA?! Even though she had promised me she wouldn't get up ... she got out of bed and crept down the stairs to see the man in the big red suit.. it was really him! She worked up the courage to come out from behind the chair and make her way over to Santa and say hello. He told her how much he loved the cookies she baked and that the reindeer would love the carrots. She even got a big snuggle from Santa before he ushered her off to bed. She ran back up to her bedroom to look out the window and see if she could see Santa on the roof -- and she could! He gave her a little wink and a wave and he was off into the night. Santa rode his sleigh off into the night and exclaimed "Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight!" Ivy giggled to herself as she had seen Santa twice this year! She climbed back into her bed and laid down to sleep until the morning came..