Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Just Write - a prompt I have seen on several other blogs...is hard for me. I feel like I have to actually have a point when I post. Of course, that leads to no posts.

Thanksgiving and Christmas have come and gone...no posts. Although, I have been very busy with the Christmas season - not an excuse, just fact. When we were in the middle of losing our twins, I just wanted it to be time to get ready for Christmas, so I had something else to focus on. Something joyful. So, as soon as Thanksgiving was over, we went whole hog. I embraced the season as I haven't in many years. I baked my heart out. We did several projects, and had a blast all Advent long. A couple of the things we did, I would like to make a annual tradition, I loved them so much.
Jeffery Fam 2011

One of the first things we did was to really celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas. We have actually been doing this for a number of years, but this year I let the teacher in me escape just a little. Oh, how I wish I could let her out all the time, but I am afraid of what she might do. We wouldn't get a whole lot of lessons done, but we would bake, and do art, read stories and find ways to weave our lessons together so that they made more sense. We would do all art, literature and history, with very little math or science - just the bits that would leak in with the baking or other activities. We would play all day and learn about all the saints and never do much actual book learning. So, I have to keep her under control. (I think I am an unschooler at heart, but afraid my kids won't learn enough so I have to have some structure!)

So, back to St. Nick. The arrival of his feast day is always met with chocolate coins in the shoes or stockings, and candy canes for the tree. We put the tree up over Thanksgiving, but save the candy canes for this special day. This year I made up work for my sisters to do little goodie bags with coins, candy canes and worksheets for all my nieces and nephews to do on the feast day as well. I put them in little Santa bags, hoping to inspire them to want to learn more about Saint Nick. So, my kids got up that morning and were pleased to discover the coins. We had fun reading the story of how St. Nick decided to help some young maidens with their dowries by tossing bags of gold coins down the chimney so they could get married. We went on to read about his staff, and how candy canes are just the same shape. All these stories and more can be found at the St. Nicholas Center. I had so much fun choosing the stories and coloring pages.

My husband and I also carved more than our usual share of time out together to do our shopping. We had several afternoons of going out to lunch, shopping for gifts and just enjoying the season and being together. He is not as big a fan of Christmas as I am, but he's coming around. When I met him he was a bit of a "Bah-Humbug!" sort, with a tiny little Charlie Brown tree. Now, as the father of so many children, he has been forced to love it a little more. He joined me in the kitchen, or rather, I joined him, and we cooked and baked so much, we were vying for counter space! Me and my cookies and sticky buns, him and his fudge and turkeys and hams and mashed potatoes. We had a lot of fun delivering treats to loved ones.

We also had our first annual cookie eating and ornament making party. It was so much fun! We had an open house and invited my sisters and my close friends and their children to come over. Moms sat and talked, kids ate cookies and painted wooden ornaments to take home. I really, really loved this and plan to make it part of our Advent from now on. We kept everything super casual,and I think it was a success.
The Karcher family has a long standing tradition we call "Cookie Day". All the moms and kids gather at my mom's house and we bake all day long. We used to try and do ALL of our Christmas cookies that day, but as more and more children came, that just got to be too hard. Nowadays, we just do gingerbread men and cut-out cookies. We all bring dough ready to be rolled, and just let the kids take turns rolling, cutting, decorating and of course, eating their little hearts out. I look forward to this day with a mixture of trepidation and joy. Joy because the kids love it, but man, it can be a little stressful. This year, though, I think we finally have it down to a science. One mama to monitor each phase of cookie creation, and putting the bigger girls in charge of watching over decorating, and we flew through it all - about 200 dozen cookies - with ease. Not too shabby, considering there were 4 toddler boys, 1 newborn, so many eager, small, blond girls I have lost count, and a bunch of big and small boys all waiting for their turns at each station. Luckily we have lots of older girls to help keep everything running smoothly.

Our youngest daughter, Jenna takes tap dance lessons with her cousin, MaryKate. They had a fun, not nearly as stressful as the Spring recital, recital. It was very fun and Christmasy to watch as they tapped along to "Jingle Bell Rock".
The week leading up to Christmas I of course wrapped and wrapped. And make candy. And cookies. And cinnamon rolls. And pies, and sauces for the pies. I was so tired, but having such a good time. I truly didn't want it to be over too quickly. Fortunately, we got a bit of a longer Christmas this year. We took a brunch of  breakfast casserole, cinnamon rolls and mandarin oranges to my in-laws house on Christmas Eve morning. We had a lot of fun just hanging out, watching the kids play, and getting some nice, quality time with my husband's brothers and mom and dad. It was really, really nice. No rush to be anywhere, the kids played and talked. We had a great time.

After a bit we had to go and get ready for Mass, where our Luke would be a shepherd, my big boys, Jonah and Kolbe would serve Mass, and my girls would sing in the choir. Christmas Eve Mass is always, always my favorite part of Christmas. All the sweet little voices of the children's choir singing "Pa rump pa pum pum" and yelling "Go Tell It on the Mountain". Every year I wait for that, and just sit and savor that moment. This year, as has happened in other years, we were getting all these kids where they needed to go for the Mass, and missed out on sitting in the church. Always bums  me out a little. I have to work pretty hard at not being truly annoyed at the people who only go to church at Christmas and Easter (the Chreasters, as our pastor puts it). I know its small and petty, and I really don't want to feel that way at Christmas, but when I have to miss seeing my children in the choir because of people crowding the church one day a year, I get a little peeved. Off soapbox!

At home we get dinner, baths, and tuck wee ones into bed after reading the Christmas story from Luke. Most of the time the bigger kids are strangely willing to go to bed early, and this year was no exception. Kolbe, who is nine, was really worried that we weren't going to bed, too. He didn't want to take a chance that Santa wouldn't stop because we were still up. If he actually believed in Santa, that is. This year took a lot of work to keep him believing. The clincher was a handful of old jingle bells donated to the cause by Liz's mom. She knew Kolbe was having a hard time believing this year, and thought that the old jingle bells, left just for him, might do the trick. She was right! Doug Santa writes a letter to the kids every year. Each child gets a mention  - what they have been good about, and even what they have been naughty about. This year, Santa chose to leave the bells for Kolbe because he has become such a hard worker, and so much help to his parents, and that kind of thing is high up on Santa's list! He has carried the bells around in a bag every since. I love that my oh so very logical, please explain it to me in detail son still believes.

The Seven, as I call them, on Christmas Eve
Christmas morning didn't arrive until after 8am, thankfully. We got up and had the best time watching the kids tear open the carefully selected and wrapped gifts. I was thrilled this year that each child got at least one gift that I knew would be dear to their hearts. I think they had a really nice Christmas, and I know how blessed we are to be able to do that this year. We had a leisurely day, playing with new toys, getting ready slowly throughout the day to go to my parents' house for Christmas dinner. Dinner with all of us are always a little chaotic, but this year it was worse, due to my suggestion that we do a buffet. You have to plan that sort of thing, ya'll. You can't just do it on the fly when there are almost 40 hungry people standing around! So, we learned a little, coped, and then settled in for the fun. Kids had a sweet gift exchange where each cousin presented their secret person with a gift. Many of them were so excited to see the recipient open the gift - it just made everything even sweeter. To top off our super gooey evening, my sister got her picture - the other thing we (by we, I mean Doug) do every year. He draws a portrait of every new baby every year. Many years he has had two to do, but this year there was just sweet Spencer, my sister's youngest.

Now, I said that church is my favorite thing at Christmas, but this year I had a new favorite moment. Two of them, actually:


Cousins, Jenna, MaryKate and Reagan and the little guy is Sam, my brother's son. So, so lovely.

If you are still reading this, Merry Christmas, and a Blessed, Happy New Year. Christmas isn't over yet! The Feast of the Epiphany is Sunday!  I am going to Christmas it up until then...not ready for it to be over just yet...


  1. Lovely lovely post Megan! Love to hear about your season and how wonderful it was -- really I am so glad you enjoyed it (I know you did), and your heart and soul were in it, and it definitely shown! Thanks for having us be a part of it -- loved all your pics and videos and descriptions..and you're right..it's still here...Epiphany is the icing on the Christmas tide cake :) Many blessings to you! Love ya!

  2. P.S. I think the children's nativity choir did EXCELLENT this year and did you notice that ALL the children dressed in costume parts?? First year ever that ALL of them opted to dress up! I was VERY impressed and wanted to squeeze them all!!!

  3. I thought it was all lovely! The kids really sang, and yes, the costumes just kill me. They were all so earnest. I had to get up and just go stand it the church so I could see and hear them, but I did it anyway.
    I did enjoy just about every aspect of Advent and Christmas this year. We were also blessed to do a few other projects, and those just added to the spirit of Christmas.
    The Laubacher and Gillis families just feel like family to me, and I am so glad we have been a part of each others lives and Christmases for more than 16 years now! Amazing!


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