And now -- on to our Yule celebration! Which took place yesterday. The kids and I spent the day stringing popcorn and cranberries...
...and baking gingerbread men, to hang on our evergreen tree.
When The Map Man got home from work (which Zoo Boy thought was entirely unfair, having to work on a holiday), he and the boys set the tree up in our living room, and strung the decorations.
Then they decorated our Yule Log with greens and edibles.
When the log was decorated and place in the fireplace, we wrote down our wishes for the New Year and attached them to the log so that they would burn and be lifted into the universe (my interpretation) or the spirits (J's idea) or maybe God (Zoo Boy's suggestion).
Then we lit the fire and ate a picnic dinner by the warmth and glow of our Yule hearth. We'll have a fire for the next 12 days to continue the celebration.
After dinner (and getting ready for bed), the boys searched in the tree for gifts. Sure enough, there were four small packages, one for each of us, just like there always is. (Who puts the presents in the tree? That has been a topic of debate for years. I never know what to say, so I've chosen to say nothing, which has led to some pretty interesting theories.)
Each package had a small wooden nutcracker in it. (See one of them above in the first photo on this post.) The boys were delighted and had a bunch of fun playing with them.
Then we continued with our tradition of each choosing a song to sing, while I accompany on my guitar. The Map Man chose Let it Snow. Zoo Boy chose Deck the Halls. I chose Jingle Bells and asked J to play it on his guitar. J couldn't decide what he wanted, so I chose a couple of other seasonal favorites (Sleigh Ride, Over the River and Through the Woods, The Holly and the Ivy, Good King Wenceslas).
And then to bed. It's been a full couple of days, but low-keyed and family-focused, and it's felt really, really good.