Philip Newton (pne) wrote,
Philip Newton

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Christmas for me so far

Yesterday morning, we went to church, as we do every Sunday.

Services were shortened, though; they dropped Sunday School so it was just Priesthood/Relief Society and Sacrament Meeting: only two hours rather than three.

I'm not quite sure why this was (one rumour was that it was to ease the stress on families who traditionally do a lot of preparations on Christmas Eve, such as putting up and decorating the tree, etc., as is apparently common here in Germany). Shortening church services on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve always seems backwards to me somehow, though.

My thoughts go something like this: Christmas means different things to different people (or it means several things, but in different proportions to different people). For example, Christmas can be: family time; a gift-giving time; Christ-centred time; peaceful time; a time to decorate things; and other things.

But it would seem to me that regardless of what individual members think, from a church point of view, the focus on Christ should be the most important to centre on at Christmas... so modifying services so that people have less time to speak about the gospel in general and (hopefully) Christ in particular at Christmas, compared to "regular" Sundays, seems odd to me.

But anyway.

In the afternoon, we had Christmas dinner. Stella had cooked some lamb (which she had had to look around a bit for in order to find it, since Germans tend to eat lamb at Easter rather than around Christmas) and had made some red cabbage from scratch as well as some potato... things. Kind of like croquettes? Things presumably made out of mashed potato, squeezed through a screen to look like smiley faces, that you bake in the oven.

Anyway, the meal was really good. The meat was tasty and tender (it was, as the Germans, say, "a poem"), the red cabbage was not as tart as the kind you get in tins, and the potato things were good as well once you had some gravy on them.

In the afternoon, we went outside for a walk; after we came back, we read "the Christmas story" (the start of Luke chapter 2) from the Luther translation and sang Christmas songs.

In the evening, Sonja came over with her sister and her two children so that we could occupy them here while the gifts and everything else were set up in their home. How fortunate that we exchange our gifts on Christmas morning rather than Christmas Eve, so they weren't interrupting us :)

Before we went to bed, we put the presents under the Christmas tree.

This morning, we got up and went into the living room with Amy. Amy had got a stove and sink and a set of plastic dishes and "silver"ware; it was difficult to tell what was going on in her mind when she saw her presents, but she seemed to like them well enough.

(Stella says the gifts were from Father Christmas; I'm not quite sure what I think about the whole telling children about Father Christmas thing. Lovable story that gets them excited? Or setting them up for disappointment when they find out there's no such thing? Despicable lie? Or harmless little fib?)

Stella got some tools from me, and some chocolate; I got some books from her.

Backstory for both of those: I had trouble finding a gift -- specifically, something (a) that didn't suck and (b) that I could afford (not to mention that she might like). I found it a bit stressful looking for something, but she seemed to appreciate what I got for her.

As for my gift, when I looked up the November Liahona in order to prepare my lesson, I saw that there was an insert from the church distribution centre detailing some of the things you could order from them, and decided to get a few more translations of the Book of Mormon for my collection. When I told Stella about that, she asked me whether she could give them to me as a Christmas present (essentially: whether she could deduct the credit card charge from her money rather than letting me cover it from my money), and I said yes. So I knew in advance what I was going to get, but at least that way both of us knew it would be something I wanted :)

I was a bit disappointed that two of the translations on my short list were currently not in stock (the Simplified Chinese one the lady on the phone already told me about; the Haitian Creole one I read about on the packing slip), and that apparently the Afrikaans BoM came not only in softcover (which I had ordered) but in hardcover, too. But still.

So I got: Traditional Chinese, Afrikaans, Hmong, Catalan, and Turkish.

I already had Selections from the Book of Mormon in Turkish, but didn't know that the entire book was now available, so I got that. Catalan is an addition to my Romance selection, which I think may be complete now (I'll have to look and see whether I have Romanian). I didn't know the book was translated into Catalan, since I figured everyone who spoke Catalan also spoke Spanish or Italian (though quite possibly not as well), but apparently there's been a Catalan translation for about 25 years. Whee!

And fortunately, they arrived on the 23rd, in time for Christmas.

Tomorrow, we'll be having a little family get-together at my sister's house, where we'll exchange family gifts.

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