Day Four started early--3 AM when I heard Alex crying hard. His mom and dad, both struggling with bad colds, did not hear him. I did my best to calm him down, give him a bottle, and sing to him. At first I was optimistic as his little eyes closed and he stopped wiggling. And then he'd bat the bottle away or throw the pacifier on the floor and try to get out of my arms. I gave up after 30 minutes and woke up Laura who did get him back to sleep after a bit of nursing and another bottle.
Amazingly enough, we all slept in until 8 am. Laura heard voices downstairs and Sam, age 6, had helped Alex out of his crib and carried or dragged him downstairs. He meant to be helpful but he was told not to try that again!
I left Laura's around 10:45 for the 65 minute trip back to Princeton. It was easy enough but once again I was so grateful for the voice that directed me from my iPhone. "At the exit stay left and then take a right to merge with I 476." At one point I passed a two mile marker and wondered where was she? Had she missed this one? No, just a few seconds behind.
When I got to Jeff and Susan's, I knew Jim was there and yet felt startled to see him sitting in their living room. I made the banket which I had started the day before. We checked into the Courtyard by Marriott around 3 and then headed to the Princeton Symphony Orchestra Holiday Concert at 4. Both Katie and James were singing in the Princeton High School choir. When they began with "I saw three ships," I had tears running down my face. I'm not sure why. The choir was singing beautifully but it was also knowing that James was one of those deep bass voices and Katie was, as always, singing with such intensity and expression. I was overwhelmed again by the Hallelujah Chorus but then it was the powerful words as well. I felt far less emotion during "The Twelve Days of Christmas!"
Jeff and I picked up Olive Garden take out--five big bags--and brought them back to the house for dinner for 12 of us because Laura's family made the trip to join us. It was a smorgasbord of Italian food with soup, salad, breadsticks, wine and a variety of pasta dishes. (Smorgasbord--a Swedish work? maybe just buffet?)
Katie and James and Michael are so good with the little kids. Alex loves everyone's attention and came through with lots of smiles and laughter. His wobbly steps are so precious and getting stronger each day.
Now we are back at the Courtyard and it is really just fine to be with the two of us for a few hours.
We left the Courtyard by 8:45 and thought we knew better than the iPhone guide. We were wrong. We adjusted and made it to Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church with a few minutes to spare. It was a very traditional service with an organist who tone-painted the hymns with different stops and drama. It does call attention to the words, but in some sense it seemed like a performance. I appreciated the sermon on the Magnificat in which Rev. Norfleet mentioned that in some times and places those words were left in Latin or forbidden entirely because of their subversive content.
It was fun to witness the Christmas Eve Pageant rehearsal in which Jasper had a speaking part and Sam and Ruth were sheep. I'm glad that Laura signed them up to participate. Jasper's voice was so clear and poised.
Jeff and Susan and family joined us for a great ham dinner this time including Dan too. We opened lots of gifts. With 14 of us, it takes a while!
In some sense, the excitement of Christmas is over for Jim and me. Each family can celebrate Christmas in their own homes with their own traditions. Dan will be leaving for a week's vacation in Mexico with friends so he will be fine too.
We will worship at our church's Christmas Eve Candlelight Service and then probably not do much of anything on Christmas Day. We may be ready for a very quiet day in our own home at that point.