This is the only decent photo I got, darn it, but on the 11th, after lots of cleaning and baking goodies and practicing and setting up every chair and stool downstairs plus adding in some from Jo and Aja's house, we had our first annual Children for Children Concert. We had about 60 people come, had about 20 kids perform and raised a grand total of $880 at the concert. We watched all the kids do their performances, then watched the tear-jerker videoThe kids were SO excited as they counted the money - "another $20!" "here's a $50 bill!" "no way, a check for $200!" They couldn't possibly be more excited on Christmas morning than they were that Tuesday night, totaling up all the donations and thinking of all the nice warm clothes and blankets and Christmas parties and medical care and good food the orphans would get thanks to their efforts. And Ashton immediately worked on doubling our total to include the Eyrealm matching funds and when he said "hey that's like $1700 or something - the orphans are going to be rich!" all the kids sat there speechless, smiling with glee for a moment. Now that was a real CHRISTmas moment for me. And when I tucked Ashton into bed that night, he said "Mommy, this was the best day of my whole entire life!" That brought tears to my eyes. As the song says and the kids' experienced, "the very best part of Christmas time are the presents you give away." What a night we had! It was crazy getting it all together, but so worth it! This will definitely be a Christmas tradition for us every year.
And then the next week, we had our Joy School Christmas program and I have to say it was by far the best one my kids have been a part of. Maybe it's because the kids were a little older than past groups I've worked with, maybe it's because I've done this enough times now that it works out better with experience, maybe it's because we had kids who were just really into it - but it was all very cute and Eliza was a great angel, standing on a chair and announcing to Mary "You're going to have a very special baby who will teach everyone how to love." And then to the shepherds "Don't be scared, I'm here to tell you about a wonderful thing! A new baby has been born and he will save the world. If you follow the star you will find him!" She got rid of her feigned shyness long enough to announce everything loud and clear.
Cam was a great innkeeper, Grayce was a very devoted and serious Mary, Olivia had a great time pretending to be scared of the angel as a shepherd and Heath decided that Joseph should hop like a bunny on the whole route to Bethlehem but was very attentive to Mary and the baby once they got to the stable. So cute! And they all totally sang their hearts out on "In a Little Stable" and "Away in a Manger." We have the greatest little Joy School group this year.