We’ve had a delightful Christmas season in Wisconsin. It started out bitterly cold in early December and rose to a high yesterday of 43 – the first time it was above freezing in weeks! We have almost a foot of snow on the ground, the result of several small to medium sized snowfalls but no huge storms.The girls have been sledding on a hill near us but we are still searching for a big hill! There are lots of parks in Madison we have yet to explore and as I have previously mentioned, Wisconsin is not flat so surely we’ll find something. We recently discovered an outdoor ice rink in a park near our house that is maintained by the city of Verona. They were spraying it the other day so it ought to be nice and smooth. Time to pull out the skates!
We started the season early by helping to decorate the performance hall for the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra’s Holiday Pops concert just after Thanksgiving. A local company loaned two beautiful old restored sleighs to put in the lobby. They were truly works of art and the girls got a kick out of pretending they were on a sleigh ride.
We went on an actual sleigh ride a few days ago. The percheron horses that pulled the sleigh were incredibly impressive. The owner said it was not difficult at all for the two horses to pull the heavy wooden sled with twenty or so people inside. As a matter of fact one of them could handle it but he brought two so they wouldn’t get tired over several hours of rides. For us it was a revelation that there is always snow on the ground for this annual event, unlike in Massachusetts where you never know what winter will bring.
We found a huge Christmas tree farm from which to choose our tree. We went out on a 20 degree day with a light snow and after lots of traipsing around (and 4 pairs of cold feet) finally cut down a fir. We hadn’t brought a tape measure and when we got home Mark was disappointed that it wasn’t taller! He wanted one that reached to the top of our high-ceilinged living room. It does fill the front window quite nicely though, so it looks good from inside and out. Our movers had somehow managed to leave a giant box of ornaments and lights in the attic of our house in Massachusetts. They got everything else out of that space but somehow missed this important box – go figure. Our realtor very kindly packed it up safely and mailed it to us so we were able to have that annual trip down memory lane, admiring beloved ornaments.
Mark and I went to a cocktail party at the Madison Club one weeknight. It was a fun chance to get dressed up and go downtown. We only knew a few people but lots of folks were very friendly and we ended up meeting two couples who live near us. A few weeks later we splurged and took the girls to a holiday brunch there. It was lavishly decorated and the buffet had an amazing variety of delectable food to choose from. Mark persuaded (forced?) the girls to pose with Santa and we all went home happy and sated. The 5 degree weather kept us from walking to the square to see the Christmas tree in the Capital but there’s always next year!
Mark and I loved not running around like crazy playing gigs all during December and were surprised at the amount of family time we had. We watched Olivia dance a beautiful Waltz of the Flowers with the Verona Youth Ballet and enjoyed seeing Madison Ballet’s version of the Nutcracker. The girls and I laughed and dabbed our eyes during the Children’s Theater of Madison’s A Christmas Carol, remarking that perhaps that will become a new tradition for us. The girls had friends over to decorate gingerbread houses and Olivia even ventured past the graham cracker type for a stab at real gingerbread. Lots of sugar was consumed!
Christmas day we opened presents and had a big breakfast that we all helped prepare. The rest of the day was spent reading, playing new games and watching movies. It was quite peaceful and relaxing, just as it should be.