Tuesday, January 03, 2006

I finally get around to saying "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year"

It's been a busy and intense month, and yet it's been lots of fun. There are many traditions at the farm around the holidays, and the residential team, as farm activities planners, was in charge of coordinating all of them. The biggest tradition was "bringing down the tree" in which we sing carols as we travel up the hill behind main house, where we find a perfect tree that has magically (by way of Forestry and Grounds team cutting it down and "replanting" it at the top of the hill) grown there. We then "cut it down" and drag it back down the hill and into the living room, where we continue singing and telling stories and making ornaments while we decorate the tree as a community. It went quite well and was fun for all involved, but it also involved a lot of ahead of time planning and stress.

Other traditions include the following: lighting of a tree outside while singing carols (this year it had to be a maple because our spruce has grown too tall); Christmas eve dinner; New Year's eve dinner; yankee swap (white elephant gifts); gift giving to the guests; Christmas brunch; Christmas day activities; New Year's eve activities (dance, etc.); sending Christmas cards to the families of all the guests who have been here over the year; wreath making; decorating the farm; and it feels like I'm forgetting things... That's all on top of our normal duties at night and driving during the day. And we are understaffed (6 people on our team). And half of our team (Seth, Michelle, Rebecca) went home over Christmas. Needless to say, it's been lots of work and lots of extra hours that didn't get recorded.

So I hope you'll forgive me for not having blogged for quite a while...

All that said, it has really been fun seeing the holidays play out here at the farm and seeing all our hard work being rewarded through the excitement and "at-home-ness" of many of the guests.

I also had a lot of fun with music this season -- I was leading a farm choir that was quite proud of itself (and I was quite proud of it) because most of the people who sang had little previous choir experience; I was part of a choir (quartet / quintet / trio) at church that sang for Christmas eve service and Christmas morning; I got to play piano for the first Sunday of December, the Sunday before Christmas, Christmas Sunday, and New Year Sunday (playing out of my new Chris Rice piano book that I LOVE!). I think the music did a lot to keep me sane through the busyness.

I also was working my normal shifts at the general store (14 hours a week) but am now finding that I can't maintain that level of commitment to the store and still maintain my mental health. Thus, I've cut my hours there in half, leaving me only working one day a week. Also, my schedule at the farm changed to a schedule I'm really excited about... I now work Tuesday night, Wednesday day (at the general store), Wednesday night, Thursday night, Friday day (at the farm), Saturday day (at the farm). Thus, I get the following time off: Thursday from 9-5, Friday evening, Saturday evening, Sunday all day, Monday all day, and Tuesday until 4. It's like having a three-day weekend every week! and that comes after feeling like I had a 0-day weekend... I'm not sure I'll know what to do with myself! ;)

In the midst of all that, here at the farm I'm cultivating a couple of the most significant friendships I've ever experienced -- it's amazing to me how quickly I've gotten to know people deeply here. Much of it comes from living, working, and playing with the same group of people most of the time. I'm also still loving the connections I have with the church folk and with the town (through the general store). Our Bible study has taken a break for the holidays and I'm noticing how much I miss it!

Mom and Dad and Matt came to the farm just after Christmas and seemed to enjoy themselves here. Unfortunately, they were only here for two and a half days... but we packed those as full as we could! It was good to see them and to be able to introduce them to people and show them around my stomping grounds. Maybe they'll come back again in the spring when it's not such cold weather. =)

K.... I should go do more laundry (there's lots of it that I, not too surprisingly, haven't gotten to for a while) and let you get on with your lives... Please know that you all are loved and missed... come visit sometime if you get a chance!