White Christmas

The week before Christmas we went to the joint handbell-choir Christmas party. What a blast! The music director’s house was full of musicians, delicious food, and good wine. Then someone brought out the crazy hats…

Ariel and Nicole got run over by a reindeer

Christmas Eve brought snow, but we battled our way through it to the 11:00 service. The prelude music started at 10:30 and included a couple of fantastic handbell pieces and a solo by my dear husband. There were a couple stumbles but after all we weren’t there just to play or listen to beautiful music… We were there to remember the ultimate gift, Christ humbling himself to come to earth and be a human in order to pay our debt. We tolled in Christmas Day, put the bells up, and dragged ourselves home to bed in the wee hours – but for all the right reasons!

I remember my mom taking me to a midnight service at a Lutheran church when we lived in Texas (we were Bible church people so it was a change of pace). There was something thrilling about the tradition and ritual and of course staying up late. It seemed so special, so sacred, going out into the cold, dark night, just as Jesus brought his light into the cold, dark world. I’m glad the handbells play at the late service.

On Christmas morning, Chris made us a tasty breakfast and we Facetimed with my family while we opened our wonderful, thoughtful presents from family and friends. Then I got the best present from my job… the afternoon off!!! We spent it walking the dogs, clearing the driveway with our new electric snowblower, and making mac ‘n cheese to share with our friends the Hills. We had a feast with our friends… chicken, stuffing, mac ‘n cheese, salad, and apple pie for dessert. Sooo good! We also played one of our Christmas presents, the fantastic game Citadels.

So here’s the picture of us looking nice and Christmas-y, but you can’t really see the dog. He’s black so he blends right in. Here is the picture with flash:

Doesn’t the dog look like a robot?!!!

Anyway, we had a very merry Christmas… even though family were far away, we were able to celebrate with them through technology and the power of UPS. I hope the rest of you had a very merry Christmas!

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Music and EAs

I worked an overnight shift on Saturday on a unit I had spent relatively little time on… and it went fine! Overnight shifts are very busy from 7-11 and then quiet down until around 5. I don’t mind them, except for the fact that they are overnight and mess with my sleep schedule. Thankfully I only do them every 6th weekend (for now). 

I slept until 1:30 and then got up to face the day. I had the special opportunity to perform with several other talented musicians and dear friends at the Festival of Music. Our church hosts this series every year and one “episode” is always “Lee Afdahl and Friends,” featuring our talented music director and organist, Lee, and other local musicians. This year, I was one of Lee’s friends!

Our “flute” choir, composed of 4 flautists from our church (one with a piccolo and one with a bass flute!) and a clarinetist, performed a cheerful Celtic ditty. I loved it and in fact it is still stuck in my head. We also had some excellent performances by trumpets, soprano saxophone, clarinet, and voice in a range of styles. Nevertheless throughout the whole concert I had the weight of work hanging over my head. I love my job but on this celebratory Sunday I was dreading having to leave the fold of musicians and go to the hospital.

However by 6:00 I felt ready to head in. I donned my scrubs and headed out to the car. As I started to drive away, I realized I hadn’t eaten anything. I decided I would eat my sandwich while I did my prep work.

Then, as I was about to pull into the parking garage, I got the call. “We had an opening and we can give you an EA. And we’ll give you twelve hours.”

“Awesome!” I cried, turning my car around and heading back to the church to change and then attend a delightful evening with the Festival of Music committee…

***

“Hold on,” you’re saying. “What’s an EA?”

An EA, or Excused Absence, is like Christmas in July. It only occurs when 1) you have signed up to take an excused absence, and 2) they have enough nurses and don’t need you that particular shift.

In this case it occurred at the last minute. And it was PERFECT! I went to the party, drank champagne, and had a lovely evening.

Of course I couldn’t go to sleep until 1:30 because I had slept all day but you know what? It was worth it.