A Crawford Christmas

Christmas in Italy.  Our first with just the four of us.  The first the girls were *really* excited about.  The first without a baby/ puppy around trying to eat ornaments :-)

We had an elf visitor, who I now realize neglected to show up in any of the pictures.  Christopher Popinkins entertained himself drawing pictures on the windows, making snow angels in powdered sugar, and hanging out with the Rapunzel doll despite (according to Kylie) having a husband back at the North Pole.  Upside: we're raising tolerant kids!  Downside: anything to do with elf sexuality.

We wrote many letters to Santa...
Avalon: "I'm writing a letter to Santa.  Ummmmm the letter J.  Yes."

We have determined that through some Christmas magic, Santa receives mail via tree.

Made an authentic German gingerbread house (complete with witch, Hansel, and Gretel)...

Yay, icing!
Most benign looking cannibal-witch ever

 And (of course) cookies...

Avalon reacts to news of cookies

Kylie is told we can't eat them until they've cooled off (and immediately finds a fan)

Snowman pizza for the kids while the grownups had Cuban Christmas Eve

Post-sleepover pancakes
Then, finally, Christmas morning!  The girls were going to be so excited!  Scott and I rushed out to the living room to see their happy faces!  Their faces were still sleeping.  So we sat on the couch and went through our stockings and wondered if 8:30 is too early to wake them up :-)

Since the kids aren't awake, I guess we can just take pictures
Kylie gingerly picked the chocolate off the top, then decided it was present time
"A tricycle!!!"
"I'm playing with Stella outside, you guys can finish  opening presents."


Kylie-frog "helps" Ava-owl get her tricycle 'nice and clean'

After putting on dry clothes and moving inside for more presents, they made up
A very merry Christmas from the Crawfords!



I just deleted several link-heavy paragraphs because a week is too long for a single blog post.  I'm going to try shutting my eyes and remembering the stand-out moments and typing those :-)

Overwhelming beauty and grandeur.  The austerity measures make me sad.  It was like seeing a grand old regal lady living from one social security check to the next, wondering how she got there and where she went wrong.

Fresh squeezed orange juice everywhere.  Even in the greasy little hole in the wall places, there was a juicer and the freshest, most amazing juice I've ever had.

Kindness and generosity unlike anything I've encountered.  The girls were showered with gifts and affection, from chocolates to stuffed animals to magnets to jewelry to toys... hair was tousled, realizing we spoke English, people walking down the street would exclaim "princesses!" or "oh, the angels!" and smile and wave to them.  They lead a blessed life.

The Acropolis was stunning...

 the Temple of Poseidon surreal...

"Oh this poor little flower doesn't have any dirt for food energy!  I will give it kisses for love energy."

   Getting custom made shoes from the Poet's son amazing...

but I think this was the best part.

The little gypsy girls were selling flowers as we ate lunch.  I declined from purchasing any, but offered them bread to feed to the birds with the girls.  After a few moments of bird-feeding and establishing names, a motorcycle came zooming down the sidewalk.  The youngest girl yelled "Ava!!!" swooped her up in her arms, and ran her to me to make sure she was safe.  

I said thank you, gave her all of my change, and started walking through the market.  The girls decided to come with us and as we meandered past carts and blankets full of goods, they pointed things out to Kylie & Avalon.  We stopped and bought pistachios.  When the little gypsy girls saw that Kylie couldn't open them on her own, they started shelling them for her.

When we got to the statue and the kids (their brothers/ friends had now joined us as well) saw I was trying to take Kyle & Ava's picture, they made funny faces and pointed at the camera to help me get a good shot.  

As we neared the end of the market, they gave flowers to Kylie and Avalon.  I smiled, said I had no money, and asked the girls to please give the flowers back.

The kids said, "no.. a present for my friend" and continued to hand the flowers back.  The oldest girl dashed off to a cart with the money I'd given her, and I hoped she would get some food for herself and her friends.  She returned with a wide smile, and 2 little chocolate cakes.  One for Ava, one for Kylie.  

With a wave and a kiss on each of the girls' foreheads, she ran to the market, back to work for the day.

Moved.  Humbled.  Blessed.