Today was a day of doing the things I had put off all week. There are some that I have success-fully left incomplete today too, like baking pumpkin pie. And dusting my room. And writing my Christmas cards (they have to be done within two weeks, and I can't work on them during the week...) However, I did get the bathroom clean, the floor vacuumed, the really dirty window washed, my newsletter written, and a little thrift shopping conquered (winter slippers, two long-sleeved tees and a pull-over fleece for $16. Awesome). I also spent a good portion of the day in the kitchen, making chicken salad and, my favorite, hamburger lentil soup. At this rate I won't have to cook again until Christmas (it's a LOT of soup).
Last weekend I spent the weekend in Vienna with Stephanie from Poland, the other Ashley from the Czech Republic, and Rachel and Sarah from Hungary. What a great weekend. It was so cold and it snowed for a good part of Saturday. What a BEAUTIFUL city. We spent a lot of time at the Christmas markets, at St. Stephen's cathedral (wow!), at some of the Hapsburgs' buildings. We attended an English-language church on Sunday, but we were NOT impressed by the pastor, who preached about Americans, Christians, and Michael Jordan among other things, but only managed to say "Jesus" 3 times in his 16 minute sermon. Suffice it to say, listening to Issues Etc. has spoiled me for bad preaching. The man turned the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats into: "It's the little things in life that count in the Kingdom of Heaven" (Yeah, the pastor actually SAID that).
I was privileged to be invited to eat Thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday with an American pastor, his Polish wife, their son, and a number of other guests composed of Polish wives with North American husbands, a Czech couple (missionaries to Ukraine), my flatmate, and Steph and Ashley. It was a delightful evening and a very authentic Thanksgiving dinner.
That same day I picked up my Christmas tree at Stephanie's Thrift Store (what we've dubbed the pile of junk that has accumulated over the last decade of LCMS volunteers living in her flat in Poland).
All week I told my students about Thanksgiving (every class knew there was turkey, but not much else about the day) and made them write or speak about what in their lives they are thankful for. The 8th grade was very heartening for me. Usually that's my least favorite class, but they were so GOOD, and almost every one of them wrote about being thankful for their salvation for one of their 5 sentences. It surprised me and made me so glad. I just hope they didn't write that because they thought it would make me happy. After all, I did teach them the phrasal verb "to suck up" last week.
On Thanksgiving Day I skyped with my family a little before the Effken family dinner. After they left to eat, I made a paper chain with which to decorate my tree while I watched "The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood." I was disappointed, actually. Not that great of a movie, in spite of Sandra Bullock and James Garner.
Well, I suppose its off with me to cut up some fruit to dry for the tree. This year I don't want to buy any fancy decorations for Christmas, since I won't be able to keep them for long, I'm home-making all of them. I made the paper chain already, and my other plans include thinly slicing assorted citrus fruits and drying them on my radiator to hang from the tree, AND making a popcorn string. It'll be a great throwback to my girlhood. I can't wait to see what it'll look like. I'll be sure to post pictures when it's all said and done (in a couple weeks... I don't want to skip Advent to start celebrating Christmas).