The Feast of the Domestic Church

Christmas is finally over.  And since the New Year, the whole family has been shuffling through one ailment after another, starting with my trip to the ER on New Years Day (poison ivy rash resulting in such severe swelling on my hands that I couldn’t use them) to Mike’s bout of food poisoning late last week.  Having both adults in a household containing small-to-medium sized children semi-incapacitated is not a picnic.
But last Monday we finally finished up Christmas, a whole week late.  The king cake was made and consumed.  The house was blessed.  Epiphany gifts had already been opened in their proper time, because 1) I am not a cruel mother, and 2) they were a useful distraction while people were itching and sneezing and being otherwise pretty sick.

And this week, when I looked back, like I do every year, at how Advent and Christmas went from the technical perspective (what worked, what didn’t work, what was enjoyed, what was endured, what failed and why) I had my own epiphany.

David doesn’t think Christmas is over until we’ve properly celebrated Epiphany.

The king cake must be assembled and baked and eaten.  The house must be blessed.  If we are a full week late, so be it.  If the house is a disaster zone of trash, new toys, and partially disassembled Christmas decor, so be it.  And if all the grownups are too sick and/or pregnant to attend to any of these necessities in their proper time, David will wait with the patchy patience of the 8yo until they can be achieved. He’ll make sure you don’t forget.

Now, it would be a tremendous fib to pretend that this has completely resolved all my Christmas related anxiety, and that I will, from this moment on, always rest easy, through whatever liturgical or social or familial provocation I am offered, secure in the knowledge that my kids know when the twelve days of Christmas are.  No.  Every year will have the stress of us leaving our home and traveling back to our own towns, for the family enrollment.  There won’t be any room in the inn.  On some particularly rocky and emotional years, we will need to flee to Egypt.  Familial expectations angst we shall have with us always.

But then we go home again.  And, days after the world is back to business as usual, but inevitably before we’ve had the physical time in our own house to unpack the bags or pick up the trash or take down the decorations, there’s another feast.  And for this feast, we must be at home.

Epiphany celebrates the manifestation of Christ to the world; both to the Gentiles, represented by the Magi, and to all the world, by the Baptism in the Jordan.  And our own home is our own place in the world.  Messy or clean, peaceful or chaotic, it is the place where Christ manifests to us in the ordinary things, and through us to the broader world.  It is the the octave of the feast of the Holy Family, it is feast of the domestic church.

So we do Epiphany big, although we’re still sorting out exactly what big means and how it works.  We bless the house at night, which involves processing around it in the dark with candles singing We Three Kings while Mike chalks the blessing up over all the doors, even the garage door.  This year Raphael was old enough to hold his own candle and he chirped ‘oh boy!’ excitedly through the entire blessing.  We eat king cake.  And the kids have some last presents.  One last feast to celebrate returning to our ordinary place and ordinary time.

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Requiescat in pace…

If any of you are still reading, you might remember Baronness von Korf who used to comment back when I still blogged semi regularly.

I found out this morning that she passed away last night.  She was a truly lovely person.  I rejoice in having met her and the time I was fortunate enough to spend with her, little as it was.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her.  Rest in peace, Elizabeth.

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Paper Stars

We have two very nice angel tree toppers.  One, is a crocheted angel that my mother made for my first Christmas away from home.  The second is a crocheted angel I made myself because the one my mom made had gotten damaged in a move and I didn’t want to risk it on the tree anymore.  In my house we have always always always had an angel tree topper.

But David wants a star.  For 2-3 years now, he has nagged to have a star on top of the tree.  And because I am fabulous and emotionally responsive mother he finally wore me down, this year I have delivered with something that I don’t hate.

 Because the original internet tutorial to make these has vanished into a stupid morass of self referential Pinterest links, and because I changed the final assembly instructions to make them look nicer, I bring you all the new and improved Paper Star.

You will need:

  • Paper of your choice – I used some 8.5″ x 11″ gold vellum I found in Hobby Lobby’s scrapbook area.  But this MUST be paper, and not poster board.
  • 1/8″ Micro Glue Dots
  • 3/8″ Ultra Thin Glue Dots
  • Scissors
  • A ruler if you are especially OCD
  • (Optional) a rectangular chunk of plastic from a 2L sofa bottle to form a skinny cone if you want to use the star as a tree topper.

First, you need to cut seven equal squares.  Bear in mind, the diagonal of each square will form the radius of your star, so a fairly small square will end up making a rather large star!  I, being lazy (and because I couldn’t find my ruler OR my paper cutter) cut four 4.25″ squares from each sheet of vellum by the simple method of folding the short edge of the vellum up against a long edge, trimming off the excess*, and then cutting the resulting 8.5″ square into 4ths (also measured via folding).

* Save these excess strips – you can use the scraps to make tiny versions for ornaments.

Fold the resulting squares in half diagonally.

Then fold them in half again.

Now, along the second fold, you need to make two cuts that run parallel to the side of the triangle that has the edges of the paper, and which end ~1/4″ – 3:8″ from the first fold, like so:

The shorter cut starts about halfway between the point and the side with the paper edges.  The longer cut is halfway between the shorter cut and the edge.  When you unfold it, the square should look like so:

Now it’s time to start curling the pieces into the loops.  Take the inner most triangle, overlap the tips, and using a micro glue dot, secure the tips to make a loop, like so.

Now, on the opposite side, form a similar loop with the middle triangles.

With the outer triangles, make a final loop on the same side as the small loop.

Make seven of these.  Yes, I know it’s tedious.  When you have seven, using the 3/8″ thin glue dots, attach the mid-size loop of one to the large sized loop of the next to make a chain out of all seven.

Attach the middle loop at one end of this chain to the large loop at the other end to make a circle.

This circle is very floppy.  Now we need to attach the inner points together, to make it stay in this neat star shape.  This is a little tricky and my first several stars looked terribly sloppy, but I’ve figured it out now and if you follow my instructions the result should be pretty tidy looking.

First, using the 3/8″ glue dots attach the inner points of three points together.  This is the top of the star.

Leave these three joined points alone for now, and move along to the next two.  Attach these two points together with a single 3/8″ glue dot.  Do the same with the final two points.  You should now have three groups of points, one of 3 and two of 2.

Again, using 3/8″ glue dots, attach one group of 2 points to one side of the group of 3 points, like so:

I’m sure you all can see where this is going.  Attach the second group of 2 points to the opposite side of the group of 3.

And you’re done!  They can also be made with six points if you want to make Stars of David, but not with five points – the strain on the paper is too much and they tend to tear.

These stars can made large or small, be hung from the ceiling with fishing line, very small ones (use 1/8″ glue dots throughout) can be turned into Christmas ornaments.  Make them red, and with a little embellishment in the center they become poinsettias.  If you wanted to do the obscene amount of work required (I do not), you could even attach them point to point to make star chains.


UPDATE:  oops, I forgot to tell you how to make a tree topper out of this!  This is really easy.  

First, make and secure a very tall and narrow cone out of the piece of plastic bottle.  You want an opening of about 2″ across the bottom, 1/2″-1″ at the top, and about 6″ tall.  Secure it with a combination of glue dots, clear packing tape, overlapping notches, whatever makes you happy.

If you have clear packing tape, use it, glue dots don’t seem to hold up to the strain on the plastic very well.

Now, position this cone along the back of your star, is that the bottom of the cone is level with where the two bottom points join.

See where the paper is coming into solid contact with your plastic cone?  Attach 3/8″ glue dots to these points on the cone and very gently press the paper into the glue dots.  I’m less fussy if this ends up messy looking because it IS the back and no one will see it.

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