Despite the heavy fog and my worries about even heavier traffic, we took a trip to the Washington, DC Temple for the Festival of Lights. The missionaries that greeted us asked if we wanted to attend that evening’s musical performance, starting just ten minutes later, because there were still plenty of seats available. We decided to give it a try, thinking that we could bail if Elena and Roman were too loud. We shouldn’t have been worried about that, because the performance was by the Voices of Triumph Choir from the Alfred Street Baptist Church, and the performers had plenty of energy to keep the kids entertained. They started out with a southern gospel-style rendition of Joy to the World (or some other classic carol) that had first Roman, then Elena swinging and bopping back and forth in time. The rest of the songs were equally fun. I had to take Elena out to the restroom, and instead of returning to our seats we stood up by the exit where there was more room for her to dance and twirl during the last number.
After the show we spent a few minutes looking at the thematically-decorated Christmas trees and nativity scenes from around the world inside the Visitors’ Center, then went outside to look at all the lights. The biggest hit with the kids was the life-sized nativity scene. Roman loves animals, and it looked like he could hardly believe that he would get to stand next to a giant camel, even if it wasn’t real. Elena listened intently to the reading of Luke 2, interspersed with music, that was being played on a loop in that area. She would have listened to it several times if we hadn’t wanted to walk around and see more of the lights.
Later in the week there was a night when Jenny was in the bedroom wrapping presents, and had asked me to stand guard outside the bedroom–she wanted to preserve some surprises for the kids and for me. Elena couldn’t fall asleep and came to find us, but I intercepted her before she barged into the secured wrapping area. Jenny granted Elena’s offer of help, and Elena disappeared into the room while I remained at my post, despite the negligible risk that Roman would also make an appearance. After a few minutes, Elena emerged with a brightly-colored package that Jenny had asked her to take downstairs and place under the tree. I know she was under strict instructions not to tell me what was in it, but she was just so exuberant about her mission that I was worried that after she started with “Daddy, this is a surprise,” she would inadvertently name the contents. As soon as she started to talk, I told her to hurry downstairs and not tell me anything. This process repeated itself several times before she was ready to give sleep another chance, and I’m happy to report that she didn’t divulge any sensitive information. But if what Elena told me is to be believed, Roman and I are really, really going to like our presents.