After we sing a few more carols, Santa calls all the children to the front of the church and reads 'Twas the Night before Christmas. The Ann Arbor Youth Chorale sings a perfectly harmonized "Silent Night." Then we are all divided into twelve sections, and off we embark on "The Twelve Days of Christmas," with the Five Golden Rings really hamming it up.
Afterwards, everyone goes down to the basement for cider, cookies, and photos with Santa. So that's why everyone is so dressed up! The only way I can convince my surly preteens to indulge me and take a family picture with Santa, however, is to pay each one $5. Other parents with much younger children look at me aghast. As the Indonesian angklung ensemble performs, Little Brother finally gets his chance to ask Santa, "Do you like mochi?" (the Japanese sweet we leave him each year) and "How do you get into houses with no chimney?" Santa has the answer: "Through the rice cooker, of course!"
[Originally published in December, 2009.]