The holiday season is in full swing these days. I’ve noticed that I’m repeating some of the same rituals I had growing up, like hanging jingle bells on the front door and reading How The Grinch Stole Christmas to my girls.
Last Sunday began the liturgical season of Advent, the four weeks of preparation for Christmas. I pulled out our advent wreath only to find stubs of our candles from last year. Tracking down purple and pink taper candles is harder than you think. I broke down and bought them at Wal-Mart. We lit the first candle on Sunday night as we sat around the table for dinner. We’ll continue to light the candles at family meals as we await the birth of Jesus.
On Tuesday we mailed out Christmas cards to family and friends near and far. And just as my grandmother gave me an advent calendar to I count down the days to Christmas, she now gives advent calendars to her great grandchildren. They are the paper ones with windows numbered for the days in December. Waking up each morning, the girls reveal a new surprise behind every window.
As a child, my siblings and I always set our shoes out by the fireplace on the evening of Dec. 5th for St. Nick. On the morning of the 6th we’d find them filled with candy, stickers and new socks. Our girls will put out their shoes on Monday night.
Hearing religious Christmas carols sung in church has long been one of my favorite holiday events. For me, it doesn’t feel like Christmas until I’m singing along to O Holy Night and O Come, All Ye Faithful. Next Thursday our girls will sing in their school Christmas program. I was pleasantly surprised to hear my daughter practice at home. She’ll be singing songs about Jesus rather than the secular Up On The House Top variety.
A couple weeks before Christmas we’ll head to a local tree farm and pick out our Christmas tree. Listening to one of the Slacker Radio Holiday stations, we’ll hang lights and ornaments on the tree. My husband will hoist our youngest daughter to place the angel on the tree top. When we finish, we’ll sip hot cocoa and roast marshmallows in the fireplace. I’ll do my best to remember to water the tree so we can keep it up through the Epiphany, or Three Kings Day, on January 6th.
With the girls as our kitchen helpers, we’ll bake cookies and my husband will make several batches of his signature fudge. Then we’ll wrap up the homemade treats and give them away to family and friends.
Christmas morning we spend quietly at home. There are a few gifts under the tree to open, but that isn’t the focal point. Our girls will discover the presence of a baby in our nativity scene and we will light the final white candle on our advent wreath. For us, Christmas is a time to remember and celebrate Jesus’ birth.
What holiday traditions (old or new) do you celebrate with your family?