I know Christmas was a while ago. But my dad keeps reminding me it is still the Christmas Season (Til the Baptism of the Lord) So I am taking that as a big OK to keep talking about Christmas! And I never did a photo dump post so this can break two ornaments with one stone.
Our Christmas traditions are still evolving, and every year I try some new things and nix some others, but its usually based on guesses and fuzzy memories, so I am hoping this post can help next year when I am trying to to remember/decide what we should do for Christmas 2016 and beyond.
This Advent we did some things that went really well, things like
Advent wreath prayers
(almost) Every night immediately after supper we lit the candle(s) and sang O Come Emanuel and said a decade of the rosary (singing lots of the Hail Mary’s) and then blew them out and opened the advent calendar and ate a candy. Simple and short and we managed to actually get it in pretty much every day.
St. Nicholas Day
We made St. Nicks Day into a fun family day since it happened to be on a weekend. Putting shoes out and getting a gift and chocolates in them is a new tradition for us (didn’t grow up doing it) but how can we not! So much fun and the perfect day for new Jammies and the Play Mobil Nativity set as a family gift.
Decorating on Gaudete (pink) Sunday
My plan was to get a (real) tree on Pink Sunday, but we ended up being out of town that weekend so we got it a few days later. But it was nice and close to Christmas to decorate is and the live tree lasted to epiphany without getting to dry and dead. I also brought out most of the Christmas decorations bit by bit after that day, but saved some of the favourites til Christmas Eve (including the Christmas plates and cups) and we kept everything up and out and in use all through the 12 days.
Overall Advent Philosophy
Do one less Christmas thing – and one more advent thing. I had all our gifts bought before advent, so there was no shopping, but other than that didn’t worry too much about avoiding Christmas things during advent. We went to see Christmas lights and a Christmas festival, we read Christmas books and drank egg nog. I need to remember to buy candy canes way ahead of time next year because they were sold out by the time I went to look for them (again!). We did try to save the feasting til the big day, so during the 12 days of Christmas we broke out treats and activities that we hadn’t had in a year and it made the Christmas season it’s own kind of special. I want to do that even more next year.
Hosted Christmas Eve Gathering
We invited my family who was all in town over to our house for Christmas Eve. My mom and I made the family recipe of Tortiere (a traditional French Canadian meat pie) together and we had a pretty simple but delicious meal. We had a Gingerbread house for the kids to decorate, and they each opened one gift. We all did the last night of Advent prayers all together and played games until people (some of whom were planning to go to Mass at Midnight) started to head home.Our kids went to bed at about the usual time or a little later, there was no way they would have done well staying up or being woken up for Midnight Mass. It was so much fun to have a family gathering with all the fun of Christmas but not the chaos and distraction of gifts – just focus on the gift of the presence of our family members!
Christmas Morning Mass
We tossed around the idea of going to Midnight Mass but settled on our usual Mass time at 9 am. It worked out pretty well. The kids woke up and found their stockings and “Santa” gifts (that St. Nicholas/Santa [same person] delivered on behalf of Baby Jesus) which were one toy per kid, a Cat.Chat CD, a few new clothes they needed and a big Candy Cane. But we were able to open gifts while skyping the grandparents who are out of town and still get them dressed and to Mass on time, and Mass was not crowded at all, and not long and they did about as well as they do on a normal Sunday.
After Mass we headed to my parents house where the kids cousin and aunties and uncles and grandparents where, and a mountain of presents! Crazy overwhelming abundance of food and wrapping paper and new things for everyone. A wonderful exhausting day! And apparently an unplugged one – I can’t find any pictures that I took, but I think my sisters were snapping some on their “real” cameras. Since adult colouring books were a hot gift this year, we did lots of that, including a book my mom got with dot-to-dots, with A THOUSAND dots in each one! INSANE. And played card games and board games and the dice game Tenzi (which is SO fun, I heard about it from Megan) And then the most delicious late lunch/early supper of Turkey and all the fixins. YUM
Maybe one year… I have high hopes. I like what I have see some families do, families who are at the stage of doing some organized morning routine with prayer etc. working Jesse Tree readings into that part of the day.We are not at that phase yet.
I would love to have some visual decoration or something to use for these last few days of Advent but I haven’t settled on something yet, so maybe one year soon.
Traveling 3 Wise Men
This is so sweet! Our Church even does it with the huge statues slowly moving across the altar toward the nativity scene in the Masses between Christmas and Nativity and the kids see it and totally get it, so I would love to do it at home. It will have to wait another year or two because we are still at the point where the whole cast of characters of the Nativity Scene just get stashed in the bushes.
Put Baby Jesus in the Manger on Christmas Day
I planned to do this and hid Baby Jesus all through Advent, and then just never got him out until days and days after Christmas when I thought of it. When all the nativity set pieces are just being stashed around it doesn’t make as powerful of an impact.
Other things I would like to do Eventually:
Christmas caroling (maybe at some homes for the elderly?)
Send Christmas cards
Delivering goodies to neighbors and friends
Make plans to spend the 12 days of Christmas doing all the fun Christmas things
We did have a beautiful Christmas and praise the Lord no one got sick (until New Years) and I am so grateful for my wonderful generous family. Hope you all had a wonderful one too!