Dear Baby Jesus,
I know you're the "reason for the season." I understand that Advent is meant to be a time to gather one's thoughts and prepare for the coming of the Christ, both in our lizard-brain collective memory as well as for the Final coming. However, I just can't help myself but get all caught up in the trivial commercialized modern-day traditional trappings of Christmastime.
I love planning just what presents to buy, picking them out, wrapping them, placing them under the tree. I simply adore wandering through a few dozen acres of conifers looking for just the perfectly-sized, perfectly-shaped, perfectly-verdant Douglas fir. I drool over Martha Stewart holiday crafts and seasonal recipes. I DVR all the Christmas specials, even the ones I already own on DVD (which is many, many of them). I love a giant Christmas morning brunch, an even bigger ham dinner, platters of Christmas cookies, egg nog! I love labeling, writing, addressing, folding, stickering, and mailing dozens upon dozens of Christmas cards. I giggle and grin at the ever-more-Griswoldian Christmas light display in our yard and on our house.
I just love all the fun stuff and hustle and bustle that comes along with Christmas.
Sure, we have multiple nativity sets around the house, mixed in with the Santas and the snowmen. Sure, we attend Sunday church services, sing in the choir, and pray regularly.
But, somehow, the real true meaning of Christmas for me isn't really the birth of the Savior so much as it is a celebration of Family, of togetherness, of creating and maintaining traditions for our kids. I know those are all virtuous things, but I cannot help feeling more than a little angsty and guilt-ridden for not feeling that light-from-within feeling that so many of my friends seem to find so readily. And in all this creating- and passing-on of traditions, am I really neglecting the most important one of all?
I'm sorry, Baby Jesus, for not putting you first this holiday. I'm going to try to make a better effort this year and to really think about the real gift we all received You and Your Father. And, regardless of whether it really happened in December or not, celebrate You this season.
Not to freak you out or anything.
Well, a little maybe. Hee-hee! Sorry.
Anyway, I'm gloating a wee, tiny bit because I'm very nearly done. All the Christmas shopping I can do by myself as been finished, and Joe and I took the kids out today to buy for each other and the opposite parent. Joe and I still have to go out for goodies for the kids Advent Countdown giftbags* and Joe's and the kids' stockings**.
Adding to that, the outside of the house is mostly decorated, as well. The lights are on the roof, the lights are everywhere, really. The wreaths and gardland are hung. Even the candy cans lane is running across the front yard. We haven't turned anything on yet (we're not that freakish), but it seemed we should take advantage of the mild weather we've been having.
This quick week will fly by and then our biggest holiday traditions of all will be upon us. After giving thanks with Joe's family, we'll return home for the Millville holiday parade (YAY!). Then on Sunday, we'll select, cut down and decorate our tree, as well as the rest of the interior of the house (decorating, that is ... we won't be selecting or cutting down a new interior).
Other holiday traditions around here: annually ordering beef-stick, cheese spread and baklava squares from Figis. An occasional December dinner will consist of these goodies, Triscuits, egg nog, apple cider and Christmas cookies. Yeah, baby!
We're bummed about not hosting a Christmas party this year, but when under-employed one has to cut corners where one reasonably can. Hopefully we can have some friends over now and then throughout the season.
Our biggest objective this year is to slow down and enjoy the holiday and each other's company more. Traditional celebrations, board games, food. That sort of thing. I'll let you know how that pans out. In the meantime ... I'm (almost) DONE!
* We do something vaguely like this, but instead with craft-paper giftbags that sit along the knee-wall ledge in our family room. Each morning of December (yes, I know Advent starts on November 28 this year), the kids may open a bag to find some spare change, a little candy, or a small trinkety toy (like we really need more of those around the house). Small potatoes, really, but the kids love it.
** The jig is up at Chez Dugan regarding Santa. We've come to the general consensus that Santa is an idea or spirit or mood that comes into fruition on Christmas Eve and that we can all enjoy sharing goodwill, generosity, and so forth by being Santas for each other.
Mary Shelley and Dr. Frankenstein's monster (click for a video clip taken by a local reporter). There were a bunch of others from Mystic Realms acting other parts and performing various literature-based Halloween stories, with moral lessons for the kiddos. Ours was sharing and friendship. In the video, the monster was making friends by sharing (albeit reluctantly) some candy. This gallery has some more pictures from the event (I can't get the gallery to work except in Internet Explorer). I've posted the gallery pics* of us in this post, but if you want to see some others (mixed in with some Trick-or-Treating pics around the area), feel free to click through
It was a gorgeous day to be outside and Joe was an amazing entertainer. He had hordes of kids following him around, playing with him, giving him hugs. I felt like a Disney World costumed character handler. We had the best time!
ps. For the record, as he's not in any of these pics, Matthew was Obi-Wan Kenobi. :)
* Thank you to The Daily Journal.com.