Christmas is probably the biggest holiday of the year in Western culture.
The Christmas season surpasses most of the religious significance to be a commercial, capitalist month-long (or more) event.
Every year, I’m on a quest to make this holiday simpler and more spiritual and less commercial. I don’t want the focus and memories just to be expensive presents.
When my kids were little, I stressed every year how to celebrate holidays to make them memorable.
We never celebrated with extended family. As a military family, we choose to stay home and have a quiet celebration with ourselves or travel over the holiday break to make it special. We went to Maui when we were stationed in Hawaii and Rome when we were stationed in Germany.
We lay off much academic homeschool work for fun holiday themes for a month or a few weeks. My kids enjoy a school break.
Now that my kids are teens, I feel I laid a good foundation for holiday traditions and we continue to choose what’s most important for our family each year.
How We Celebrate the Winter Holidays
The Christmas season begins with the first Sunday of Advent. We light candles in our wreath each week and do readings each day.
December is a time of slowing down for us. We look over the year and remember. We curl up with tea and books and candles – hygge.
We celebrate Saint Nicholas and other saints days. We don’t do Santa.
We love watching holiday movies and listening to holiday music.
We read lots of holiday books each year, adding to our library.
We celebrate the Winter Solstice with some fun traditions. We love learning new ways to celebrate and keep magic alive. (We also enjoy lighting Hanukkah candles and reading about the miracle and eating latkes.)
All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it.Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
My favorite hymns are Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming and In the Bleak Midwinter. I also love the Alabama Christmas album and Dolly Parton and The Carpenters.
We all look forward to special meals and foods to celebrate – prime rib or tenderloin, ham and twice-baked potatoes, cookies and sweet baked goods to share or have with tea. My middle daughter is usually in charge of setting the table with the pretty holiday tablecloth and great-grandma’s china and silverware. The kids love to try out new napkin folding patterns.
Some years we listen or watch The Queen’s address and the Pope’s address or Doctor Who. We almost always watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation on Christmas Eve.
Christmastide is about hope and love.
What’s your favorite part of Christmas?
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