Tag Archives: christmas

Advent, Anticipation & Presents

1 Dec

Christmas is ComingThe countdown to Christmas is on. The decorations are up. It is a season of waiting and preparation, but as the anticipation builds is the present moment getting lost?

With advent, as with so many things, there is a fine balance to keep in play. There is so much focus on “the big day” that the days leading up to it can easily fall victim to merely planning for the future. A dangerous practice, as anticipating the future tends us to swing too much energy toward an unknown that is over as soon as it has begun.

Once the future has begun, it is no longer the future, but the present, and without practice we might not even recognize it until it is over and then find ourselves looking forward to the next thing: be it New Years, Birthdays, or simply going back to work.

How many times has a relaxing Sunday been marred by the anticipation that the next day is Monday and that will mean going back to work? Don’t deprive yourself of the present in anticipation of the future.

How? Enjoy the Present with Presents! Of course.

 

A present for each and everyday.

A present for each and everyday.

A tradition that I’ve enjoyed since I was a kid is that of advent calendars. Each day, starting today December 1st, is acknowledged with a small surprise or gift of some kind. Sometimes it is a lovely wintertime picture, a sweet candy treat or a small toy.

The practice of advent calendars teaches small children their numbers and helps them to visualize how many days there are left until Christmas. In addition, advent calendars give parents an easy answer to the often asked question: “Is it Christmas now?”

Some good ideas for making your own advent calendars can be found here. This year we are doing the 24 origami boxes made to look like little presents. Last year I took all of my preschoolers random mismatched socks and made them into stockings. What advent calendar ideas have you enjoyed doing?

Breaking it Down Even More

As I’m writing this, I’m reminded by an hour by hour we remain present during this season of anticipation. We have a wintertime clock (that we received as a present a couple years ago) that plays a different Christmas carol each hour, on the hour.

There are candy canes and other sweet treats stashed in plain view all around the house this month, as well.

While my preschooler, like many children, spends lots of time longingly examining the tree and wondering what joys this magical season will bring, with advent, we are reminded that it is each day and every moment that holds the real gift of the present.

My preschooler wanted to play Santa right away with the advent presents.

My preschooler wanted to play Santa right away with the advent presents.

 

 

Ultimate Luxery: The Christmas Purge

28 Dec

It’s a big job every year but there’s no better advantage that I can think of to living in a tiny space with no closets: when one thing comes in, something else must go out or there simply won’t be enough room for it all.

Throughout the year, I tend to participate in a precarious balancing act. I rearrange and ignore the piles of things I want to hold on to but don’t necessarily use. Christmas puts an end to that because there is such an influx of new items that luckily, the urge to clean and make room for them all comes along with them.

Along with the purge comes a change in priorities to those that are more true to my emerging priorities at the time. Some years lots of items go out, some years, just a few. These items: clothing that doesn’t fit right or that is just jinxed to not make me feel very great when I’m wearing it, children’s toys that contribute more to a feeling of blah than of awesomeness, or kitchen appliances that should’ve been retired long ago, all contribute to a lower quality of life. We cannot be who we used to be, and using outdated items can jam us back there on a daily basis.

When you get rid of everything, you find out what you really miss and what you don’t. I’ve made room for the stuff I truly value year after year. I can always find room for photo albums and art supplies, for instance.

My goal has been the same since my first cathartic purge years ago: use as little as possible, purge instead of accumulate. Not only is there a freeing of the spirit so that it may stay present, there’s a lot less to dust that way too.

Enjoy!

 

Christmas Lights

20 Dec

Miracles are real, especially Christmas miracles.

In this, the darkest time of year, we celebrate the miracle of light. My celebration of it started out slowly as I struggled to find lights to put on the Christmas tree. The orange strand I had leftover from Halloween was only half lit, so I tore down the ones from the ceiling that I’d been using to light up the living room and wrapped those around the tree. After being poked by the branches the whole way up and down, the strand wasn’t attached to the plug-in star at the top. Once I got the star attached, the cords were ugly and visible. I got that challenge hurdled but still wasn’t feeling the joy of the light.

Then I saw a special on Christmas lights on TV where a guy incorporated lights into his beautiful and unique sculptures. He reused all sorts of items to make giant works of art that people from all over would come to enjoy. The light inside me was growing warmer.

Then I walked into the bedroom to find my toddler painting with glow-in-the-dark paint all over the wall. There were drops on his blankets and his dresser. He looked at me silently with wide eyes. He had a big glob on his shirt. I looked down and saw this light, right above his heart, and the bright glow of light spread from his heart and into mine.

“Those are the most beautiful stars I’ve ever seen,” I told him honestly. His eyes lit up. I gave him a huge hug and got some of the glowing paint on my hands too. We sat in the dark, admiring the beauty of the green light in the darkness.

Miracles like these seem to fill many hearts at this time of year. As I searched for a Christmas ham in the grocery store, I turned around to see a woman offering me one the exact size I needed from her cart. “Merry Christmas” she said, smiling, as I thanked her.

One memorable year, when I was feeling quite poor and depressed over Christmas, I went outside to change the garbage at work and found someone had left brand new packages of boxes and wrapping paper on top on the lid. I knew it must’ve been Santa.

While taking a walk yesterday, a neighbor pulled off the road to give Adam a candy cane. “Merry Christmas” he said. “Thanks Santa” I smiled and waved as he drove off. “We can all be Santa,” I explained to Adam, “when we see an opportunity to spread joy by giving.” He nodded and broke open the candy cane, flicking his tongue to catch all the peppermint sweetness from his mittened fingers.

Merry Christmas to you all! May you all feel the light by being Santa to others and be blessed by those that are Santas to you as well.

Being Present with a Present Everyday

30 Nov

An advent calender can have more meaning than I ever realized.

This year, even an advent calendar was out of my reach. This item seemed to have lost favor in my consciousness while store shopping so fortune led me to make this timeless addition to the holiday tradition this year.

Advent calendar’s brilliance was fully appreciated this year as I searched for one. This year, the search became all the more poignant because it has been the first year that Adam has been able to gaze out the window and say dreamily, ” Santa’s coming.”

When the neighborhood Christmas decorations go up, ” Santa’s coming.”

With the countdown to the countdown to Christmas cartoons on TV, “Santa’s coming.”

I never thought about how I would explain Santa Claus before. “He’s the spirit of giving.” I found myself explaining this year when Santa first started appearing halfway toward Thanksgiving. “Because it feels so good to give.”

I was given the idea for the advent calendar from Disney’s Family Fun magazine. Yes, I know there’s no escaping Disney. This magazine was given to me by a great gift giver (thank you Amy ;). So I used this gift given to me to make the first gift of the season. The gift of the countdown.

Anticipation of the big day is as much a part of the journey, the fun, as Christmas day itself. With Christmas Eve, New Years and Adam’s birthday all in the same week, it’s like a week-long party anyway, really, more than just a celebration on the one day. And an advent calendar makes it a celebration for the entire month.

So, the advent calendar itself was made from all the socks Adam grew out of this year. I’d had a pile of them growing in the back of his drawer. They are the ones who lost their mates to the dryer monster, or the ones foolishly made in white. White socks are a mystery to me, how anyone keeps them that way? An understanding that is beyond my comprehension.

I gathered up 24 of these and Adam squeezed some food coloring into plastic tubs and the finger dying commenced. We got some socks dyed in there too. Awesome tye-dyes. We pasted the 24 snowmen I’d cut out onto 24 clothespins. Each decorated with a number and a face drawn by Adam’s creative hand.

Strung up onto pom-pom ball garland, these little feet bring us a day and a step closer to Christmas. Each sock, like each day, bringing its own surprise treat inside. The advent calendar just helps remind us just what a great thing that really is.

Extra Xmas

27 Dec

Christmas with a toddler does everyone a world of good. Everyone wants to present a gift to a child. No one worries about whether it’s the right color or the right brand because toddlers don’t. Joy abounds.

 All those presents bring to mind for parents the need to organize, purge and value quality and not quantity when it comes to our possessions.

We savor candy and cookies and confectionous treats more because we see how the children do.

Most of all, we hear songs about a miracle child and we are reminded of the glory of love.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good life!