Sunday, December 06, 2009

Christmas Traditions

It is always my hope that each Holy Day will be celebrated with our children as Holy indeed.  This year we're revamping some traditions to try to keep Christ in the center of our celebration.  Keeping the Orthodox fast throughout Advent is one way we are being drawn ever closer to our Lord as we truly sacrifice throughout the season of preparation.  Hungry tummies have a way of creating discipline, giving teeth to the feeling of emptiness and need which cultivates awareness that there is something wonderful coming which can fill that emptiness. 

We've also been involving as many of the kids as possible in learning the Orthodox Nativity hymns.  The hymns are beautifully arranged and spell out every aspect of Christ's Nativity.  I am especially moved by the litanies in which the choir chants God is With Us as the priest chants profound truths about Who God Is....stunningly beautiful to the soul. 

Our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will be simpler this year - with the whole focus on our church family and the gathering together in the services and prayers.  The gifts will be simpler - each child receiving three gifts just as the infant Christ received three gifts from the wise men.  Their stockings will be filled with candy for each one to ration until Pascha and the many little gadgets and breakable, disposable toys will be absent this year.

So far the Advent season has been peppered with various other feast days.  We took Thanksgiving as our own, stayed at home, invited a friend who was without family for the holiday, the grandparents who came and went as they pleased and all of us worked together to plan and cook and play and rest.  It was glorious.  Today we celebrated St. Nicholas' feast day.  The children received small gifts in their shoes this morning and visited with St. Nicholas at church.  In another week we will celebrated the Feast day of St. Lucia as well (and Ruth's birthday).  

The pace will be slower - and set by the rhythm of our church services.  I'm excited.  I think this year the children will really begin to understand the Spirit of the celebration of the Nativity in a new way - I know I have already.

It is, however, a Feast - a joyous occasion, and as such I don't want the joy and the magic of the Nativity season to elude us.  So some of our sillier traditions will continue - I'm sure Muffy and Granddad will put a theme gift in each stocking for a family picture, we've already broken out the edition of How the Grinch Stole Christmas and there will be a large gift for the family to enjoy together which will bring tremendous joy to the children.  In researching various traditions, I came across this one...not sure we'll go quite that far but it's worth the word picture to think about.

Anne M. of TX
Everyone gets new underwear for Christmas. Then we take a picture of all of us with the underwear on our heads. It started when my kids were 9,7 and 2. They are now 28, 26 and 21. And now we have spouses in the pics!!!!

1 comment:

elizabeth said...

Sounds lovely! I just moved to a new apartment so am still setting up normal house things... but have my Nativity Icon up in my prayer area and must confess that I am really looking forward to getting white Christmas lights and using my small 1-foot Christmas tree :)\

Blessed Nativity Fast to you and your beautiful family!!