Stuff we do to make Christmas our own particularly enjoyable holiday, rather than a stress-laden consumeristic extravaganza.
J and I were talking about how in other religions there are very specific prescribed rituals to observe on certain festival days. Since Christmas is holiday shared with alot of people who might not believe in the religious significance of the season, it seems like there aren't any "rituals" that must be adhered to. That's all good and fine, but sometimes a ritual lends some structure and can make a festival season easier, because you don't have to wonder what to do to celebrate.
The stuff that is done like putting up a tree and giving gifts are pleasant and done with joy, but they don't really strike any resonance with the actual birth of Christ.
So here are some things that either J's family or our family does to impart to our daughters the significance of Christmas.
The Advent calendar. J's mom gave us one that gives a blow by blow of the christmas story in little books that are then hung on the tree.
An Advent wreath that was given to us by my sister in law, we light the candles throughout the month to remember/remind that Christmas has more meaning than just a mess of new toys.
Reaching out to family and friends. We try to do this all year, but it seems like now more than any other time it is a good time to check in with those who we haven't been in touch with.
Remembering the stories that go along with each of the ornaments on the tree.
Going to the Grotto here in Portland.
A brunch on Christmas Eve morning.
Making special cookies/breads/cakes and certain meals only prepped at Christmas.
Christmas specials and Christmas books for A.
We watch "It's a Wonderful Life"
Christmas Eve services at the church.
Before I post this, it might be important to note that its not for feeling like we are so great that I write this stuff, to an extent it is to remember it. I would be interested to hear about other folks traditions or thoughts about a lack of tradition...