Christmas Traditions (Part 1)

Frosted window panes
Candles gleaming inside
Painted candy canes on the tree
Santa’s on his way
He’s filled his sleigh with things
Things for you and for me

It’s that time of year
When the world falls in love
Every song you hear seems to say
Merry Christmas
May your New Year dreams come true
And this song of mine
In three-quarter time
Wishes you and yours
The same thing too.

– The Christmas Waltz By Jules Stine and Sammy Cahn

 

If you don’t know it yet, Christmas is my favorite time of the year. So I decided to do a short post every day sharing my Christmas traditions, stories, and favorites.

Today, I want to share a new tradition I started last year. For the whole month of December I listen to different versions of The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens on Audible. Not only is Dickens easier in audio versions, but it puts you in a wonderful mood for Christmas. Most versions are 3-5 hours long, with the Patrick Stewart or Tim Curry versions being my favorite.

This is perfect for commutes, especially if you work retail and your having a hard time staying in the mood of the season, or just as you fold laundry and dust and cook. It’s also perfect to share with the family around a fire and a bowl of popcorn.

Dickens masterful work of the ‘meaning of Christmas’ is rich, wholesome, and yet very down to earth, filled with human nature. His descriptions of the market place on Christmas, Mr. Fezziwig, and the Bob Cratchit’s family are a wonderful delight. I hope in a few more years to be able to directly quote this book after listening to it so many times, though I’ll probably do it in Patrick Stewart’s voice.

Merry Christmas and “God bless us, every one!”

 

 

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Slice of Life: Destress your Holidays

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I know so many people who have a bah-humbug attitude towards the holiday. I’m not talking about everyone who teases me about my proclivity to listen to Christmas music at totally inappropriate times…like July. I’m not talking about the people who have very few happy memories tied to the holidays. I’m talking about the people who growl at you when you tell them Merry Christmas, or tell you that Thanksgiving is a waste because people just pig out. (I’ve heard that one, yes.)

Do you realize we live in a society that might have forgotten the point of a holiday? Go listen to the original Grinch who stole Christmas. They eat Roast Beast! And they enjoy it! How politically incorrect of them.

Maybe your holiday is stressful and grumpy because you have forgotten the point. Maybe you should spread cheer instead of snarls?

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If you get stressed cause it’s so expensive, have the courage to examine you’re standards are for a happy holiday. Maybe you could work together with a couple other families for Thanksgiving and share the expense load. Maybe you could make homemade gifts out of things just lying around the house. Pinterest is full of neat ideas about how to re-purpose things.

If it stresses you out because it takes you two weeks to decorate the house and three to take it down, maybe you need to cut back on your decorating.

Christmas should be about the tradition, the fun, the family.

When I was young, it was all about the presents. As I grew it still stayed about the presents. Would so and so like what I got them? Oh, the pressure to find the perfect gift! What about my gifts? What if someone got me something I hated? What would I do? What about me!?

As I got older and my family grew up, my siblings and I created our own families and got to see each other less, I noticed my concerns shifting. I wasn’t worried about presents, I was worried about my brothers being home for the holidays. I wasn’t worried about black Friday, I was worried about what time my extra brother would have to leave us so he could be at work on time. The presents aren’t really that important to me anymore. It’s far more important that we all get to be together for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s the food, the warmth, the cheer. It’s reading the Christmas Story together, impromptu nerf gun fights, video games, beer tastings, pictures, watching our favorite Christmas movies and singing our favorite songs. It’s the magic of snow and lights. It’s teaching the kids to quote Christmas quotes and sing Christmas songs. It’s eating too much pie.

The holidays are only going to be as stressful as you let them be. If you feel anxious about the next eight weeks instead of excited maybe you need to reevaluate what you think the holidays mean. Maybe you need to pass out cards with personal notes in them instead of buying gifts. Maybe you need to get in the kitchen with some friends instead of alone. I recommend sisters or your mom!

Maybe you have suffered significant loss on the holidays or are alone. Make some new holiday traditions. Remember the point: be thankful for what we have, and, as Tolkien said, for turning point of Grace when Christ came to earth. This is the point. Make memories around that.

And don’t get all PC about the waste of the food. Holidays only happen once in a while and they ‘re meant to be over the top celebrations. Be a Fezziwig, not a Scrooge.

Fezziwig's Ball

Fezziwig’s Ball