Sunday, December 15, 2013

I'm keeping some Christmas traditions this year!

When I was in eighth grade, I wrote an essay for my English class about how Christmas is my favorite holiday -- not because of the presents, but because of all of the creative opportunities in the traditions!  There are so many possibilities in the gingerbread houses, cookies, carols, advent calendars, ornaments, other decorations, etc.

Even as a young adult newly out of the nest, I would repeat these familiar traditions -- as well as researching other traditions, to incorporate them -- and throw elaborate Christmas parties.  Later, with kids and a job, I switched by necessity to a more minimalist model, eg. a small Christmas tree, some carols on the stereo, and maybe a batch of cookies.  And (like many parents) I've felt a crazy mix of guilt and disappointment at not doing more of all that stuff I used to love as a kid.

Not too much guilt, mind you -- the whole point is for it to be fun!

The cool thing is that -- now that my kids are 10 and 12 -- it has become that much easier and more fun to add more traditions and activities to our holiday season!  For example, I made an advent calendar this year, for the first time in years:

"Made" is perhaps a strong word here -- I just decorated the tops of the star-shaped boxes and then filled them.

These sets of 24 blank star-shaped boxes are a popular craft-shop item here in Switzerland, and probably all over the world.

The fun part is that the kids are old enough to get into the traditions as well.  They want to have advent calendars, so they have one of their own:
We didn't exactly make the Lego advent calendar, but if I'm feeling ambitious, next year I might design one using our existing pieces.  Léo was also very excited to set up those two little Christmas trees, and requested a big one this year for our living room:
I think most of my favorite Christmas-tradition memories are largely from my tween-to-teen years, so now our little family is hitting our golden age of Christmas!  And the best part is that now I have an excuse to watch all of my favorite Christmas specials!!

For that last one, my brother recently sent me a link to the text of the original book, and it's essentially as I concluded in my analysis: the verse parts of the special are quotes from the book, and the prose parts (including the entire adventure with Heat Miser and Snow Miser making it snow in Southtown) were all made up for the special since the story in the book wasn't long or interesting enough.  

I didn't guess correctly that there were a number of stanzas from the book that didn't make it to the special, but they're basically along the same lines as the ones that were included -- no additional themes or plot.  The biggest surprise was that the character "Ignatius Thistlewhite" is actually in the original book (though his role is quite different).

My brother also sent me a set of action figures a few years ago, which I like to include in my seasonal display:
The kids are, of course, begging me to let them take the play set down and play with it -- and I do let them play with it a bit every year -- but I insist that they do it carefully and put all of the pieces back when they're done, because they would not be easy to replace.

This afternoon, we'll be rolling, cutting, and baking Christmas cookies!  Merry Christmas!!