I love this time of year; this season waiting for the birthday of Jesus. I love choosing which photo of the children to send out with Christmas cards to faraway relatives and friends. My overseas card destinations include: Australia, USA, Germany, France, Italy, England and Wales.
Advent and Christmas can seem like a time of traditions: for us, always having a real tree is important. A family can often be a clash/compromise of the parents’ family-of-origin traditions. My birth family valued home made decorations with a minimum of tinsel and glitter. We would make coloured paper chains and string them around the kitchen and the room Granny called “the parlour”.
I like to wait until the last Sunday of Advent to get the tree decorated but this year, the excitement of the younger people has been at fever pitch and the tree is in situ, its lights winking cheerfully, wrapped gifts beginning to appear from hiding places in bedrooms and cupboards, and a fervent hope that our kitten’s playfulness won’t extend to clawing through any wrapping paper until the day itself.
This year, Elva (11) organised the Advent wreath and it is often lit during meals.
The crib is very important.
It is set up way ahead, with Mary, Joseph and the donkey having to make a long journey around the windows until Christmas Eve.
The 3 Wise Men start out at the same time, from a different direction, and don’t get to arrive until the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6th.
I heard a psychologist speaking about why Christmas is so important and why we have such high expectations (often dashed) of how we hope to FEEL. She talked of how people with insecure attachments often had the greatest unmet expectations at this time. They make a big deal of the season but can be terribly disorganised. She had some lovely phrases about how often the “kin-keeping” falls to women, who seem to be particularly charged with doing the “work of belonging”. She advised that we would all be mindful of who is doing the social labour and support each other and be gentle with ourselves if the task of making the season joyful falls mainly on our shoulders.
I wish you joy as you make memories with your kin.