Sunday, November 21, 2010

Twelve Days of Christmas - Project Post #1 - Christmas Traditions

"Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. "~Norman Vincent Peale

If you are wondering what I am doing - it's really quite simple, I am joining all of the fun with the big "Blogger Project" that is celebrating different Christmas Themed posts. Yes, Yes - I know - this is the week of Thanksgiving -and I am still keeping up with listing the items I am most thankful for (like today - I would add I am thankful for my career!)

Now back to today's subject - "Christmas Traditions."
BTW - that's me up there, enjoying my little presents!

Christmas ranks as one of the top holidays I celebrate - if not THE top holiday. I definitely view it as a holy day and the season I consider this to be is called "Advent." In the simplest form - Advent is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. It is the beginning of the Western liturgical year and commences on Advent Sunday, called Levavi. During this season - my family and I celebrate in many different ways.

For one, we definitely put up our Christmas Tree. Many times we have several trees in our home - one large one and several smaller trees. To the right you see a picture of me with my mother next to our 1974 Christmas tree.

Another thing we do is make sure we have an advent wreath. The wreath is usually circular and will have three purple candles and one rose candle. Many churches make use of Advent wreaths during this season, with one candle representing each of the four Sundays of Advent. The rose candle is lit on the 3rd Sunday of Advent. During Christmas we light the final candle - the white one (to represent Christ.)

We also hang mistle toe, a Christmas Wreath on the door, and do a lot of shopping for the family.

As for the actual days of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, our time is really full!

On Christmas Eve, we gather at my mom & dad's house (in Georgia.) Usually my dad has a fire crackling, and my sister will be offering some baked treat she created and holiday cider. Mom is busy cooking in the kitchen - and I am wandering around, taking in the sights and sounds and smells of one of the most anticipated evenings in a Christian's year.

Finally - dad will announce we can open our stockings. We all rush to gather our goodies and we all tear through them. Without fail - chocolate covered espresso beans and black mittens, along with other odds and ends end up in my stocking.  After we sort through our goodies, Mom will call us to the table. We used to eat ham, however, we respect my husband's religious beliefs and do not eat pork. So - it is either turkey or roast or something to that effect. Lots of excellent side dishes and amazing desserts.

We retire to the living room, anxiously awaiting what's to come next! Mom puts her Christmas CDs on (mainly Harry Connick Jr.) Dad arranges himself next to the tree and begins to hand out the presents. One by one - we watch as each person opens their gifts. Snapping pictures, making comments, oohs and ahhs - all the while creating a mound of wrapping paper in the floor for the cats to pounce through.

Finally - our stacks are complete, and dad begins to gather all of the wrapping paper and we all sit and just chat awhile.

Usually we show off our "goodies" to each other, as well as watch my niece play with all of her toys, Usually she ends on putting on every single outfit she got and parades around the room like some bag lady!

Finally - Dad will break out "The Night Before Christmas." We will sit and listen to him read it and drink our egg nog. Autumn, my niece, will close with setting out the cookies and eggnog for Santa. By this time - we are all getting a little sleepy.  But our night is JUST beginning.

Next Autumn and my sister will typically go to bed, while I drag my husband to Midnight Mass at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Macon, Georgia. We arrive close to 10:45pm and listen to one hour of caroles, then mass begins at 12:00 on the dot. With "Hark the Herald" blaring on the pipe organ, the candles are blown out and the lights come up - and we sit and experience the most beautiful mass of the year.

Finally - around 1:45am we get back to my parent's house and go to sleep.

Usually Autumn wakes up and squeals with delight as she finds Santa came to visit her!

As we sit in our pajamas, drinking our coffee  - we watch another round of presents being opened! It's such a wonderful thing to see a little kid open their presents. And I assure you - Santa is GOOD to Autumn.

Finally - we relax as a family, eating leftovers, watching movies and just enjoying this limited time together.

And THAT my friends, happens to be - my Christmas Tradition.

What about you? What do YOU do for Christmas, overall?

Also - make sure to join in on this project, for more details - go to the post before this one to get the full instructions!


Molly said...

Love these! Thanks for joining in on the challenge!

Kit said...

These are some great traditions. That is too cool the mass does not start until midnight! I would love that!

Neely said...

Love me some Harry Conick! Cute pictures!

Summer said...

What great fun traditions and I love this post! Love me some Harry Connick Jr. as well


Aly @ Analyze This said...

Wonderful photos and traditions!

I will have to check out HC Jr's CD!

Robin said...

Christmas traditions are awesome. I love how they get passed down through a family. It's how the spirit of each person lives on in their own way. It is all very cool. Just as Jesus lives on. I like the symmetry.

TV's Take said...

WOW! Sounds like a lot of fun! We had many more xmas traditions when I was a kid (ie. Midnight mass, pizza on xmas eve so we could open our presents quicker etc). Now that I have my own family we will start building in our own traditions. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I love that your man gets into too, even though it's not a part of his religious tradition. Really awesome.


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