I am an unabashed holiday lover. The goodness, the gladness, the joy of the season is something I relish. Not only that, I grew up with a family that considered Christmas the beginning of the Christmas celebrations rather than a finish line to reach. We continue that mindset with our children by celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas. We do something small and seasonal each day through Jan 5th. While I know that can sound overwhelming, it has been a tremendous gift to our family and well worth the added celebrations such as a lavish brunch, fancy tea party or outdoor adventures that get added in to our days post-holiday. I have found not only does this practice avoid the cosmic let down that can descend on Dec 26th, it also sets us up for a New Year of joy and celebration.
That being said, here we sit mid-January and am I the only one missing the holidays?!
Last holiday season my family started a new (to us) tradition of lighting candles in an advent wreath the weeks leading up to Christmas. It was a sweet time each evening as we got the table ready for dinner and lit the designated candles. The glow at the table was magical. More than that, I noticed we all drew a bit closer to each other, the children were a bit calmer and the dinner time was altogether more lovely. Post-holiday I of course cleaned up the wreath and candles and forged on with dinner-as-usual. After two meals we were really missing the magic and glow of our dinnertime candles. And that is when it occurred to me….this was something that I could easily carry on, holiday or not.
For almost every night since that December we have candles of some form or another on our table. It has been a gift to all of us. A little piece of Christmas magic that we can carry on. And that got me thinking what else could we stretch out a bit more?
From a tangible perspective there were several other elements that we have chosen to carry on well past the holidays. We have several Christmas trees during the holiday season-big and full and colorful, fancy, golden and more reasonably sized. And then we have our kitchen tree. A sweet little Charlie Brown tree that we all love. Having a Charlie Brown tree started when my brother was old enough to walk into the woods behind our house and cut his own tree and has continued on long after the woods are gone. One of our first acts of Christmas preparations is heading to my sister’s farm to cut a kitchen tree. The kitchen tree is sweet and spindly and barely strong enough to support one strand of lights. Yet somehow, every year it is so special. And you guessed it, it stays up well past Christmas. In fact, we have gone so far as to make pipe cleaner hearts that we cover it with for Valentine’s Day. I’m not sure what exactly it is about that tree but the combination of the lights and the unexpected décor in the kitchen make it simply magical and who doesn’t need a bit of magic in the cold days of the Northeast?
I am sure there are parts of your holiday décor that you love. Is it the greenery, the festive bunting, the handmade quilt or is the glow of the candles? I encourage you to find a piece or two that can live on in your home just a bit longer and continue the magic for you as well.
Of course all this talk of letting the holidays linger had me thinking about the true meaning of this special season. When you strip away the hustle and bustle you are left with some pretty amazing things. For me the holidays are filled with more visits with friends and family. If I was able to continue that throughout the year what a difference it would make! Time with your loved ones becomes more precious with each passing year so why leave it to be only important during such a short season?
I definitely make serving others and gift giving a priority during the holidays. But what if we approached the whole year ready to give? Ready to serve? How different would our communities look?
How different would our own families look? Of course the truth is when we give to others we are really the ones that receive and what a wonderful gift to give yourself throughout the year. Think of others, serve them well, be quick with a gift and a kind word.
Lastly, I think the most intangible thing that permeates the holidays is this sense of Joyful Expectation. Children demonstrate this the best of course. They spend their days awash in a confidence that something good is coming and will be worthy of celebration. It is a positive outlook taken to the nth degree. That one causes me to stop for a moment. Do I live my day to day life with a mindset awash in expectation?
What if we entered January full of joyful expectation, confident that something good was coming and will be worth of celebration. What a 2018 we would have sitting in joyful expectation!
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