So, last Christmas my DS was old enough to recognize & enjoy the holidays. I got so focused on Santa that about a week before, and to my embarassment, I realized that I had fallen way short of telling him about Jesus' birth! This year, DS is participating in Sunday School, and I am also making sure that I explain Advent and that we're waiting for baby Jesus to come on Christmas. His preschool participates in special service projects throughout the year, and they will be teaching the children about giving to others during this season as well.
Has anyone else gotten so involved in the holiday rush and taken the true meaning of the season for granted? How do you balance the secular and spiritual aspects of the holidays with your families?
We're a Pagan family, but I try to take a page from the Waldorf tradition of "inhale/exhale" by marking my calendar with "holy days" and "holidays" during this season...
Celebrating the "Holidays" during December include making gingerbread houses, and sitting with Santa, and getting a tree, and going on a carol sing, and other social, fun, festive but ultimately not very "religious" activities.
Celebrating the "Holy Days" during December means hosting a winter spiral, opening the rays of the sun on the daily Solstice calendar, preparing a meal at a homeless shelter, packing boxes for the Holiday Helper program, and other things that focus on giving, or service, or our actual Religion, or on building a sense of kindness and community.
So at the start of the "season" I sit down with the calendar and make sure that the holy days balance out the holidays. You might try something similar, marking off days where you will focus on the spiritual or religious obligations and responsibilities of the season and then adding days where you'll celebrate in a more secular or social way.
Ours is not nearly so organized and separate. Everything kind of gets thrown together. Books on Solstice, Winter, Yule (still looking for a great one), Jesus' birth and why we celebrate it, and Santa Claus (just for fun, we don't "do" Santa either and we are not religious). Christmas songs. Cutting our own tree from the tree farm down the road and giving thanks to the tree for its life. Decorating the tree-- they get to play with some of the non-fragile ornaments for a day before they go up. We talk about where each one came from and any story attached to them. Solstice dinner by candlelight, which is the one dinner we have just for our little family at our own house. Wrapping presents for dh and each other. More songs. Attending the Winter Faire at the nearby Waldorf school. New Year's Eve at the Zoolights display (and this year we *will* ride the camel!) So far the girls haven't done any Christmas shopping, but I think we will brainstorm a gift for dh and ones from the girls to each other. More books. We haven't discussed Advent, but I did see a "countdown calender" that I liked-- 25 pockets with a little Santa that moves from one to the next. This year we have a little toy raven that sits on the tree in honor of the Solstice-- from my favorite Haida (?)/ Northwest Native story of Raven stealing the light that the old man had stowed deep in a bentwood box, leaving all the world dark. I would love to join a group of carolers with the girls, especially my oldest who would really love that.
A little random, just like this post, though very much the same every year. Balanced? Hmm...
Give me a few minutes while I caffeinate.