This time of year spicy candles fill my home with smells of apple cinnamon and pine trees. Outside the snow is still and bright from reflecting any light that might enter its atmosphere, even on a cloudy day. Our Christmas tree is full of brown, gold, and leopard pattern ornaments with occasional random ones we chose to represent ourselves. My daughter has a multi-colored leopard print Converse sneaker ornament, small enough to fit our tree and it obviously belongs to her. Mine is a cute little squirrel and a birdcage. My husband doesn’t have any. My son made a cross from Sunday School that either got thrown away or is swimming around in our car with various McDonalds paraphernalia. So apparently it’s not one of our more important traditions, but we try.
A lot of people have traditions this time of year. If you have children in school it’s expected that you will probably attend some sort of Christmas recital or holiday program. I had the pleasure of sitting through two of them. My daughter’s program was sweet, but we had to juggle our 4-year-old while at the same time our Kindle was broken.
You can be like my mother and say he should be old enough to sit and be happy to pay attention, but surprise, my son is active. Active, active, active. The first 10 minutes into the program I was using cheap tricks to keep him quiet. My favorite trick was telling him to find his favorite cousin (who wasn’t there) in the crowd of singing children.
When my son was tamed, I had fun playing with my new camera and then showing my husband as if it was the first picture I’ve ever taken. My daughter’s program was lovely when I could actually see what was happening. A lady sitting a few rows in front of me held up what seemed like a more enormous than usual iPad that blocked my view. On top of being vertically challenged, it was a real treat. There she was. Holding it over her head like a John 3:16 sign at a football game. It wasn’t really that bad, but at the time I wanted to summon a pea shooter into my possession.
At a different venue on a different day, my son’s recital was adorable, but 3- and 4-year-olds are cute just standing there, so it’s a win anyway. His program was an entire Christmas church service, so the message is one I’ve heard my entire life. We hear it year round, but this time of year it’s more exaggerated and brought into full detail.
I can’t lie, I zoned out a bit — like when your mother-in-law tells you the same story over and over again and you have to pretend like it’s the first time you’ve heard it or even worse, you tell her you remember, but she insists on telling it anyway from beginning to end. It’s like that. The art of telling a story is often lost, so don’t get me wrong, I appreciate it. These stories are drilled into my brain for an eternity.
Stories that bore into your mind (or bore you out of your mind) are best heard when they’re interactive. It’s like a birthday party. No one wants to just sit around and hear about it, they like to participate! They like to sing the song, eat the cake, give the gifts, and then play with everything. In the same way our family participates by setting out the Nativity set, reading the story together, putting up decorations, and singing Christmas songs. Sitting in one spot while someone talks at you for a couple hours is not my happy place. So I took a note from these thoughts and applied them.
At our church on Sunday morning, I had the pleasure of teaching the 3- and 4-years-olds the Christmas story. They held the figurines of all the usual suspects from the Nativity set while I read them the Christmas story from a giant picture book. Later they got to add stickers to a nativity scene background hanging on the wall. There were overlapping characters and sheep flying in the sky, but they’re 3 years old. Perfectly normal. They ate sugar cookies as they colored foam crosses to give to their parents as ornaments. Most of the ornaments were bejangled, but the parents’ faces lit up as they received the little gifts.
Here’s the thing: When our holiday traditions are over, we thank them for the affair. We say goodbye, see you in 11 months! We hope to meet you there. We say hello to another day, but the tidings don’t end here. We have the pleasure to greet and gladly receive this brand new year!
Kasi McClure enjoys being a wife and mother of two in Kenai. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.