Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

We had a really great Christmas. It was stress free, full of super yummy food, and completely magical. The Christmas angels brought lovely hats, a super fantastic red wagon with ski attachments and a knight on a horse that my son couldn't put down all day.

My husband made dinner today, such a treat. Well, I helped, but I wasn't in charge. Instead of turkey we had rabbit with a mustard-cream-bacon sauce....I can't begin to tell you how amazing it was.

So as I sit by the fire on this cold winter night, I am so thankful for such a wonderful day. It had nothing to do with a mountain of presents (although the children sure got some lovely ones), it was about being together, peacefully with lots of love and no stress at all.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas too, it sure can be a magical time of year when we can stop and appreciate it.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

do you feel like Charlie?

If you haven't paid attention there are only 5 more sleeps until Christmas, actually 4 for those of us that celebrate on Christmas Eve. Something has happened to me this year, I don't know if it is having kids or my age or my lack of money, but I have become deeply reflective about Christmas this year.

The whole thing feels so soul-less. Stores open 24 hours a day, people buying whatever they can just to be able to fill the space under the tree, mothers sighing as they pass the credit card over the counter paying for things that are going to be broken by New Years (and they know it), people who are without the luxury of credit trying to figure out how they are going to give their kids a "nice" Christmas. There is no heart left in this season, it all feels like one giant pink aluminum tree.

Well, all is not lost, at least on this family. We don't have a lot of money, and it is one of the best things going for us. We have found a few family traditions to celebrate this season that has made it a wonderful time for all of us and it doesn't require us to take out a second mortgage on the house. And the best part? It feels like we are able to truly enjoy this season without all the stress and guilt and pile of broken toys at the end of it all.

The first thing we do is celebrate Advent. We start on the first Sunday and light a candle to celebrate the mineral kingdom. The second Sunday was the plant kingdom, the third the animal kingdom and today, the people. The anticipation and excitement around adding new things to the advent wreath and waiting for "The Child of Light" is something that is really nourishing our family, especially our children. This is the darkest time of year in our part of the world and it is so meaningful to look forward to "the coming of the light" whatever that is for you.

A few other things we do....attend the Waldorf Christmas Faire, make window stars, share St. Nicholas Day with our friends, go to the Nutcracker. Today we went to another Christmas fair that had beautiful music, yummy food and hand-made crafts, not commercial at all.

We have also been making presents. I have really been thinking about how we look at giving at this time of year. I don't know about you, but I have been bombarded by sales, discounts, free shipping, give to your mother, give to yourself, holiday buying guides, only three days left to gives me a stomach ache. I tried to rent a movie last night and I couldn't even look for my video without a staff member reminding me that previously viewed movies were buy 2 get one free. It's too much.

So as we approach Christmas Day and you find yourself last minute shopping, I encourage you to stop and think about what this time of year is all about. It's not about big presents or the "wow" factor. It's not about impressing someone or teaching our children that over-consumption is healthy. This time of year is about being with those we care about, kindness and love. Cliche I know, but it's true. Your nephew doesn't care about getting the big huge toxic made in China plastic toy; they just want to be with you. I think this is why we are all feeling so empty around this time of year. What we are all looking for, a spiritual connection to something greater than ourselves, whether it is God, the universe or our families, just can't be purchased at Wal-Mart.

Linus' response to Charlie Brown is timeless, share it with your family.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

happy St. Nicholas Day!

My father is Hungarian. He moved here in the 50's before the Hungarian Revolution broke out and with him he brought the tradition of St. Nicholas Day. December 6th was more exciting to me than Christmas. This is the day that I would wake up to see my brightly polished shoes sitting on the window sill full of treats. I loved it. I loved the Christmas Angels too, but more on that later.

So now that we have two little ones, it is so exciting to me to share this tradition with my children. They began polishing their shoes two days ago and this morning they woke up to find them full of Christmas oranges, a bundle of golden nuts (roasting chestnuts wrapped in gold paper), a candy cane, scarves and hats, and a few little toys. Since we were having a party for our friends today, their children's shoes magically appeared on our window sill as well, also full of goodies. And just so our children knew which way he came from, there was a trail of golden stars that went from the window sill all the way to the back door.

I have been pondering all day why this celebration is so special to me. Maybe it's because it isn't surrounded by all the pressure and hoopla that Christmas is (this is not the time for gift gluttony), maybe it's because St. Nicholas was a real saint and I can truly believe in him or maybe it is just the magical idea of this kind old man who fills the shoes of children while they are asleep with wonderful little presents. Whatever it is, all 7 children and 8 adults had a wonderful time today. This is a beautiful tradition to start with your family if you are not already doing it. Your kids will love it!

Here are the words to a song we sang as we played our St. Nicholas game...

"Kind old man St. Nicholas Dear
please come to my house this year
Here's some straw and here's some hay
For your little donkey grey
Please put something in my shoe
I've been good the whole year through..."