Friday, December 03, 2010
A Festive Friday Five
1. Our Advent wreath and calendar. Even though we're not always faithful in lighting the wreath candles, even though we sometimes have to play catchup for a few days with the calendar...we do find a lot of value in observing this season before Christmas in a real, tangible way. It feels pleasingly countercultural; it keeps Christmas, Inc. at bay at our house.
2. Trimming the tree. Or, in our case, trees, since we have two of them. I just love doing this. At our house we wait until just before Christmas Eve; we put on Christmas music, have some eggnog or Christmas tea, and make an event of it.
3. Baking cookies. We do this mostly for export...but it's still fun. And I still have to restrain myself from a repeat of the year in which I made 18 different kinds of cookies.
4. Anonymous gifting. We usually adopt a child or vulnerable adult from our community "giving tree." Oftentimes the requests are so modest that they're almost heartbreaking -- like the child whose card we took one year, who asked for food for her family. "Meet and exceed expectations" is our guideline for giving.
5. The Christmas Eve service. This year it will be more special because I will be assisting at it for the first time. We have an old-fashioned candlelight service with the Eucharist; we hear the Story once again; we sing familiar hymns. Afterward we come home and have a little pre-Christmas-day nosh of Christmas delectables, and exchange our gifts. Good times.
Bonus: What is one thing that really DOESN'T make your Christmas? Definitely the shopping and spending frenzy. We find gifts for our family all year long, so by the time the stores start bringing out the Christmas merchandise we've already finished buying presents, so we've effectively disconnected from most of the Christmas craziness. When I was working, the thing that used to get me the most were the obligatory (de facto, even when the bosses assure staff that they can opt out if they wish) workplace gift exchanges. My church's annual yard sale was enriched for many years by the cast-off candles and other assorted unwanted tschotchkes I'd have to drag home from Christmas parties. The best workplace Christmas gift exchanges I've ever participated in either involved white-elephant gifts or a very low cost ceiling -- say $5 -- that really challenged givers' creativity and knowledge of their giftee.