Rethinking Christmas: Traditions that Matter

By Terresa Wellborn

“It’s always the most conventional things that contain the largest measure of madness.” -Javier Marías It’s that time again…for Santa and reindeer, pine trees and trim, egg nog and caroling. Part of me cringes every year at the overblown time/money/mental and emotional investment this season requires. In the midst of Christmas, where’s the sanity? Is …

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Sparking Joy at Christmas

By Jessie Christensen

One of the best things about Thanksgiving this year was my recent foray into Instagram.  For several days my feed was filled with happy pictures of friends celebrating the holiday in all kinds of ways. There were large, formal tables set with china and linen. Paper plates piled high and balanced on knees. Fried turkey, ham, rolls, kale salad, fried plantains, and at least twenty different kinds of pies. Giant parties held in church cultural halls and smaller groups of two or three. Some friends sidestepped the traditional dinner and took vacations; some went camping, hiking, or played at the beach. There were pictures of triumphs at early morning 5Ks and family football games, and a few cooking fails. A few friends had more somber holidays, as bigger life events like unexpected funerals and beloved family members on hospice care overshadowed their week. No matter what was happening, I felt overwhelmed by the love and joy experienced by family and friends as they spent the holiday in whatever way they could. Everyone’s celebration was a little different, but every celebration was steeped in gratitude for what they had.

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Disorderly Creche Conduct

By Karen Austin

“Tiny Nativity” by Ben Husmann via Creative Commons

It’s the first week in December, and the cultural hall is filled with Christmas trees and display tables.   There are nativity scenes of all shapes and sizes, sitting on richly colored table cloths. There’s music coming from the chapel.  The hallways are echoing with children’s voices as they skip the main displays to find the craft-activity room and the refreshment room.

A quartet finishes singing “O, Holy Night” before a school-aged boy takes a seat at the piano. Most people from the pews have stood up and moved to the aisle to compliment the members of the quartet.  For those straining to hear the pianist, “Silent Night” contains a few additional notes in some spots and lacks notes in others. On the front row, a set of grandparents sit with eyes fixed on the little pianist.  As he pauses to find his place on the music, the boy turns to smile at them.

In the craft room, teen girls are helping toddlers dress up as angels and shepherds for a free photo.  One of the toddlers wants to wear wings and hold a shepherd’s staff. After a while, the teen stops taking the staff out of the little angel’s hand, pats her on the head, and takes the picture.

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Going Mad Before Christmas

By Kellie Purcill

Baking under the unseasonably hot (Spring!) October sky: “Hey, only two months until Christmas!” the burly, bearded truck driver beams. “Are you getting excited?”

Cooking dinner at home: “Mum, book lists for next year are here. They want them back in by November.”

Staff meeting at work two days ago: “….And finally, guys, have a look at the leave calendar and get your leave applications in ASAP, we need to be organised over Christmas and New Year.”

Christmas decorations and food were on the shelves on the first of October. Even before the Halloween insanity. Mayday, mayday, the black hole of the Christmas Season is sucking me in! Beam me out, Gandalf!

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‘Tis the season to give each other goodies (but I really wish we wouldn’t)

By Melissa McQuarrie

I know that some of you out there enjoy giving and receiving neighbor gifts at Christmas time. In fact, right now you’re putting the finishing touches on your homemade, hand-dipped chocolates or your caramel macadamia nut popcorn balls before deftly wrapping them in cellophane and gold French ribbon and delivering them to snow-covered homes all over the block. If you’re one of those people, you may want to skip this post. But if you’re like me, and the thought of having to come up with a cutsey neighborhood gift every year makes you want to stab your eyes out with your scalloped-edged scissors, then by all means, read on.

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