Advent · Christmas · Fun

Christmass Song Guess-o-rama

a carol - Lady Laura Teresa Alma-Tadema
a carol – Lady Laura Teresa Alma-Tadema

Resurrecting this for my kids:

from: December 15, 2008

I found this bit of fun over at  Stepping Heavenward.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Guess the Original Christmas Song Titles

01. Felicitations for the Season

02. Sterling Carillon

03. Circuitous gambol of Festive Conifer

04.Awesome hibernal acreage

05.Altitudinous celestials acclaim

06. Senior flattened by cloven aviator

07. Covert observation of matriarch’s scandalous osculation

08. Petite birthplace

09. Sprightly venerable benefactor

10.Allegiants proceed

11. Enquiry of mutual auditory perception

12. Hushed darkness

13. Noel – envisage blanched

14. Inaugural Yule

15. Royal Eastern trio

16.Planetary jubilance

17.Theurgical cool guy

18. Matchless season

19. Full-grown enumeration of holiday hopes

20. Commencement of Yuletide complexion

Christmas Carol Game Answers
01. We Wish You a Merry Christmas | 02. Silver Bells | 03. Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree | 04. Winter Wonderland | 05. Angels We Have Heard on High | 06. Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer | 07. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause | 08. O Little Town of Bethlehem | 09. Jolly Old St. Nicolas | 10. O Come All Ye Faithful | 11. Do You Hear What I Hear? | 12. Silent Night | 13. I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas | 14. The First Noel | 15. We Three Kings of Orient Are | 16. Joy to the World | 17. Frosty the Snowman | 18. It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year | 19. Grown up Christmas List | 20. It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas
Advent · Christmas · Simplicity

Holiday Grand Plan Week Thirteen.

The Official Holiday Grand Plan started on August 31.  In order to accommodate the Advent season I have started earlier, and I hope to have everything in order and ready for a calm and spiritual Advent season.

This week the I am focusing on the Kitchen.  This is totally out of order, but I really need to back up to the kitchen and do a good turn through it and take inventory for the Christmas cooking.  

Last Week’s follow up: I will have the checklist for sorting up soon, God willing.  I bought four new Christmas children’s books for the book basket.

Week Twelve: Cleaning:  The Official Holiday Grand Plan has the kitchen listed on week six.  I like having it closer to the Holidays.  My goals in the kitchen are to do a good clean out of the fridge and freezer, cull the baking supplies, check the pantry and make a final shopping list for the items I will need for the holiday baking.  Don’t forget the cleaning list for the Kitchen.

Preparing for the Holidays: This weekend is the weekend we are making sure the lights work.  I bought my Advent candles already.  Cards should be ready to go by the end of next week. 

Planning:  The Offical Grand Plan has recommendations for this week.  My list is a little different since we started a couple weeks earlier. 

Gifts: I need to make a trip to get some fabric for the boys.  This week I want to get one good shopping trip in. 
Cards:  Still working on my cross stitch cards.  I need to check labels for mailing.
Parties: This week I am doing the first plans for our Christmas eve shin-dig.
Menus: The menu for Christmas eve and what we are bringing to Thanksgiving.
Decorating:  Got those Advent Candles, plan for crafts that will be decorations.  The thanks giving goodies go up this weekend.
Baking: I need to get anything that I don’t have after going through the kitchen. 
Devotionals: I picked up some items for Advent devotionals/crafts.  Later today or tomorrow I will have my Advent page up with our devotionals. 
Traditions: We have new books.  I am looking through to decide which night we would like to go to the Grotto and Zoo lights.  We have a couple parties booked.  St Nicholas day celebrations.  Lot’s of things starting to show up on the calendar.

Advent · Christmas · Simplicity

Holiday Grand Plan Week Twelve.

The Official Holiday Grand Plan started on August 31.  In order to accommodate the Advent season I have started earlier, and I hope to have everything in order and ready for a calm and spiritual Advent season.

This week the I am focusing on the Dinning Room and the Children’s rooms.  My dinning room is very straight forward so there isn’t a ton of cleaning there.  Normally I would have done the children’s clothing at the middle of October, but this has slipped a month.  This is a good time to go through the children’s toys and toss/donate anything that isn’t played with.  

Weeks before follow up: The past two months have thrown me completely off task, life happens.  This is almost a restart so I have to take a little time to evaluate where I am this week.

Week Twelve: Cleaning:  The Dinning Room  page at the original Holiday Grand Plan is very helpful.
Children’s rooms: the Grand Plan cleaning page is a good place to start.  The main goal this week is to get all the summer clothing/too small/torn, stained and otherwise clothing out of the children’s drawers.  I am rather ruthless in this.  I developed a checklist for the children’s clothing that I use to “prune back” to and by following it I save myself a great deal of work in laundry and clothing maintenance.  I also want to go through the children’s toys.  As they grow they do out-grow certain things, some thing break, others aren’t played with.  By pruning the toys not only do I make room for the Christmas gifts that will soon be coming, but I create a great deal of sanity in my life.

Preparing for the Holidays: This week I am looking for some new holiday books.  We will pull the decorations up from the basement and double check what is working, broken, missing etc.   The goal is to have holiday gifts done by the first week in December. 

Planning:  The Offical Grand Planhas recommendations for this week.  My list is a little different since we started a couple weeks earlier.  The USPS had a Holiday Planner for mailing gifts.  Check it out.  If you are mailing gifts over-seas these need to be going out right now.  (USPS suggests last week for gifts for overseas troops).  We are finalising our Thanksgiving plans.

Gifts: I have fabric for the girls Santa Jammas  I need to make a trip to get some fabric for the boys. 
Cards:  Still working on my cross stitch cards.  I need to double check my mail list and order stamps.
Parties: No planning for parties this week.
Menus: No Holiday menu planning this week.
Decorating: Taking down the Halloween decorations and checking the lights and decorations.
Baking: The stores are starting to offer holiday baking items, it is a great time to stock-up.  This week we need to purchase any needed containers for freezing and gift giving. 
Devotionals: We got our Advent candles from our Little Flowers group.
Traditions: Checking the needed items for our wreath and Advent decorations..

Advent · Christmas · Homemaking · My world

Holiday Grand Plan Week Four.

The Official Holiday Grand Plan started on August 31.  In order to accommodate the Advent season I have started earlier, and I hope to have everything in order and ready for a calm and spiritual Advent season.

This week is the post for week four, delayed but not forgotten.

This week the Master Bedroom is getting a good cleaning.   

Week Two follow up: The past two weeks have been a bit “up in the air” for me with us starting schooling and with Kyle being gone.  So far so good though.  The cleaning schedule is going well and the planning is starting to really take shape.

Week Three: Cleaning:  The Master bedroom.  Since the children aren’t allowed to play in our room it is the cleanest and most organised room in our home.   Easy week this week.

Preparing for the Holidays:  If you are going to order Christmas cards this is a good time to starting thinking about that.  We are looking at getting family pictures made later this month.  It is a good time to get a photo sitting, it takes time to get photos back and near the holidays appointments are at a premium.

Planning:  The Offical Grand Plan has recomendations for this week.  My list is a little different since we started a couple weeks earlier.

Gifts: I have a list and am checking it twice.  I want to sew pajamas this year.  The fabric stores are getting in their holiday fabrics and the craft stores are stocking up as well.  I will start the purchasing for gifts to buy in two weeks. 
Cards: This week I start working on my cross stitch cards.
Parties: No planning for parties this week.
Menus: No Holiday menu planning this week.
Decorating: No decorating this week.
Baking: I have my cookie and candy lists and I am starting to watch for sales for thing I will need. 
Devotionals: We are considering a Jesse Tree this year – I have a couple websites that I have been looking at for this.  I want to have an Advent Calendar, an Advent Wreath and an Advent Chain – I purchased a calendar last year that will be useable this year.  We have the items for the wreaths and the chain.  I would like to print out prayer books for the Advent Season – I am keeping my eyes open for art work for these.
Traditions: Nothing really planned for this week.

Things keep moving along. Next week I will start adding in some of the fall plans (whoopee).

Advent · Christmas · Homemaking · My world

Holiday Grand Plan Week Three.

The Official Holiday Grand Plan starts on August 31.  In order to accommodate the Advent season I have started earlier, and I hope to have everything in order and ready for a calm and spiritual Advent season.

We had a fantastic trip last weekend and we have started schooling again.  This is the third week for the Grand Plan, The Entry/Foyer week.  Since my house is a little different than the Grand Plan I am also adding my laundry room to the list. 

Week Two follow up: My time away gave me a chance to think about the Questions from last week.   I made notes in my planner to help me keep our goals in mind.  We want to be sure that this year we emphasise the spiritual and play down the material, focusing on “special times” not “special things”. 

Week Three: Cleaning:  The entry/foyer/laundry room is my focus this week. 

Preparing for the Holidays:  Check out the holiday prep items.  This week I am making plans for the holiday baking.  Each year I like to make six types of cookies and three candies.  By deciding what we will make this week I can keep my eyes open for sales and stock up on the good stuff when it goes on sale.  I also need to check my craft supplies to see if there is anything I have on hand that should be used so I am not buying what I own.

Planning:  The lists continue to get fleshed out as I work on them.

Gifts:  I am starting to think of specific gifts for the people on my lists. 
Cards: I need to get patterns for the cross stitch cards and then start looking into cards for the rest of my list.
Parties: We will be doing our Christmas eve party.  I am still thinking about how we want to do this.
Menus: I want to have some freezer meals made for when things get a little nutty near the holidays.
Decorating: Everything seems to be in good shape from last year.  I haven’t checked the lights, but I will do that once they go on sale again.
Baking: I need the cookie and candy list finished. 
Devotionals: We are considering a Jesse Tree this year.  I want to have an Advent Calendar, an Advent Wreath and an Advent Chain.  I would like to print out prayer books for the Advent Season.
Traditions: Are we going to need tickets for special events? When do they go on sale? which things do we definitely want to do?  Still working on this.  Zoo lights and maybe the Nutcracker with my mom.

Again I have to keep reminding myself that the goal isn’t to blow Chritmas bigger it is to make the planning easier.  Hope everyone has a great week.

Advent · Christmas · Homemaking · My world · Simplicity

Holiday Grand Plan Week Two.

The Official Holiday Grand Plan starts on August 31.  In order to accommodate the Advent season I have started earlier, last week, and I hope to have everything in order and ready for a calm and spiritual Advent season.

The weather has been cooler this week and I have been busy so far.  Getting things ready for Back to school(ing) and getting ready for the end of summer cabin trip has taken up a bit of time.  This week is Question Week, one of my favorite aspects of planning.   

Week One follow up: The children and I did a good scrub-a-dub on the porch and Kyle helped with re organising the area.  I have a list of outdoor maintenance items that need attended to next month and my lists have been created. 

Week Two: Cleaning:  This week we come indoors.  Here is where my cleaning list departs from the Official Grand Plan list.  And really, that is ok.  My house is laid out differently than the person who made the list.  I don’t have a guest room, master bath or family room.  I do have a home office and if I tried to fit both children’s rooms into one week I would go more than a little batty.  So we switch it up a bit.  This week I am actually NOT doing a room.  Basically because I am going to be gone most of the week.  If you are doing this along with me you might want to take a look at the cleaning schedule that the grand plan uses and think through how to make it work for you home.  We all have different houses and no one list is going to work for everyone.

Preparing for the Holidays:  Taking stock.  Every year I go out after the Holiday’s and snag a few rolls of paper, a bag or two of ribbons and maybe some cute tags and gift bags.  I also try to hit the art supply store and catch their clearance racks in late November and then again after Christmas.  But all of that won’t do me a bit of good if I don’t take the time to figure out what I have and where it is.  So my big thing for preparing for the holidays this week is checking out what I’ve already got on hand for Christmas and Advent.

Planning:  Last week I made up my basic lists this week I am fleshing them out and adding to them.  We also have some questions to think about.

Gifts:  What are we buying and how much are we spending and how important is the whole “gift thing” anyhow?   (insert anti-consumerism rant here).  What gifts am I making? 
Cards: How many cards do I need?  Which cards am I cross stitching?
Parties: We will be doing our Christmas eve party.  Is there anything we want to do differently?
Menus: What can I do ahead?  What are the menus for the feast days? If there are any new recipes I want to try for the big Holiday meals I want to make them at least once before hand.
Decorating: Do I know where my decorating stuff from last year is?  Do I need to replace anything?  Is there anything new I would like?
Baking: I need the cookie and candy list finished.  What gifts am I baking?
Devotionals: What worked in years past?  What didn’t? How can we focus more fully on Christ during the Advent season?  When I get home I am goingto be looking around online for some new ideas.  Are there any books I want to look through?
Traditions: Are we going to need tickets for special events? When do they go on sale? which things do we definitely want to do?

The goal for this week is to get the “theme” of Christmas set.  Note, this isn’t some marathon planning session where I decide in nitty gritty detail what each moment of each day will be.  Nor is the idea to blow Christmas into the focus of the next 12 weeks.  The goal is to set aside a small amount of time for Christmas/Advent planning early enough that I am not stressed and rushing around during Advent.  The other thing I like about the “Grand Plan” is that I will be able to hit each area of my home for a deep clean/organization session.   In theory I would do this anyway, but in practice it doesn’t get done unless I plan for it.

Catholic homemaking · Catholic Homeschooling · Christmas · Homemaking · Mary Mary and Martha · My world · Simplicity

Holiday Grand Plan Week One.

The Official Holiday Grand Plan starts on August 31.  In order to accommodate the Advent season I am starting earlier, this week, and I hope to have everything in order and ready for a calm and spiritual Advent season.

Week One
It is the middle of August and December Holidays and the cold and snow of winter seem a million miles away, but we all know that they are right around the corner.  It is also a busy time for moms.  School is starting, the summer is ended, there are peaches to preserve and weeds to pull and all those small projects that need doing in between squeezing in a last bit of summer fun or beating off the late summer heat. 

Cleaning:  The front porch is the space on the agenda this week.    While I am outside looking at my front porch I am also looking around the outside of the house and making some notes for the fall maintenance.  The cleaning list linked above is a good place to start. 

Planning:  I use my family planning notebook instead of a separate holiday planner.  This is called “List week” because you are setting up your lists.  I have the following that I am making:

Gift list – who we are shopping for
Card list – collect and update addresses
Parties – which parties we will host
Menus – menus for the holiday meals we will be hosting and rough menus for the Holiday season.
Decorating – plan for decorating for Advent and Christmas
Baking – plan for the baking needs for gifts and goodies
Devotionals – what devotionals will we be doing during Advent/Christmas and what supplies we will need
Traditions – things we enjoy doing as a family or things we might want to experience this year for the first time.

The main goals of the lists at this point are to decide a rough budget and space out the shopping for the Holidays, make sure that we have things we need ready (no shopping for Advent Candles the day after Thanksgiving), and to just get a handle on things.

I am not printing out additional calendar pages, because my master planner has the calendar in it already.   Most lists I make on the computer and then print out lists that I need for my dayrunner or my family planning notebook as needed.

Advent · Catholic homemaking · Christmas · Homemaking · My world · Simplicity

Christmas and Advent 2008

I walked into Fred Meyer’s the other day and tucked away near the cards and the books was the first Christmas display, the American Greetings ornaments I believe.   Normally I am rather perturbed by the consumer driven tendency to market Christmas earlier and earlier each year, but this year I looked at it and thought about how dizzying the Advent/Christmas season is.  Every year I hope to be more organised and for the last few years I have note of “The Holiday Grand Plan” which starts holiday planning in the last week of August and finishes it in the main planning endeavors by the middle of December. 

Normally I forget all about the “Grand Plan” until mid October.  This year I actually remembered about it early enough to bump it back two weeks so I can use it for Advent and Christmas.  I plan to bump the Grand Plan back to August 17 and “Tweak” it so that I can focus on Advent too.

Christmas Alliance

Have Yourself a Merry Little Whatever.

The cashier at the store in the red Santa hat smiled and said, “Happy Holidays” as she handed me my change, I smiled back and said,  “Merry Christmas.”


I never envy retail workers and during the Christmas shopping season my heart really goes out to them.  It can be the worst time of year to be dealing with the public.  There are those cheerful souls, the ones who come in from pouring rain or drifting snow, if they don’t find exactly what they want they are delighted enough to find something they didn’t expect.  They are content to wait in line knowing everyone is busy and the store staff is working as hard as they can.  These are the ones who thank the floor person for the extra help, hum Christmas carols to themselves while they let the old woman with the huge package ahead of them in line; they hand out candy canes to the checkout clerk and drop a dollar into the Salvation Army bucket.  But these folks are literally one in one hundred. 


Grumpy and Unhappy customers seem to be much more common, maybe one in thirty. 


Grumpy the Holiday Shopper comes in with their nose out of joint that they had to walk a whole 100m across the parking lot and they grumble about the weather.  This person is likely as not to go ballistic when the latest in thing is sold-out and crossly interrogate to floor person to see if there might be one in the back storage.  They stand unhappily in line sure that the store staff is dawdling just to make people wait and feel very put out if another register is opened and the manager assists the old woman with the huge package behind them to the front of the new line.   To this customer there is nothing safe to say. Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, saying either could land you in trouble if you are a store clerk during the Christmas season.


It could be that Grumpy the Holiday shopper is not a Christian.  They are just there because their toaster broke and they needed one.  It could be that they are very sensitive to the different faiths of our plural society, they don’t want to see anyone offended and are put-out that they have to buy Christmas presents for their nominally religious family members because they are going to “The Big Holiday Feast” at their mother-in-law’s.  For any myriad of reasons Grumpy the Holiday shopper doesn’t want to be wished “Merry Christmas”.  And Lord have mercy on the clerk or store manager if they are because Grumpy is going to take out all their Holiday frustrations on them both.  And if the clerk and manager don’t bow low enough and act subservient enough you can bet that Grumpy will be writing letters to headquarters instead of Santa.


So the manager will bow low to Grumpy and tell the staff “No more ‘Merry Christmas’, let’s just stick to ‘Happy Holidays’”.  Happy Holidays is safe enough.  No one could be offended there.  It is traditional, been around a while, featured in songs and cards for as long as any of us remember.  Safe, won’t make anyone angry and certainly won’t lead to complaint letters being fired off to head quarters.   


Then comes in Unhappy the Christmas shopper.  They are there because it is Christmas and they are Christian.  They Celebrate Christmas with a Capital C and they always remember the Reason for the Season, it is emblazoned on the bumper sticker on the back of their car.   Last week at worship they heard a great sermon about the “War on Christmas” and, being a good prayer warrior, they are looking to defend traditional Christian values in a secular world, while making a quick stop at the local store to pick up the latest consumer item.  They aren’t happy to be there.  They are less happy when they realize that said item is sold out.  They are not happy that the floor person won’t go back to the back room to look for it on the flimsy excuse that they had checked earlier.  They don’t want to wait in line and when the new register opens up and the store manager escorts the old woman with the huge package to the front of the new line they feel a twinge of guilt that they hadn’t noticed her behind them because they were too busy looking at the clerks un-godly nose piercing and wondering if they would be able to find a quick way to witness to them.  Finally Unhappy reaches the front of the line and forces out a cheerful “Merry Christmas” to which the clerk dutifully replies “Happy Holidays. How dare they not acknowledge the religious significance of the Lord’s birth in our Great Nation founded on Faith, God and Religious Liberty? Lord have mercy on the clerk and store manager because Unhappy is going to take out all their Christmas frustrations on them both.  And if the clerk and manager don’t bow low enough and act subservient enough you can bet that Unhappy will be writing letters to headquarters instead of Santa.


It is at this point that the floor person reconsiders the offer to work in their brother’s auto body shop, the store clerk with the nose-piercing decides to go back to college and the store manager decides to enlist in the Army.  Life in retail during the big shopping season is hard.  And right now the “Christmas wars” are just adding to the frustration.


I have mentioned before that I am a big fan of a firm separation of Church and State.  But I am also a big fan off people just lightening up a little bit and not taking things so very, very seriously.  If your local “Shop Mart” or “Mall Store” aren’t plastering Nativity scenes and “Merry Christmas” all over the store it is actually pretty normal.  As a child I remember Christmas in “Small Town America”.  I remember a lot of  “Happy Holidays” banners, sure the court house had a nativity in the front,  but the decorations around town consisted mostly of white garland and green and red Christmas bows and balls and lots of flocking.  Ahhh the 70s in ranch country Oregon. 


But it also will not kill anyone, nor should it offend anyone to hear a store clerk say “Merry Christmas”.   And when stores and shopping centers do the almost unheard of thing of having “Christmas” included in something it is more a matter that most Americans celebrate the nominally Christian Holiday know as Christmas by shopping for all the latest consumer good and  giving lots of gifts.  It is the minority of Americans who actually celebrate Christmas the Nativity of Jesus Christ.  While Christians “own” the Nativity of Christ the word “Christmas” does not necessarily dictate that one is celebrating that event.  “Christmas” is also celebrated as a completely secular event by many people. Jesus is the “Reason for the Season” but there are other reasons to celebrate Christmas and not all Americans are in it for the same thing. In a free society where diverse religious expression is honored that should be OK.   I think both the secular and Christian community would benefit from remembering this.


So, for what it is worth, here are my “let’s be sensible and get a grip” suggestions:


Jesus is the reason for my season.  If you want to celebrate Santa and presents have fun.  You can even call your celebration Christmas. It is OK to celebrate Christmas however you want.  It can be a religious holiday or not as a person’s conscience and pleasure dictate.  


If your local community has a Nativity Scene, Christmas tree or “Charles Dickens’s Christmas on Main Street Celebration” that’s OK.   Because the community, municipality, state or other, is not creating a State religion they are honoring the diverse religious expression of their community by paying a brief and innocuous homage to a very important celebration of one of their cultural groups.  If you would like them to honor your particular celebration look into setting up something.   Chair the annual Summer Solstice Picnic and art festival in the park and see what happens.  If your Christian neighbors complain promise them that come Christmas time their Nativity Scene is safe on the Courthouse lawn and that the annual Summer Solstice Picnic and art festival does not mean the community, municipality, state or other, is creating a State religion they are honoring the diverse religious expression of their community by paying a brief and innocuous homage to a very important celebration of one of their cultural groups. 


If your local school has a Winter Pageant and there are Christmas carols and nods to other faiths and traditions that is all ok.  Don’t get in a twist over the carols or the fact that it is a “Winter” pageant.  Since you were a kid in school many families have moved into your community, some of them are Hindi and some are Muslim and a few are other things you haven’t heard of.  The school wants to include them all and that is ok.  If you just moved here and don’t like the carols grow a thicker skin, this is a plural society and some of us sing carols. 


If you are a teacher or a principal and your students say Merry Christmas or sing carols or write poetry or essays or do art work depicting the birth of Christ that is OK.  They have the right to express their faith.  You have the right to express your faith too, or lack of faith, even if it is different than mine, but you don’t have the right to try to indoctrinate the children in it.  That goes just as much if you agree with me as if you don’t. 


If you are a Christian business owner, or just one looking to market to Christians it is ok to play carols and say “Merry Christmas”.  It is also ok to say “Happy Holidays”, “Happy Hanukkah” or “Good Yule.”   “Have a nice day”, is ok by me too.  Please feel free to celebrate Christmas or not.  If I am in your store and you wish me a good Eid ul-Fitr I will smile and say thank you.  Your Holiday, not mine, but that is ok I am not particularly in a rush to freak out over other people exercising their constitutionally guaranteed liberties.


The Christian community who would seek to blackmail stores into “Keeping Christ in Christmas” are not only misguided they are shooting themselves in the foot.  You can not force someone to faith.  If they don’t believe it they might say it to placate their Christian Christmas shoppers, but is that really the change we want?   By boycotting stores who sing out “Happy Holidays” we are only doing that which we should fear most.  We are telling others how they must worship, what their faith should be.  We are infringing on religious liberty.   The time may come where mainstream Christianity is a definite minority, in some places this is reality.  Caution should be our watchword when it comes to what we view as acceptable when it comes to commerce and religion.


If you are in a store in December and you had to walk 100m across the parking lot in the sleet only to find the item you wanted sold out, thank the floor clerk when they let you know they have none in the back storage. When you get in line and the line is long, relax, hum a little tune, maybe even a Christmas Carol.  Let the old lady with the huge package ahead of you in line.  Don’t stress out if people behind you are beckoned to the newly opened register.  When the checkout clerk says “Good Yule” smile and say “Marry Christmas” and give her a candy-cane or at least a smile and don’t forget to drop a few coins in the Salvation Army bucket.  Write your letters to Santa or if it is to the store’s headquarters say something nice about the staff, working retail in December is hard.  


And last but not least.  Have a Merry Christmas.

Christmas Alliance

Advent · My world

Happy Saint Nicholas Day


Click here for the 2008 Saint Nicholas Day Post.

Today is St Nicholas Day and we will have sort of a fun time.  Coloring, crafts and cookies. 

Santa and St Nicholas

I have always been sort of an odd duck among my friends in that I don’t really “do” Santa.   Even when the oldest was very little I had a bit of a problem with the idea of telling my child that someone in a red suit flew through the air and gave them presents when I know myself that it is actually not true.   That may sound somewhat fastidious of me or just crazy, but in reality I think we have struck a good balance between the secular celebration of Christmas (the orgy of consumerism) and Christmas (the nativity of Christ).  A good part of that has had to do with our approach to Santa Claus.

Over the years I have discussed our approach to the “Santa thing” many times with various friends and family both online and off.   Most the time I am a bit surprised at just how hostile people can be when you say that you “don’t do Santa”.   Part of this I understand, the most common thing is for  “dear friend or relative” to ask, “why?” and they don’t really appreciate the response.   In reality we never started doing Santa because use I just really couldn’t lie to the kids that way.   I have had a couple people argue with me endlessly that it isn’t lying to say that Santa is real.  I can appreciate the mental gymnastics that go into their arguments, but it just doesn’t fly.  To say a Jolly Old Elf dresses up in red and flies about the world  giving presents to good little boys and girls is not, by any stretch of the imagination objectively true.  

Now I have heard and I do understand all the “magic of the season”, “Harmless fun” , “Spirit of joy and love” , “Childhood memories” and “tradition” arguments.  I am by no means even suggesting that anyone else should do what we do.  What we do is what we do, I get that you might do something else, I am not saying you are dishonest or  hurting your children in any way, I get why you do what you do I just don’t quite agree.   I don’t quite get the “Your poor kids!” argument which seems to get tossed my way quite a bit– they enjoy the season very much and look forward to Christmas with all the pleasure of any young children.  They don’t miss any of the fun, joy, love, tradition and they have fantastic childhood memories.  We just don’t “do” Santa but that doesn’t mean that we toss out the Christmas tree and presents, have no cookies, no stories, forbid the mention or fantasy of Santa, that we don’t hang stockings or sing carols or sip eggnog. 

We read stories about Christmas, both the Nativity and the secular stories.  The children are in fact delighted with the idea of the secular Santa.   But it is along the lines of how they look at Peter Pan or The Wizard of Oz.  We do talk about St Nicholas on December sixth.  We discuss his life and why he is remembered this time of year, we make “CandyCane Cookies” (the Bishop’s/Shepherd’s staff), some years we go to our parish event or to the Grotto.   Some years ago at the Grotto one of the monks dressed as St Nicholas  gave the children candy-canes.  He didn’t ask what they want for Christmas, he didn’t promise them gifts, but instead he asked them to remember the Baby Jesus and to do their best to be good.   That I love.   I love seeing the Saints brought to life for our children and I love hearing them promise to remember their Savior and strive to be good.  It highlight the biggest intellectual problem I have with Santa Claus.  The “gimmies”.   

Once, a year or two before Ashley was born, I was at a shopping mall during Christmas.  Hectic and in its own way fun.  I have often referred to shopping malls as “Temples of Consumerism” not sure where the term originated, but it has stuck in my head.  I was looking over from the second level below to the “Santa’s Village” display.  Here was the God of consumerism seated in red velvety glory, his liveried attends assisting the supplicants as they approach the throne to tell him their requests.  Mothers grooming their tots to catch the perfect picture to accompany the “Christmas Letter” for friends and relatives and leading them up to sit on the big man’s lap.  Some of the children were happy and excited, coming forward with letters in hand detailing exactly what they wanted, others horribly afraid many were bored in the line, stressed out parents — all in all it was a really strange affair.  Completely commonplace and yet in some part of my brain completely alien.  It mad me question the whole “thing”.    It was beautiful in a way and yet off-putting as well.

There is no doubt that most adults have wonderful memories of their childhood Christmases.  Drifting to sleep Christmas eve hoping to hear the faint tinkle of sleigh bells in the distance, almost believing they do as they slip into dreams of Christmas morning  where they will receive the gifts they have been hoping for.   It is really an enchanting thing.  And yet there is always that “horrible” child in school who learns “the truth” and then tells all their peers.  I really shudder to hear how I have heard such children described.  One of the other very common things I hear is that my children must somehow be out to ruin the Christmas Joy for all their peers since they aren’t raised with the misconception that Santa is Real.   What a sad ignorance of the power of fantasy on children’s minds.  Children can delight in and believe in for a moment anything, any fantastical thing they can create in their imaginations.  All stories are for the moment real.  There are princesses with glass slippers, elves, fairies, teddy bears talk, and toys spring to motion when no one is looking in a child’s world.  Santa can be part of that, loved and enjoyed and treasured yet put away in a moment. 

Parent’s don’t need to say something is true for their children to enjoy to thought of it.  My children love the whole idea of Santa, but they don’t believe in Santa why way the believe in God or England.   There has been no crushing moment of “discovery”;  I have never had to utter the words “Thems that believe receive thems that don’t don’t”.   They slowly outgrow the Santa story the same way they leave behind the puzzle with ten pieces or nursery rhymes.  A loved part of happy childhood, but not the big part it is to some others.