When I was a young girl, during the advent season, my parents would wake us at the crack of dawn, Monday through Friday, to attend a short advent worship seervice. We would sit in 2 rows of chairs that face each other in the frigid church. Ten would be a large crowd. We would sing hymns acapella, listen to scripture and be on our way in 30 minutes. At that time of day, that temperature, outside and in, and our age, it was 30 minutes of not quite, but almost, torture. Yet, we did it. I'm sure it was difficult for our parents to get us out everyday. It was important to them to expose us to this discipline. It remains a constant memory and something I wish I had the discipline to do with my children. It was a way to wait in spiritual awareness. To depart from the commercial. To be Holy.
Christmas Eve, my sister and I would sleep together. We would gather games to play in the wee hours of the morning, although I don't remember actually playing them, just planning. We were not allowed out of our rooms until 7am. Our house was open on Christmas day, both sets of Grandparents came, cousins, aunts, uncles, and usually a person or two from church who might have found themselves alone otherwise. My best friend lived across the street. I don't really remember exchanging gifts with each other but I do remember going back and forth, visiting.
Christmas eve, candlelight, and Silent Night have always inspired awe, except last year. During the service, communion prayer to be exact, my daughters in front of me, laughing, shaking the pew. I tapped them and gave them "The Look". Then during candle lighting, all is forgiven, I give them another, softer, look, and look behind me to My Handsome Prince, who holds his hands up and mouths "I lost mine". If you have not seen Claymation Christmas bells, check out this link. I asked the girls what had them laughing, and they replied that the prayer started "Sweet Baby Jesus" and they had watched "Taladega Nights" the night before. It was not a holy night, per se, but it was memorable.
The four of us have continued the tradition of a Christmas list. This is no ordinary Christmas list. We list our Reasonable Wants and Outrageous Desires. It is interesting to look back on lists, or even the current one and see what changes from outrageous to reasonable and vice versa.
My sister and her husband host an adult party every year that starts very tasteful, adult, and soon turns raucous when the gift exchange begins.
We celebrate with 4 different sets of parents/Grandparents every year. We open our presents, one person, one gift at a time so all can see. We usually attend Christmas Eve service, National Guard Family Day, Christmas concerts, and have hosted our own holiday ornament exchange.
The constant is church and family.
What are some of your traditions, memories, and plans?