A Holiday of Comfort and Joy

IMG_4605There are so many delightful things concerning the holiday season. I cannot begin to describe how much fun it is for me to think about Christmas, let alone start preparing for it. And it just keeps getting more fun now that Jane is at an exciting stage of being, well, excited about things! For example, when we set up the tree, she kept exclaiming, “WOW! TREE! PRETTY!” (it’s pretty interesting when your parents suddenly decide to put a huge tree INSIDE the house and hang things on it…) (she even hung a dishtowel on it one day.) b

What sorts of things do you think of when you think “Christmas”? How long have your traditions been going on for your family? Do you have any special “only at Christmas” events or activities that happen?

Growing up, I loved my mom’s Christmas bread. I looked forward to Christmas morning breakfast all year round. And Christmas cookies. Two of our favorite kinds are Russian Teacakes and Chocolate Holiday Butter Cookies. So so so good. Comforting cookies that are paired perfectly with a mug of hot tea or coffee.

IMG_4608

Now that I am married, Caleb and I are able to start making our own traditions, incorporating the traditions of our families and adding some of our own. Christmas bread and cookies are still on the schedule for me! along with some special treats that Caleb enjoyed during his childhood. I am working on a little Advent calendar for Jane (yeah, I know, Advent already started…I’m catching up), we have our family readings each night, a candle sits on our table to be lit each Sunday, and the thoughts of how we will enjoy a feast on Christmas day and open presents and sing carols makes my heart so joyful.

IMG_4598

This year will add a new dimension for us, as it will be our first Christmas celebrating in Peru. I will admit that it makes me blue at times not to have family close by or Walmart (maybe I shouldn’t have paired those two things together), and the thought of not being able to hug my family this year or dance fun dances with them or add our stockings to theirs or send boxes of goodies or presents to people can get me down, along with the challenges present here of no quick and easy premade cookie dough or icing for us “art challenged” people (or those with small children…or both of the above), no varied sprinkles and gingerbread house kits, no chocolate chips or readily available special ingredients, no Hobby Lobby or Dollar Tree to pick up those adorable Christmasy trinkets, no huge gatherings on Christmas day, no smell of real evergreens, no Christmas-scented candles, no holiday paper plates, no wide selection of those perfect Christmas things, and no cold weather.

It could get depressing.

BUT

What is important is that we replace those precious traditional things with other new things and learn to celebrate Christmas without depending on all our traditions, or what we read about or listen to time and time and time and time again and become indoctrinated about what constitutes a “perfect Christmas”. A complete celebration of Christmas that is never lacking is one where Christ comes into the world. Wait a minute. That is what we celebrate! EVERY YEAR! Therefore, no matter what, every year is a PERFECT, complete, totally satisfied Christmas! Hallelujah!! It is true that our surroundings and events will change the way we feel, but if we can get into a different mindset a whole new fun side of Christmas will appear: the side that has paneton in abundance (a delicious fruit cake) and chocolatadas (hot chocolate parties), December beach trips, musical Christmas lights all season long, neighborhood streets decorated, homemade egg nog, from scratch sugar cookies and icing, online Christmas music, wreaths on the door, present exchanges, and a whole set of Spanish Christmas carols, and watching another culture’s way of celebrating the extraordinary, amazing story of Christ coming into the world to redeem us.

IMG_4592

IMG_1651So,wherever you are in this world, put on the Christmas music, turn those lights on, munch on a Christmas goody, and sing aloud

“JOY TO THE WORLD, THE LORD IS COME!!”