I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas. Please tell me I’m not the only one?
There’s definitely much love. I don’t lack in Christmas spirit – because I truly love the good stuff. But the hate part is the pressure. You know, the pressure to buy presents, to cook food, to send cards, to be somewhere. Coupled with that is the madness of consumerism and materialism.
But the good stuff makes all the madness worth it. I adore the tiny details. The symbols, the traditions, the rituals. They are comforting and connecting. And there’s a reason behind all the things we do. They give meaning to our lives. Isn’t that what life is all about?
When you have children (so I’ve discovered) Christmas rituals and traditions seem to take shape like never before. As a family we’ve made conscious choices about what traditions we’d like to carry from what we’ve inherited, and what new ones we’d like to create. Our little family is a new one… a fresh start. New little people who are forming their own memories now.
A few days ago my four year old daughter reminded me of this by asking ‘why’ we were doing the Christmassy things we were doing. So I sat down and answered her list.
We put up a tree to symbolise new life, new growth.
We put a star and lights on our tree to symbolise peace, joy and love.
We listen to Christmas carols because its fun and the words remind us of Christmas traditions the world over.
We give things to people who might not have as much as we do because it’s the right thing to do. It makes them feel happy and that’s an awesome feeling.
We eat a delicious Christmas dinner to celebrate family and all that we are grateful for.
We tell the nativity story to remind us of our beliefs, and also of humble beginnings, of mercy and hope, and of the divine in the ordinary.
And there are of course many more things we do.
This year I decided on one little thing I’d like to start doing. This year on Christmas Eve I’d like to give a special book to my kids. A bedtime story to last the long night of excitement.
In my search to find a special book, I came across this one. It is stunning. It is exactly how I want my Christmas stories to be… earthy, fresh, and majestic. And the words? They’re breathtaking.
It’s written by one of my favourite authors, Jeanette Winterson. I had no idea she wrote children’s books too.
Here are a few snippets of the magic.
I can’t wait to read it to my children tonight.
We all do different rituals for different reasons. What rituals do you do at Christmas? And why do you do them?