I don’t know about you, but I love the whole Christmas season! I love Halloween and Thanksgiving too, and I like to enjoy them each in order, but I love how Christmas is the crowning glory of the whole enchilada! When we lived in the suburbs, I found it difficult to have as simple a Christmas as I would have liked. I tried, always unsuccessfully, to pare down what we and others bought for my kids. They always got too much stuff.
Since moving to the island, I have finally convinced my husband to take it easy on gifts. The simple fact is, we don’t have anywhere to put anything. We got rid of most of our possessions when we moved here, because our house is half the size and came fully furnished. This year my kids are getting a few things that they need and/or want, and that’s it. It’s not going to be the extravaganza that is was in the past. I’m so relieved!
Even though in the past the gifts always seemed to get out of control, I think Ive always done a good job of not making Christmas all about the presents. I tried to put the focus on the things we do together like baking cookies, listening to carols, and watching Christmas specials. This year has been even more special because we are close to family and we’ve gotten to do those things with my parents.
We decorated the tree together, watched Santa ride through our village on top the fire truck, baked cookies, and watched what we call “Sappy/Happy/Crappy” Christmas movies. The Sappies are especially good this year because now I live in one of those small, picturesque, Mom-n-Pop shop towns that are at the center of all the movies.
Here’s a funny story that will give you an idea of what it’s like to live in a tiny town… we went to a local church one Sunday to check it out because we planned to go to church on Christmas Eve and we wanted to make sure the pastor wasn’t a wackadoodle (he’s new and we don’t know him yet). Normally we have house church with my family, but we want to go to regular church on Christmas Eve for the carols and the candlelight. Well, when we went to regular church to check it out, my son got drafted into the Christmas play and that meant we had to keep coming, at least until Christmas, so that he could practice. So for the last three weeks, we’ve been going to regular church. I guess that’s one way to get people in the pews- give their kids a part in the play so they have to come back next week!
I do feel that I’ve had the most restful Advent season in ages, probably ever. I’ve been able to pause and enjoy the beauty of the island, especially the magnificent winter sunsets.
The sandbar is far removed from the hustle and bustle of city life. Most of the tourists have gone home and it’s QUIET. You would have to come here and stand on my porch to see what I mean. When the wind isn’t blowing its fool head off, it’s still. Like a silent night.
Christmas Eve brought a gale of wind that was so strong we decided to skip church and stay home. The top floor of my house was swaying a little in the 60 mph gusts. It just wasn’t a nice night to be out and about. We had a tornado warning and we spent part of the night in the stairwell listening to weather alerts. That’s one of the down sides of living here. The weather can be AWFUL. Once the tornadoes blew past, we watched a movie and had a quiet night together.
Christmas Day brought a flurry of activity- opening presents at my house with my parents, then cooking, then going south to my parents’ house for the Christmas Feast, as my son calls it. It was a feast indeed! Ham, steamed shrimp, stuffing, collard greens, rolls, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole and more! I ate too much as is the custom for this time of year.
One tradition I’m embracing this year is the Christian idea of Christmas lasting until Epiphany, January 6th this year. Epiphany celebrates the visit of the Wise Men to Jesus and marks the end of the Christmas season. There are a couple things I wanted to do this year but ran out of time, and I’m enjoying the feeling of Christmas lasting a little longer and letting me get in those last few things before we move into the next season.
I hope you enjoyed your Christmas traditions wherever you call home!