Making Merry

At our house, the Saturday after Thanksgiving is Tree Day. We tidy up the fall decorations and set out the Christmas things. I make special snacks for dinner. We listen to Christmas music that has been packed up all year. The children decorate the tree. Mike untangles the ornament hooks and I try to enjoy the moment. This is a challenge for me. I am not naturally here in the moment. If I am still, I am thinking about something that already happened, mulling it over, savoring it hopefully, or if I am moving I am thinking about what is next on my never ending list. If you only see me on Sunday and you ask me, “How was your week?” I don’t know! That was then. I am pressing on now. That question stresses me out. How was my week? Am I missing it? This is why I take so many pictures. To help my poor stressed out brain remember my memories. 

I want my children to have a bank full of happy memories, especially around holidays. I want to make them worth remembering and savoring, even if it involves “picture torture”. So we made our own family holiday called Tree Day. Since we moved here Grandma has joined us and made the day even better, because Grandma is almost always in the moment. 

Another Tree Day tradition is a new ornament for each member of the family, which reflects some part of their lives. I wrap them all up and we open them one at a time. Hope wanted to open them all. 

The little ones set up the plastic and cloth nativity sets on the hearth, where they can play with them all month. 

For the most part, our special snacks change every year, but we always have wassail. I try not to make the foods too sweet, because an abundance of sugar makes us grouchy. This year we had a cheeseball and crackers, teriyaki wings, fruit salsa with cinnamon chips, and that cheesecake we never got around to eating at Thanksgiving. This becomes dinner, which makes it easier on me if I make it all ahead. 

Did you say, “What on earth is wassail?” It is a hot drink made of apple, pineapple, and lemon juice, cinnamon and cloves. It smells like Christmas. 

We still haven’t finished decorating. That very night, we got a call that a friend had gone to heaven. While we can appreciate that he is having the best Christmas of his life, we can’t forget that his family is having the worst, and we grieve with them. It took the merry, merry, ho-ho right out of us. I think it doesn’t really matter if we just call the decorating that happened- enough. 

We are still going to make memories, even if we don’t try, so I do want to make the effort to cultivate the happy ones. We had a movie night, and we will have many more. We have a growing collection of Christmas movies that we pack with the decorations, to enjoy only this month. Some of them are 30 minute children’s movies, like the Charlie Brown Special and The Little Drummer Boy. I will pull one of these things out when I need a quiet moment and the only way to get it is to have everyone hypnotized in front of the TV. There are a few that we enjoy as a family, such as It’s A Wonderful Life and Christmas in Connecticut. 

I really don’t think watching movies is going to make quality memories, especially if it is too frequent. It is more memorable if it is a special event. Once a week or less during ordinary times. Otherwise it becomes routine and forgettable. Doing something is much more memorable than watching something. What we needed was a trip to the Holy Land to get us back in the Christmas spirit. Thankfully, The Holy Land Experience is within driving distance. We met some old and new friends from the MOMYS yahoo group and spent the whole day thinking about Jesus and making family memories. 

Right off the bat we were stricken with a bad case of diorama. Resistance was futile. Doesn’t the wise man look shocked? He might be thinking, “Mary! Are they all yours?” Hopesie let Baby Jesus borrow her blanket, since his swaddling cloths were missing.

Sadly, we discovered that Mike does not walk on water, but he is still hanging on. David pushed apart the temple pillars, just like Sampson, then he beat Mike to the top of the rock climbing wall, twice. Apparently, being a Boy Scout does teach skills you need in real life. I’m sure weighing 90 pounds helps, too. 

You will never believe who showed up to Parable Time. History came alive as the children acted out the Good Samaritan. 

There was much more. Songs, plays, reenactments, artifacts, history. And it all had the same focus. 

A gift. A sacrifice. Purpose and life for eternity. That is something to celebrate!

© Being Fruitful, 2012