Holiday Season Reflections
Reflections on the Season of Advent - Ben
[I shared this realization with someone I’m very close with just last week and now share it with all of you]
I’ve been thinking about the season of advent recently. It’s a season of “preparation.” In church we also refer to it as “expectant waiting.” But what does “preparation” really mean to all of us? It certainly has a connotation of being busy, working to get things done; shopping, decorating, coordinating schedules, and allocating precious time, often to rush things along leading up to that special day. Even listing those things makes me anxious! More than any year I can remember, I feel committed to the true meaning of advent: spiritual preparation. That’s going to involve more quiet reflection and less hustle and bustle. More giving, less purchasing. More gratitude and less attitude! That’s all far from the material or earthly preparation I usually go through for Christmas.
It’s been a very busy year for me, full of obligations and at many times, stress. So, I look forward to the opportunity to pause, truly slow down NOT speed up, and reflect on the blessings I already have in my life. Because if it’s true that each year of life seems to go by faster than the prior, then it’s all the more important to live in the moment this year, enjoying the spirit of the season and the gift that is Christmas. I’m not very good at sitting still, but I plan to commit to more Christmas movies (The Muppets Christmas Carole is our favorite), less running around, and extra time out of the office squeezing the wife and kids at home. That’s the greatest gift of all.
Christmas Reflections - Holly
Christmas is my favorite holiday as I love all the houses decorated with beautiful lights, the cozy feeling having the Christmas tree lit up while hanging ornaments on its branches, and of course the smell of cookies baking. I think having my birthday close to Christmas also makes me a little biased to liking that holiday best too. Two of my favorite traditions is picking out a tree every year and baking at least 10 different types of cookies, with my top two favorite cookies being kiffles and meringues, known in my house as “melt aways.” Our tree gets decorated with tons of ornaments (some much older than me), warm white lights, and cardinal lights that were given to my dad from his mom. They are always the perfect addition to the tree, and they remind me of my grandma which brings a smile to my face. I don’t have a particular favorite memory, I just love being together and enjoying the day with loved ones. This year I’m excited to feel the “magic of Christmas” as I get to see my niece and my boyfriend’s nephews get excited for Santa and the presents, he brings!
Christmas Reflections - Devon
Time seems to be flying by faster each year. Last year leading up to Christmas, we would read Christmas stories together before bedtime. This year my daughter can practically read them to me! She loves the Disney 5-minute bedtime stories. Each story is a different Disney character or movie. Her favorite is Alice in Wonderland – A Present for the Queen. She thinks it’s hilarious that the Mad Hatter and the March Hare sing Christmas Harolds instead of Christmas Carols (because what does Carol have to do with it?) and “deck the halls with bowls of jelly! Foo loo loo loo loo, loo loo loo loo!” I’ve found myself singing the song during the day with the wrong words! She’s also really into joke telling now and tries to come up with her own jokes. I’ll share one of our favorites with you that we didn’t create: What do elves learn in school? The elf-a-bet. We’ve also made advent calendars a tradition too. When they get home from school, we talk about what day it is, they have to find the number, and then they get a small toy. We are officially counting down the days until Christmas morning. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season!
Christmas Reflections - Adam
As Devon noted, it definitely feels like time is flying by faster and faster each year as my kids get older and older. Since COVID, Amy has really leaned into the holiday decorations. This year we are up to 7 artificial trees throughout the house (we started the tradition years’ ago for each child to have their own 5-foot tree dedicated to them and their presents) and 4 more on the porch – all lit up and most fully decorated. We love driving around the neighborhoods around us to enjoy everyone’s lights and decorations and we even change our bistro lights in the backyard to green and red as soon as Thanksgiving is over.
I look forward to a few days of relaxation from Christmas to New Year’s, slowing down and spending time at home with Amy and the kids. The excitement of Christmas morning for me is lighting a fire in the fireplace and drinking coffee while the girls open their presents. For many years we did the traditional Christmas meal until at some point, we decided to try something different and it has stuck ever since! Now we all look forward to our very special Chinese food Christmas dinner tradition. Our eyes are always bigger than our stomachs, but something just hits different when you are at home in your pajamas eating WAY too much food on Christmas day with your family. I highly recommend it!
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