Tag Archives: christmas tradition

Music to my Ears

It projects across the room, flat and forced, more like yelling than singing.

It’s a step, or two, behind the rest. A discordant echo chasing lyrics that roll off nimbler tongues with ease.

It’s one of the most beautiful sounds in my world.

We’ve had two Christmas shows already this year. At one, she sat front and centre, arms flailing in an approximation of the actions her classmates were performing. At the other, deciding she didn’t like her spot on stage she pulled up a chair and sat behind the rest of the choir.show

There have been years when the traditions of seasonal performance have stung. When she refused to sit with her class or jingle her bells. When she decided scratching her bum onstage was more urgent than saying the words we had practiced so many, many times. When she pulled her dress up over her head for the duration. And while my mouth laughed with everyone else, my heart ached to see her set apart yet again.

But this year… this year her voice rang out above all the rest. Like it has for the last two Christmases, like it does each week at church, and in the car, and lying in bed at night.

She found her voice. She unleashed her inner diva. She fell in love with the spotlight.

Now, the holiday concert is joy. Vibrating with excitement, waving madly, calling out enthusiastically to familiar faces in the crowd, body and soul pouring out in a musical offering, bowing with a flourish at the end, two thumbs up and a toothy grin in my direction. “Good job!” she says to everyone.

No talent scout has darkened our door. No voice coach has approached us with accolades. Her imperfect efforts in these little shows don’t mean much in the grand scheme of things.

In fact, the Christmas show is standard fare for most kids, most schools, most families. Everyone does it. No big deal.

But these molehills are mountains to us. We don’t take any of it for granted. Which makes it even more magical.

At the church pageant our daughter’s friend, from Special Olympics, lisped a single line into the microphone. Heavily prompted. Two words at a time. I had to choke back tears as the crowd clapped and cheered.

Next week, we have another Christmas concert. I can’t wait. Because that toneless, tuneless, guileless song is music to my ears.

So here’s us, where performance is judged purely on enthusiasm and effort. And the ability to keep one’s clothes on in public.


Friday Favourites Reblog: Christmas at Our House

I have mentioned recently that we’ve decided to Downsize Christmas this year (insert gasp of shock and horror). I haven’t always felt this way. So here’s a blast from the past (last year at this time) with an old Friday Favourites:

So, the main problem a lot of people have with Christmas is that it starts WAY too early and consumes everything in its wake. Capitalist profiteers grab onto it like its the last cigarette at an AA meeting. It is in your face everywhere you turn: the decorations, the events, the sales, the music… everywhere you go, that same cheesy music echoes in your ears.

Well, I totally drank the koolaid this year. So brace yourself for an all festive favourites post today. Sorry cynics, you’ll have to look elsewhere for your holiday rant. But be sure to check back in the new year, I have very ambivilant feelings about Valentine’s Day.

Favourite Christmas Quote: “Teach us to give and not to count the cost.” — St. Ignatius of Loyola. Coincidentally, this is my husband’s LEAST favourite Christmas quote. But I’m pretty sure the saint was talking about a generosity that goes beyond fuzzy socks and santa claus pez dispensers.

Favourite Christmas Book: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. Not the most politically correct book of all time, but it has a heart of pure gold. Plus, I remember my mom reading it to me, so extra points for nostalgia. It starts with “The Herdmans were absolutely the worst kids in the history of the world.”

Favourite Christmas Movie: definitely It’s a Wonderful Life! I MUST watch this at least once every year, preferably on Christmas Eve. If you don’t like this movie, you have no heart. You are cold and cynical. And you may be married to me.

Favourite Christmas Tradition: We shamelessly stole this idea from our friends Mark and Lanette (you know what they say about sincerity and flattery and all that good stuff). One night in December we invite another family to join us for Grinch Night (a different family every year; be nice, and next year we might invite you!). Everyone dresses in green; this may or may not include green streaks in your hair and green face paint. We eat all green food and watch “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” and “Shrek the Halls”. Green caramel popcorn is the best – looks snotty, tastes delicious!

Favourite Gift Giving Ritual: Like most concerned (read: neurotic and guilt ridden) parents in the modern age, we are always looking for ways to teach our kids the real “reason for the season”. Ya, I said it. I just threw up in my mouth a little bit, it’s so cheesy, but truly, I want more for them than just mindless consumption. We found the idea of Three Wise Gifts in a parenting magazine years ago and it brings a little more meaning to Christmas morning. Before opening gifts we read about the Kings who came to worship Jesus (an undetermined number of magi who came years after Jesus was born with 3 gifts). Each year we buy our children gifts in these three categories – frankincense: for worship (usually a cd or meaningful book); myhrr: for the body (clothes or good smelling stuff); and gold: something precious (this is the “big” item and is often shared by all three). Not only does it keep the gifts reasonable, but each one represents a different side of Jesus – God, Saviour and King.

Favourite Christmas Character: Mary, the mother of God. A scared, confused teenager facing an unplanned pregnancy and the censure of her whole community. Birth-days are not cupcakes and party favours. On the actual day of birth there is pain, exhaustion, blood, sweat and tears. It is a messy, overwhelming, and completely amazing experience for every mother. Throw in a few miracles, angelic visitors, political upheavel, uninvited guests… it’s hardly the serene image we see on Christmas cards. But even more powerful, because that’s kind of God’s thing – showing up in the middle of chaos and upheaval.

A great place to find thought provoking and beautifully written articles called Deeper Story had a great post about Mary, definitely worth a read: Incarnation.

So here’s me, celebrating Christmas in the middle of chaos.


So Here's Us.... life on the raggedy edge.:

How responsible of me – I’m recycling last year’s Christmas-y posts. This year I am looking forward to the staff party slightly more, since I know/like/have lots in common with the people at his new job. BUT the small talk thing continues to be a challenge.

Originally posted on So Here's Us...:

‘Tis the season for close-quarters shopping, holiday recitals and office Christmas parties. Extroverts soak it all up – the energy, the excitement and the near constant socializing. For the rest of us, who shall hereafter be referred to as “normal,” the constant pressure to make nice with strangers is exhausting and overwhelming.

I’ve been struggling to find the appropriate analogy to describe my feelings as I anticipate my husband’s staff dinner. Sticking hot pokers in my eye? Getting a pap smear? Painful dental procedure? All three at the same time…

I hate small talk.

I’d like to think that this makes me a person of great depth, integrity and complexity. As if I am simply too busy/intellectual/chock full o’ spiritual insight to discuss unimportant topics with any old Joe Schmo who crosses my path. Of course, I have ample time to peruse pintrest, watch Walking Dead webisodes and google my own name.

The truth…

View original 325 more words


Friday Favourites 37: Advent

Last day of November. Blink and you’ll miss the next month entirely, it can zip by that fast.

Advent has so many great possibilities, but this year, more than ever before, I am embracing the adage: I can’t do everything. Maybe you can. Maybe Martha Stewart can (millions of dollars and a household staff would help). But me, not so much.

We’re not skipping Christmas this year, we’re just, downsizing.

Quote

Anyone who believes that men are the equal of women has never seen a man trying to wrap a Christmas present.

~ Unknown (aka Common Sense)

Advent Tradition

It’s that special time of the year. The tradition we hold most dear. That’s right: Daily Chocolate.

BUT, I’ve got a thing about mainstream chocolate (which uses child slave labour to pick cocoa: mmmm… taste the suffering). So I’m not buying the standard ones anymore.

Enter despair and depression. I know you think I’m talking about the kids, but it’s Glen who nearly wept at the thought of doing without. On the other hand, I nearly wept at the prices of the fair trade calendars. So last year (when I was feeling more Griswald than Grinch) I put together our Fair Trade Advent Calender.

Christmas Countdown: Fair Trade Style

advent

Once it’s made, it’s not much work to tweak and reuse each year. This year the kids are helping put it together, including brainstorming simple family activities for each day: things we’re already doing or can do with little to no prep/hassle. I wonder if “Clean your room” counts as festive fun. I know it’d be fun for me.

Christmas Lights

This year we are NOT putting up our Christmas lights. After watching this, we may never again. I mean, how can you follow something like this?

At first I thought this song was saying something about “Gangland Style.” Some kind of hip hop nod to the mean streets. But then they did the dance at the Wiggles concert and it didn’t seem very gangster-ish after all. What language is that? What does it mean? When did I get so old that I am bothered not understanding the lyrics of a song?

Amphibian Video

C watches this and decides that she really MUST have a pet frog for Christmas. I watch and think, “ha ha ha… ew… NO.” Sorry kid.

Meanest. Mom. Ever.

So here’s us, celebrating Advent without a pet frog or Christmas lights or a daily dose of brown wax popped out of an overpackaged “calender”… and all the better for it.


Friday Favourites: Christmas at our House

So, the main problem a lot of people have with Christmas is that it starts WAY too early and consumes everything in its wake. Capitalist profiteers grab onto it like its the last cigarette at an AA meeting. It is in your face everywhere you turn: the decorations, the events, the sales, the music… everywhere you go, that same cheesy music echoes in your ears.

Well, I totally drank the koolaid this year. So brace yourself for an all festive favourites post today. Sorry cynics, you’ll have to look elsewhere for your holiday rant. But be sure to check back in the new year, I have very ambivilant feelings about Valentine’s Day.

Favourite Christmas Quote: “Teach us to give and not to count the cost.” — St. Ignatius of Loyola. Coincidentally, this is my husband’s LEAST favourite Christmas quote. But I’m pretty sure the saint was talking about a generosity that goes beyond fuzzy socks and santa claus pez dispensers.

Favourite Christmas Book: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. Not the most politically correct book of all time, but it has a heart of pure gold. Plus, I remember my mom reading it to me, so extra points for nostalgia. It starts with “The Herdmans were absolutely the worst kids in the history of the world.”

Favourite Christmas Movie: definitely It’s a Wonderful Life! I MUST watch this at least once every year, preferably on Christmas Eve. If you don’t like this movie, you have no heart. You are cold and cynical. And you may be married to me.

Favourite Christmas Tradition: We shamelessly stole this idea from our friends Mark and Lanette (you know what they say about sincerity and flattery and all that good stuff). One night in December we invite another family to join us for Grinch Night (a different family every year; be nice, and next year we might invite you!). Everyone dresses in green; this may or may not include green streaks in your hair and green face paint. We eat all green food and watch “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” and “Shrek the Halls”. Green caramel popcorn is the best – looks snotty, tastes delicious!

Favourite Gift Giving Ritual: Like most concerned (read: neurotic and guilt ridden) parents in the modern age, we are always looking for ways to teach our kids the real “reason for the season”. Ya, I said it. I just threw up in my mouth a little bit, it’s so cheesy, but truly, I want more for them than just mindless consumption. We found the idea of Three Wise Gifts in a parenting magazine years ago and it brings a little more meaning to Christmas morning. Before opening gifts we read about the Kings who came to worship Jesus (an undetermined number of magi who came years after Jesus was born with 3 gifts). Each year we buy our children gifts in these three categories – frankincense: for worship (usually a cd or meaningful book); myhrr: for the body (clothes or good smelling stuff); and gold: something precious (this is the “big” item and is often shared by all three). Not only does it keep the gifts reasonable, but each one represents a different side of Jesus – God, Saviour and King.

Favourite Christmas Character: Mary, the mother of God. A scared, confused teenager facing an unplanned pregnancy and the censure of her whole community. Birth-days are not cupcakes and party favours. On the actual day of birth there is pain, exhaustion, blood, sweat and tears. It is a messy, overwhelming, and completely amazing experience for every mother. Throw in a few miracles, angelic visitors, political upheavel, uninvited guests… it’s hardly the serene image we see on Christmas cards. But even more powerful, because that’s kind of God’s thing – showing up in the middle of chaos and upheaval.

A great place to find thought provoking and beautifully written articles called Deeper Story had a great post about Mary, definitely worth a read: Incarnation.

So here’s me, celebrating Christmas in the middle of chaos.


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