Almost exactly to the day, 1 year ago, was my last post... wow. Well, if I haven't lost all of my many readers, here I ago again about Christmas. As I've said before, Advent is really my favorite time of year. I love the joyous wringing out of every last ounce of sunlight and warmth and life that we can before the dying and hibernating and darkness of winter is upon us. I love the anticipation of the Christmas season and the joy of Emmanuel, God with us. We all know that the celebration of Advent is almost gone in most of our lives and I would venture to say its because of, at least in large part, the ever encroaching shopping season, as early now as October! Many friends and family of mine are decorating for Christmas before thanksgiving - and that's ok! - but I would offer that it may inhibit us from truly appreciating advent and Christmas separately... And I would also guess that it inundates us, especially the children among us, with so much Christmas that we end up foundering on it. I know that often by Christmas day I am so sick of the music and sights and smells of the season and I can't wait to tear my dying tree down.

Having Simon has given me a new sense of wonder for this time of year. I want him to feel the awe of the natural world slowly folding in on itself to sleep the winter off, and the awe of the candles and the evergreens, of the carols at church, of the bursts of bright red berries and the smell of cinnamon. I want him to be excited about baby Jesus and the bright guiding star, about cookies and St. Nicholas... And yes, I want him to be excited about giving small gifts to each other to remind us what gift was given to us 2000 years ago. So this year, while he is still small, we have begun traditions that hopefully will continue on. We are celebrating Advent. We are singing songs of expectation, lighting candles, reading books about the birth of Jesus and about winter, filling the house with evergreens and preparing for Christmas. We are not celebrating Christmas yet. We have decided to wait until Christmas eve to fully decorate the house and put up the tree... This one is hard for me, but I think it will be worth the wait. It is the traditional Catholic practice to observe 40 days of Christmas starting on Christmas Eve so at our church Christmas songs are just beginning then and the massive tree stays up till the end of January. on December 6th we celebrated St. Nicholas day by filling simon's shoes with treats. He was so excited to come downstairs that next morning to find his shoes... Mostly excited about the ginger cookie inside one of them but I'll take what I can get. On Christmas Eve I will be attempting to make tamales (what am I thinking?)  which is the traditional Mexican way to celebrate and making chilaquiles for that morning. I can't wait to see Simon's face as he comes downstairs Christmas morning to see a lit tree, candles glowing, shiny packages and baby Jesus in the manger! We will start with breakfast and the Christmas story and then we will open gifts and, most importantly, the stockings together. I'm hoping that the pile of gifts is a small one but I LOVE stockings and will never give them up, so there.

Anyways, that is our plan. We are going on instinct and new knowledge, certainly not habit. This is all new to us but we are hoping Simon grows up with a deep appreciation and joy for these Advent and Christmas seasons.

Chris and I last year at Philly's Christmas Village
I'd love to hear how you resist the explosion of Christmas in October (or how you don't and why) and find special ways to draw out the celebration - please share!