Whether a RevGal or a Pal most of us in this cyber community have enhanced responsibilities during this time of year. We also have traditions - religious and secular - that mark the season for us in a more personal way.
For this Friday Five please let us know five of the things that mark the season for you.
And the bonus? Tell us one thing that does absolutely nothing for you.
1) Lighting the candles on the Advent wreath. We don't do this every night at home, but when we gather around the dinner table I like to light the candles appropriate to the week. It brings back great memories of childhood and marking down the time to both a special time in church and of course until Santa arrived. :)
This year I am once again balancing the sacred with the secular as each candle indeed marks: hope, peace, joy and love... but also marks the time until special visitors arrive from the north just a few days after Christmas.
2&3) New Traditions: Christmas movie on Thanksgiving Weekend & New Ornament. One of the books on keeping Christmas simple that I have read in the past decade included the idea of marking the beginning of the Christmas season with your children in a ritualistic way so that the stores don't claim it for them on October 15th. We have just a few years under our belt but on Thanksgiving night or the next day we watch a Christmas movie. Lately it's been Elf. Love this movie - it's funny, fairly innocent and family appropriate.
We also head out to the local store and The Boy gets to pick out an ornament. Two years ago we were in the store for over an hour as he struggled with his selection. I look forward to being able to watch his interests change over the years and eventually hand the whole batch over to him for his own Christmas tree.
4) Spiritual Renewal Day. On the Friday closest to Christmas Eve (this year the 17th) I take a day off. I know. It's crazy. And there are many reasons NOT to do it but... there are a few to make sure I do. It makes sure I have my priorities in order. On this day I make sure I spend at least some of it with The Boy. I want his memories of this time of year to be about what's important and never about how Mommy was at the church the whole time. This year I have massage on the agenda and probably some cookie making too. The church work will get done. Baking at Christmas time with my son when he is almost 6 - only happens once.
5) Longest Night Service. Some churches call it Blue Christmas. I prefer the Longest Night. It is a service specifically designed for those who are struggling with the mandatory joy that gets jammed down our throats during this season. Whether it be a death, divorce, illness, or [fill-in-the-blank] folks are invited to this service. The truth is that despite its dark undertones I love the simplicity and genuine heart of this service. The music is from the piano, the Sanctuary is dimly lit, the meditation is spoken from the floor and I usually do it from an outline. It's casual, yet sacred. For me it is a pure time of worship, even as the worship leader, and that is rare and appreciated.
And so what is the thing I could do without? Well there are definitely a couple of songs that could be banished as far as I'm concerned (Feliz Navidad and Christmas Shoes come quickly to mind). Fruitcake? Stereotypical punchline at this point.
Here's one - I could do without the constant stream of mindless treats brought into the office. Let me be clear, I don't mean the treats that folks have specifically made with us in mind. What I could do without are the re-gifts where folks don't want the food they've been gifted on their waistlines so they bring it to the church office instead. Minor complaint, but it adds up and I could do without it.
Do you want to play too? Go for it and let me know! I'd love to read about what marks the holiday for others.