This Season

I wish I could carry this “New baby Christmas” with me every year.  I completely let myself off the hook.  I haven’t tried to make Christmas perfect, because I know I can’t.  I have a baby in my arms.  There was no way to get all those things that make a “Perfect Christmas” done, and I realize that “those things” are figments of my imagination anyway.  I allowed myself no expectations.

My friend Regina shared these words:  “Is everything done? Probably not. Is everything wrapped? Nope. Were Christmas cards mailed? Negative. But isn’t that just like the birth of a Child? No matter how much you want to “be ready” you never really are. That child is going to come. . .and when he does, you always manage to have what you need. So, let the child come. We have what we need.”

We began to treat Advent as a period of waiting and preparing sometime after converting to Catholicism.  And only in the last few years did I learn from a friend that some people wait to put up the Christmas tree until Christmas Eve.  We’ve learned not to actually wait until Christmas Eve to buy the tree, but we buy it a day or two in advance and leave it outside.  On Christmas Eve we bring it inside after Jonny builds a wooden tree stand, realizing that once again we have forgotten to replace the old broken store bought stand.  Jonny and I don’t really help decorate anymore.  We have kids old enough to handle everything, and they love doing it.  I think my favorite thing about our Christmas celebration is that it doesn’t end with Christmas Day.  We have embraced the fact that Christmas is a season and we are still celebrating in our small way.  I haven’t made “Christmas cookies” yet, and Christmas for the animals hasn’t happened in it’s entirety yet because it rained all day on the 23rd, the day we usually celebrate it.  There’s still time.  Christmas isn’t over yet.  I think that helps me to avoid the “let down” that many experience after Christmas Day.  There won’t be another Christmas Day until next year, but we can continue to carry Christmas with us in the coming days, and by the time Epiphany arrives (January 6th) it might be a little bit easier to pack away the decorations and embrace the new year.

I do think that we enjoyed our Christmas day more than usual this year.  Part of that was keeping things simple.  Our plans were small.  We needed to go to Christmas Mass, and we planned to share the making and eating of a Christmas dinner with a friend.  It’s usually just our family celebrating together at Christmas because we don’t have nearby relatives, so having a friend join us was really special.  He’s well loved by our children, so they were thrilled to have him.  He brined our turkey in advance and then he and Jonny grilled it over charcoal.  It was amazing as far as turkey goes.

Things will feel a little chaotic to me over the next week or so (in our house that has been decorated by children).  I will try to keep the tree up until Epiphany.  I will try not to let the apparent disorder get under my skin, but embrace it as the joyful celebration it is meant to be.


  1. Ginny,
    Do you know the children’s book, Christmas in Noisy Village? It’s by Astrid Lingren (of Pippy Longstocking), a small, short lovely picture book, and it captures this wonderful, wonderful, handspun, go-slow, day-before-Christmas, but still chaotic as filled with small noisy children 🙂 spirit. I think you would love it. I fall short of the ideal wildly every year. But I keep it in mind, ever and always.
    BTW, we ordered It Could Always Be Worse, and have read (and laughed over it) already, countless times. Thank you.
    A very merry Christmas season to you and your beautiful family.

  2. Hi Ginny – I always keep our decorations up until Epiphany and, as you say, by then I am ready to move on with the fresh year. I think its a shame that people only celebrate on Christmas Day itself as the celebration is a season and its nice to let it gently move towards the 6th. I hope you all enjoy the rest of the season. I am trying to balance packing up our house ready to move in the New Year vs enjoying Christmas and not letting Little Son feel its all about the move. xxx

  3. i love having the holiday stretch out in front of us. it shouldn’t be just one day. sadly we had to take the tree down because it started turning brown! we have never had that happen before, it was sad.

  4. We let some things go this year too and didn’t even have a new baby. It was just too short between Thanksgiving and Christmas to feel stressed the whole season.

  5. Merry Christmas and a happy new year to you and your family!

  6. Liturgically, the Christmas/Epiphany season officially ends on the feast of the Purification on Feburary 2nd. We put our tree up as close to Christmas Eve as possible. As long as we can keep it from being a fire hazard, we keep it up till Feb. 2. I have one child born Feburary 4th and I remember being in labor late at night and taking down decorations before heading to the hospital. So…take your time and enjoy the full season!!
    p.s. Do you let the Wise Men travel around the house until they find their way to the Nativity set on the Epiphany?

  7. I love this! I tried so hard to make things “nice” and “perfect” with new customs (Advent and Jesse Tree readings) and old.. But like life, it didn’t go well. After the millionth time of the baby crawling under the tree and nearly knocking it over, with the ornaments not on the tree but everywhere.. For the first time, the tree was, indeed, taken down just a day after CHRISTmas. Life moves forward though, lessons are learned and we learn to love that little baby in the manger even more than ever!

  8. It is always enough… Christmas Day is lovely no matter what goes undone. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  9. Celebrating Christmas during the actual Christmas season rather than the retail holiday season does indeed make it all perfect.

  10. Like you we had lowered expectations this Christmas and we discovered how much more fun we had! No cards, no parties, no cookies during Advent but we have decided to make the most of the 12 Days of Christmas instead when we now have free time and fewer obligations. I think this may be our new tradition. 🙂

  11. We do the same … the tree goes up on Christmas Eve, the only decorations prior to that being evergreens and candles, and then the tree and everything else stay up until Twelfth night/January 6th. In our case the reason is long standing tradition rather than anything faith related … but it just feels right to do it that way, and as you say, there is no immediate let down after Christmas when Christmas tide is properly celebrated after the anticipation of Advent.

    Here’s hoping all the twelve days are special ones for you and yours x

  12. A breath of fresh air! I grew up in a non-denominational church and had never really celebrated Advent until this year. We read a daily devotional and, oh how sweet to be reminded what is important this season. Your family’s Christmas season sounds exactly as it should be…I’m learning. And yay for Little Hooded Coats for Rabbits! Aren’t they the cutest ever?! 🙂

  13. Ginny your Christmas sounded perfect,considering you just had a new angel.You should give yourself more of a break,more often.You do so much all the time,I bet your house looks beautiful,childrens decorations are heavenly!!!!!

  14. Merry Christmas. 🙂

    (And I know a basket of Tosh when I see one … I’m jealous! 🙂 )

    • I was going to ask who’s yarn was in the basket. A basket like that could easilt find itself a home next to my knitting chair!

  15. I love how the Church helps us celebrate the seasons, too! Things get so hectic during Advent trying to prepare

    for Christmas day, that I’m thankful for the twelve days of Christmas to really slow down, enjoy the break from

    homeschooling, and celebrate the Christ-child. Merry Christmas!

  16. I can last until January 1st then I pack away christmas, in my defense the house has been decorated since thanksgiving 🙂

  17. I know your family had a great time because you are a great family. You have fun together. I never got my little tree put up, I only mailed a few cards at the very last minute, never made cookies or cake. I was so very tired this year. I am determined to do better next year. I have already bought beautiful ribbons on clearance even some for birthday wrappings! I think I will take all of the Christmas cards I have as I collected those after last Christmas on clearance and put them in a special box and buy stamps a little at the time and put those in the box and all will be ready for next year. Enjoy the rest of the season and keep it with you always. Hugs.

  18. Can you share sources for the yarn in the basket? It looks like several different labels. I am most curious about the blue/green one second up from the bottom? Thanks!

    • Hi Melissa! The blue green is tosh sock in the lowland colorway. It was meant to become a newborn sweater for Job, but I ran out of time! I ordered it from Webs.

      • Ah, I should have known! Adding that colorway to the ever growing wish list. Thanks!

        p.s. We never drool over cheap yarn do we? Good taste I tell ya!

        • p.s.s. I live 40 minutes from Webs. It is *the* most wonderful yarn store I’ve ever been to. Hubby doesn’t mind bringing me now and then and waiting while I browse and get confused, and pick stuff up and put it back, you know… He’s awesome ;o)

  19. We’ve been setting up our tree on Christmas Eve for many years (buying it at least a week ahead and leaving it outside, perched jauntily in a bucket of water). We bring it in the house and set it up sometime during the day before Christmas and in the evening my husband leads us in the “Blessing of the Christmas Tree” with holy water (very beautiful prayers which I think you can find online; ours is from an old Catholic customs book). When our kids were young my husband and I used to decorate it when everyone was asleep and the look of wonder on their faces in the morning was priceless. Now that we have older kids, they do all the decorating Christmas Eve after the two youngest are in bed. My husband and I still fill the stockings after everyone is in bed.

    Meryl, I used to wait to clean up until afterwards, but after some gifts (like Playmobils or Legos) got tossed in the trash with the wrapping paper I learned my lesson. We start the gift opening with a big trash bag by my side and I ask everyone to pass me the torn paper after the gift is open. It’s not so much about keeping things neat as keeping tears away.

  20. Merry Christmas!

  21. Love your thoughts. Our church has regular Wednesday evening meetings – and Christmas night was no exception! It was lovely hearing readings from the Bible and such during our service – based on the idea of “spiritual gifts” – and aren’t these celebrated and revealed year-round?! The Christ is with us in our hearts every day of the year and for this I am most grateful.
    Thanks for your blog and your posts. I know 2014 will be a wonderful year for your darling family.

  22. This is the first year both Christmas and Advent have felt right – I think that was in part due to getting this week off and having no reason to be constantly doing things all month. I had four days before Christmas to devote to wrapping, cooking, etc. and it was such a big help.

  23. I almost had to sit on my hands to do it, but I left the rubble of wrapping paper and boxes on the floor for the whole of Christmas morning, only cleaning it up after my little guy had stopped to take a nap. We silly mamas like things clean, but some of my best memories of Christmas morning are the joy of those very piles and the fact that my normally tidy mom was letting loose right along with us.

  24. And that is what Christmas is all about 🙂

    Wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas time

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