We aren’t religious in this house but we do celebrate Christmas. To my family it is a time of love, warmth and giving. In celebration of the winter solstice we welcome the end of the long nights and the beginning of another year. This solstice was pretty busy. We had family, friends and lovely food. It was a great day.
It took Graham and I a few years to work out what we wanted Christmas to mean to our family, and how we would celebrate it. Using Santa Claus as a tool for discipline just doesn’t sit well with me. Right now it seems every shop you go into, every parent you pass, all you hear is “If you keeping doing that Santa wont give you any presents” or “Have you been good for Santa?” Yuck! Beth was getting a bit confused with the whole thing. To start off she is frightened that a stranger comes into the house while you sleep, and then she thought on Christmas day she would be turning five because of the gift opening. Sigh! So Graham and I talked about how we’d make our own Christmas magic. Since we don’t follow a Christian faith The Nativity story isn’t part of our celebrations. Instead, to us Christmas is a time for love. You give gifts to show your love, you spend time wrapped in the warmth of that love, and spread that love to those you care for. So our children will receive gifts but will gave gifts to show their love too. It’s a work in progress so it might be tweaked a bit as they get older.
To begin with we looked at rituals from other beliefs and cultures and kind of made them our own. The Druids believed mistletoe brought good luck and fertility, and children in Scandinavia hang it above their doors to welcome fairies in from the cold. So when Beth wondered how Santa was going to come into our house since we don’t have a chimney, I found a house for them to live in on our Christmas tree. During the summer some fairies camped in our garden but now they’ve found their way into our home thanks to the mistletoe above the door. Kindly the fairies are going to let Santa in on Christmas eve. Phew!
And Santa? Well he is a jolly spirit that gives a gift to all boys and girls to remind them they are loved. When Beth has asked why some parents talk about being on the good list I simply told her they’re only saying that to get the kid to behave. A double bluff!
The pagans and Old Norse brought evergreen into their homes as a reminder that Mother Nature is only sleeping. Although, they would never have cut down a tree because that would be too destructive. Instead they would bring in branch clippings. So we adapted it and have a potted tree. Today at the play group Christmas party I asked the florists, who use the space to make up their Christmas flowers, if I could take some of their oasis foam so we could make a table decoration on Christmas eve, but kindly they gave me a huge bag of thistles, holly, fir branches, pine cones and dried oranges, so tomorrow we are going to be starting another new Christmas ritual. We are going to make our table piece for the celebrations ahead. We’ll also be doing the Julkarve tradition.
And one day? One day we’ll have that yule log burning in our fireplace.