For Christmas decor, I give you these lighted redwood trees in my town.
Because at my house, there is a wreath on the front door, and one on the playhouse door, and that’s it! I am so busy planning and packing for a long trip, starting with Christmas at Pearl’s in Wisconsin, that I had no room in my mind or schedule for more than that.
I’m not even baking! Soldier and his family were just here for a couple of days and I found a Sugar Plum Cake from last Christmas in the freezer, to eat for breakfast. It’s a stöllen sort of bread, the recipe for which was handed down from my Aunt Bettie; the grandchildren particularly liked the little colored bits in it.
If I were going to be home this year, I’d certainly find a new cookie recipe in this book which was gifted to me by one of the children:
But I’m not, so I’ll share a few cookies and cookie stories from the past:
Two recipes from my cookie tray
A traditional seedy one
I don’t think I love Christmas as much as my late husband did, but I enjoyed all the aspects of preparing and shopping better when he was still around. And his voice leading us in carol-singing! Oh yes.
For almost twenty years I’ve been learning about the riches of the Orthodox Church, which include an appreciation for the Incarnation on a level I never found elsewhere. It’s thrilling to focus on Christ’s Nativity this month, but the story of a baby in a manger would become boring after a few years if it were merely a historic event to think about. The soul requires more than thought, more than history, and this holy feast is an event that we can abide in the way the branch abides in the Vine. It makes possible our participating in that Life, in the ever arriving Today.
What happens in the present is connected in lovely and helpful ways to the past by what we retain and remember. Here are two more articles from the archives, on Christmasy things:
What Christmas trees teach
Reading the Nativity icon
Tradition is a word that comes up a lot during holiday seasons. Some people find great comfort in keeping customs like baking cookies and visiting Santa, but at the same time try to craft their own individual version of fundamental human personhood. I found this little Facebook posting to be thought-provoking:
Every human being born into this world starts as a traditionalist. What we have, what we begin with, is handed down to us from everyone and everything that has gone before. The rejection of that tradition is not only absurd, it is ungrateful. [Tradition is] also inescapable. We cannot become self-created. What we have is a gift. What we are is revealed as we fulfill that gift.
Be thankful. You are God’s gift to the world.
-Father Stephen Freeman
From each Christmas to the next, and every day in between,
“God is with us!”