Tuesday, December 20, 2011

And So They Begin...

Our family traditions, that is!!

Christmas is nearing. This year is different from any other Christmas. Not only am I a Mama now, but with being a Mama comes him who will eventually call me Mama, my little Bigfoot.

Because of our little sweetness, there’s a new whimsical feel to this year’s Advent. There’s a feeling of anticipation and wanting to do more to make everything special for our little guy - special and meaningful. Wanting to make the reality of Advent as present as possible in our home, from the Christmas decor to the celebrations of all the special Feast days that surround this time.

We started with St. Nicholas’s Feast day. Below is the wonderful story of today’s Santa.

Nicholas’ parents died when he was just a teenager. His parents left him a lot of money which made him a rich young man. He went to live with his uncle who was a priest.

Nicholas heard about a man who had lost all his money. He had three daughters who were old enough to get married. But in those days young women had to have money in order to get married. This money was a “dowry” and it was used to help the new family get started. If you didn’t have dowry money, you didn’t get married.

This family was so poor they had nothing left to eat. The daughters were going to be sold as slaves because they couldn’t live at home any longer. They were very sad. They wouldn’t be able to have families of their own. And they would have to be slaves—no longer able to decide where they would live or what they would do.

The night before the oldest daughter was to be sold, she washed her stockings and put them in front of the fire to dry. Then all of them went to sleep—the father and the three daughters.

In the morning the daughter saw a lump in her stocking. Reaching in, she found a small, heavy bag. It had gold inside! Enough to provide food for the family and money for her dowry. Oh, how happy they were!

The next morning, another bag with gold was found. Imagine! Two of the daughters would now be saved. Such joy!

And the next night, the father planned to stay awake to find out who was helping his daughters. He dozed off, but heard a small “clink” as another bag landed in the room. Quickly he jumped up and ran out the door. Who did he catch ducking around the corner?

Nicholas, the young man who lived with his uncle. “Nicholas, it is you! Thank you for helping us—I hardly know what to say!” Nicholas said, “Please, do not thank me—thank God that your prayers have been answered. Do not tell others about me.”

Nicholas continued helping people. He always tried to help secretly. He didn’t want any attention or thanks. Years passed and he was chosen to be a bishop. Bishopslook after their people as shepherds look after their sheep. And that is what Nicholas did. When there wasn’t any food, he found wheat; so no one went hungry. He always helped people in trouble. All his life Nicholas showed people how to love God and care for each other.

Everyone loved Nicholas. After he died, they told stories of the good and kind things Nicholas had done. Sailors took these stories about Nicholas everywhere they went. Some of the stories were about his special care for children—helping and protecting them when danger threatened. And so more and more people learned about good, kind Nicholas. They wanted to be like him. He is an example of how we should live. And that is why he became a saint.

This is the story of the real Santa Claus, St. Nicholas. To this day people say that St. Nicholas, or Santa, is the special friend of children.

—Carol Myers

St. Nicholas shared his wealth with all around him, and we hope by celebrating his life, that our little guy will learn that it is in giving that we receive.

Also, in that we had yet to buy our stockings that would be filled with gold chocolate coins (representing the money St. Nicholas shared) and candy canes (Bishop’s crook), I searched online to find a way to make some of our own (something Amanda friendly). GeekMan thought that they’d be a smidge more special if I made them and after some thought, I agreed. Through my search on Pinterest I found this lovely blog post and got excited! They were easy enough to make and they could be personalized.

Not anything too creative since that doesn’t seem to be my forte at this point in life. haha. Although, at one time, I did think of myself as one to have somewhat of a creative ability. Maybe I just need to spend some more time nourishing that part of me?

Tadaaa! I have to say, after dabbling in some DIY projects during the holidays, I am definitely feeling an itch to create more, which is exciting. So, behold, the stockings we now have to fill with gold coins, candy canes, and whatever else our little hearts desire! So, thank you, Laura, for sharing your amazing creative talents and encouraging the little creative spark in me.

Now on to other Holiday treats and family traditions.

We celebrated Mass on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. And I made cookies on the Feast of St. Lucy (since I didn’t have any yeast to make cinnamon rolls or another sweet bread).

We have our Christmas tree! This year we decided to go with an Advent theme to encourage our Advent journey. A pretty pink and purple it is, along with sparkling white lights, some St. Nick ornaments, our little Nativity under our tree is ready with sweet Child Jesus awaiting His place in the manger, and an ornament that represents GeekMan and I, and one for our sweet Bigfoot. The tree will continue to morph, I’m sure, over the years, but for now, this is our dear Christmas tree.

Sweet Child Jesus awaiting His birthday.

Our nativity under the tree awaiting the most precious gift of all to be placed there Christmas day.

Another little DIY I found on Pinterest is this little idea from this site. It’s basically a little kid-friendly tree for our Bigfoot to decorate, once he’s old enough. I went ahead and made the tree this year and will add other decor in the year to come (i.e. more colored ornaments, , garland, and presents). I’m thinking a Jesse Advent Tree, but for now we have some Marian blue going on. It’s a work in progress, but I’m excited for when Bigfoot will be at the age where he’ll be interested.

And, of course, we have our Advent wreath.

I suppose that’s all for now. We have a few other little things here and there and other thoughts and to-do’s we’d like to implement during this beautiful season (i.e. 12 days of Christmas, the journey of the Three Kings and the Epiphany), but I will save that either for another post or another year when we are actually implementing.

I tell you what, our little one has really kicked us into gear in regards to starting our family traditions and joyful celebrations throughout the season, and we are both so thankful for that.
What sort of traditions are going on in your home? Would love to hear them!

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