Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Christmas Season, A Time For Traditions

Is it me or does it seem to you as if time runs faster during the Christmas season (that is from Dec 1 to Dec 24)? My guess is that children think the opposite; time does not go fast enough as they excitedly wait for Christmas day to open presents.

Christmas tree decorated in white lights

There are so many things that have to get done, such as: house decorating, Christmas shopping, food preparations, school events, family visitors, family parties, work parties and the list seems to be endless. When you become an empty-nester you would think life would be easier, and it is to some degree, but you start to miss parts of that crazy life.

Outdoor Christmas light decorations

Christmas decorations go up and shortly thereafter they must be taken down, signifying the holiday season is over. I must confess I start decorating for Christmas on Halloween day; yes, it is crazy, but that is also how I manage to get it all done and enjoy it.

But what is Christmas?

The Christmas season is a great excuse to decorate the house differently with bright colors, mostly red and gold. I have garlands and bows decorating window sills, door trims, wreaths and Christmas trees. I love how they make the house feel festive and offer a happy glow.

Windows decorated with Christmas garlands and red bows

Door trims decorated with Christmas garlands in gold

I decorate two artificial Christmas trees. Decorating them is an event because this is the first time I put on Christmas music, drink some wine and slowly attach the branches to the tree, then adding the lights and finally the decorations.

Christmas tree decorated in multi-color lights

I also set up a Pesebre, a Nativity scene. This activity definitely brings back happy memories of my childhood. A pesebre is basically a recreation of the little town of Bethlehem where baby Jesus was born and where the three Magi find Him. So yes, you must include the three Magi, and throughout the month you must move them along closer to the stable where baby Jesus lies. The set up can be simple or elaborate; from my childhood I recall houses in the neighborhood with enormous Pesebre setups, some taking just about an entire room. They were beautiful. In the last few years, I have relinquished this task to my grown children when they come home during the holidays. Our pesebre has some pieces from my childhood that while they are showing their age, are precious to me.

Nativity scene - Pesebre decorated

Listening to Christmas carols is something my husband and I enjoy very much and cannot wait to hear. Our Christmas playlist has over 650 songs, and now that we have signed up with Google music it is basically endless. I also like to listen to Villancicos, which are Spanish carols, another pleasant memory for me. My children have even learned to sing them in Spanish.

The Christmas season is also a time when I look forward to cooking specialty foods from my native country, Colombia. It is the time when I cook Empanadas, Bunuelos, Natilla and Pandequesos all of which my kids have grown to enjoy and look forward to eating each holiday. So while I am cooking, I sip on wine or glogg, listening to my Colombian music and dancing along the way. Let the Party begin!!

A plate with holiday latin foods - empanadas, bunuelos, pandequesos

December 24 is a very special day for the Colombian family, as it is Christmas day. It is the day when relatives and friends come over to celebrate and enjoy food, drinks and dance the night away. I remember many big gatherings at my house or a friend's house or neighbor's house where the party would go into the wee hours. Good music for dancing is important at these parties because everybody loves to dance. You can find the parents and children sharing the same floor space while dancing. Later on, I recall spending the night playing with all the children that were at the party. For Spanish families, baby Jesus is the one bringing the presents. The best part is that baby Jesus does not require you go to sleep by midnight to receive presents; therefore getting home in the wee hours is just fine, because the presents show up after you wake up at home. They are not placed by the Christmas tree, but are set by the side of your bed or underneath it.

Dinner table setup for Christmas dinner

So what is Christmas all about?

It is about practicing old traditions and building new ones unique to your family. It is about leaving a legacy of memories to your children and building memories for yourself and friends. It is about creating warmth, it is about eating comfort foods, it is about listening to traditional carols. Christmas is about being with your family. Christmas is about giving thanks for the present while holding in your heart hope for a wonderful future for those you love.

Wall Christmas decoration with an Angel

On this joyful time, may the season bring you joy and knowledge that life is good. May the New Year bring you Peace of Mind, Health and Love.

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