But I sense the time is near to break out the family traditions, beginning with the annual Cursing of the Tree Lights. (We really need to upgrade to one of those pre-lit trees.)
We will hang the stockings by the chimney with care — provided I can get my son’s stocking finished in time.
I have crafted needlepoint stockings for each of the kids. It took me two years to get my daughter’s finished. It’s going on eight years for my son’s.
I will attempt to take the annual Christmas photo of the kids. It’s getting harder to get them to cooperate. Last year, when I told them to “look up and smile!,” they both looked straight up at the ceiling and grinned at each other.
The photo will be included in the annual Christmas newsletter. People seem to actually like our newsletter. This year, I don’t know whether to send it out by snail-mail, or just post it on Facebook.
Every year, I haul out a treasured collection of the children’s Christmas artwork — drawings, kindergarten craft projects, poems — and we hang them on every wall in the house.
We head to the library to collect our favorite Christmas stories to read aloud. The Yule Ball from Harry Potter. Father Christmas returns to Narnia. Mary Poppins goes Christmas shopping with a star. Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory. Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales. The Gift of the Magi. The Polar Express. The Grinch. Santa Calls by William Joyce, a rollicking 1940s boys’ adventure to the North Pole.The Night After Christmas by James Stevenson, a story so touching and funny I’m surprised nobody’s made it into a movie.
I get on iTunes to see what strange new Christmas music I can find. I’ve already collected 55 versions of Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town (Bruce Springsteen, Dwight Yoakum, Bootsie Collins, Lynyrd Skynyrd …) and 39 versions of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Tiny Tim, Merle Haggard, Dean Martin, Barenaked Ladies …).
This year, I started what I hope is a new tradition. My son and I both adore Legos, so I bought a big Lego Christmas toy shop for us to put together. Next we have to decide whether to take it apart again after the holidays.
Every year, our church celebrates the posada (Spanish for “lodging”), a Latin American tradition that remembers the journey of Mary and Joseph.
In our version of the posada, a wooden sculpture of Mary and Joseph is passed from family to family throughout the month of December. On Christmas Eve, the holy family finally finds lodging in our sanctuary.
Every year, I think that I should bake cookies and invite in the family that delivers the posada to us.
It never works that way.
For us, the passing of the posada is a hurried affair. I once left the holy family on somebody’s porch, wrapped in plastic, because we couldn’t find a time that both families could be in the same place.
This year, I dropped off the posada on my way to work, with a quick wave before I hopped back in the car.
Driving off, I felt, again, that I hadn’t done enough.
But the original posada wasn’t about warmth, hospitality or comfort.
It was harsh, frantic, disorganized. And the journey’s end was all the sweeter.
Maybe it feels more like Christmas than I realized.