Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Keeping Christmas

Our mother was born on Christmas Day.
"Keeping Christmas"  has always been a joy.
I think because "keeping Christmas " did not mean shopping or packages or gifts.

It meant starting with opening the first window on an Advent calendar on December 1st. Actually we started before that tracing with our fingers where each numbered surprise was hiding. The anticipation each day was a wonderment to we children. Also a source of argument over who's turn it was to actually open the window and make the discovery of the images and message  therin.  I still have an advent calendar, Today's image is a colorful drawing of three people in the garb of the time and region looking "afar", the message from the book of Isaiah says. "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light".

Advent wreaths were in most every home, assisting with the countdown to Christmas and keeping us all mindful of the reason for the season. Because  our Mama was a booklover, all our lives she made sure we children had the wonder of books ready to hand, especially at Christmas. The Advent season is the inspiration for children's book  just filled with wonder,  making young hearts soar.

We had lots of Christmas books read to us too. Our mother gave her  time to not just read the words on the page but to fill our hearts and minds with the wonder of a tiny, homeless, infant being sent to save all  mankind. We read The Christmas Story and Twas The Night Before Christmas so often we all had the poem memorized before Kindergarten.  We never tired of  seeing the images on the page or laughing at the idea of a daddy in a "kerchief". I still read my copy every season. Actually reading is maybe one of my primary ways to keep Christmas in my heart. I have a book of Christmas Stories which I read, in it's entirety, every year.

In my youth, and in Mermaid's, the Christmas Miracle plays in school and churches kept us busy with learning the message, contributing to the message and making costumes or sets for the performances or for the Nativity.
This was perhaps my favorite because I love to make things in general but I most especially  love theatre sets.
Truly the first chords of Christmas music makes visions of Christmas dance in my head.

I have attempted over the years to construct gingerbread houses or churches but the truth is I am not a baker. I did for a few years make an effort to create beautiful  painted Christmas cookies.  Alas,  they remained a vision in my head far different from the messy reality distributed to the residents of the duck pond down the street.

Keeping Christmas also meant getting in the car with cups of hot chocolate ,Christmas music playing, to drive around the neighborhoods to admire the  Christmas decorations and lights, the nativities set up on church lawns with lights shining on them. I still do this with the heater on and the windows open no matter how cold it is.

My most favorite part of Christmas has always been "Decking the Halls".  The first year Blowfish was courting me during a Christmas season he offered to "get the tree down for me". I found the offer confusing because I was pretty sure what I did every year was put a tree up, not down.  As it turned out, Blowfish and family favored artificial trees which they  kept stored in the attic,  I was horrified.
He found my reaction befuddling asking this, "You still do that real tree thing?" To which I responded, " It's deck the halls with boughs of holly not plastic" To his credit, Blowfish willingly goes forth every year to fetch and trim and set up as many real trees as I want, usually three.

 At the end of the season he willingly  helps to undecorate them all, pack up the delicate treasures of my childhood and Mermaids, haul numerous boxes up the stairs to the attic and helps with the cleanup of the fallen needles left behind. If ever he wishes for plastic trees past he keeps it to himself.

I have found, over the years, the traditional elements of Christmas celebrations from my own youth, my mother's stories of her dreamed for  Christmas celebrations and most especially the memories of all the Christmases of Mermaid's childhood are still the elements which most raise my awareness of God. I have been so blessed to live my life bracketed by my child and my mother. Both gifts beyond all measure. Every year, when we are home at the Pond, or away "keeping Christmas" in our hearts has always been the core of all  our joy.

May you be so blessed.


Anonymous said...


Ah, what a nice reminder of times past. It is time for Mr. S and me to go get a tree from the mountain and bring it home to decorate. I, too, love to share my ornaments from my past childhood, as well as all those accumulated since - many made by my own hands as my creative outlet. Humor and whimsey abide together on my tree. My own spouse was raised with plastic, but took very quickly to a fragrant real tree.

I hope your holiday season is peaceful, lovely, and fulfilling.

So happy to see you back.


chickory said...

I love the decorating the house part of Christmas the best. Having a tree and doing the outdoor lights make me happy. Our street is Christmas land this year - seems more neighbors are in a festive spirit. I like advent calendars and reading this post made me want to make a mountain nature one for next year. It was nice reading about the traditions your Mom started and you are "keeping"

really sweet post, Fishy. Merry Merry Christmas - and to you also, Serendipity.

fishy said...

I have a huge need to take Christmas back from the retailers. I try hard to stay out of them through all of December. Humor and whimsy sound perfect. God bless.

So nice to read your city neighborhood has Christmas spirit. I wish I could walk it with you and the dogs! I love the idea of a mountain nature advent calendar.
Merry Christmas Chickie.

Anonymous said...


I hope the holiday season is providing happy moments for you. While my tree is not yet up - we have been dogsitting a very large dog, and I didn't think there was sufficient room for both - it will be tomorrow. But in the meantime, I made sprays of fresh greens for myself and several friends from trimmings off the tree. They smell so wonderful. Another joy from my own childhood. Have you one like it?

Isn't it powerful how smells can bring back so much memory. Scents f evergreens, fresh air clinging to long hair, the smell of snow blowing in on the wind, and of course the baking.

Thanks for making me think backward.

Retailers see little of me, I make things, send food, make phone calls, pass around natural items, birdseed, or pass along heirloom things of value. I have to agree; the rampant commercialism leaves me disheartened

Hope all is well with you.

Nice to see Chickory stop by here and to exchange a word. I wonder what her current Christmas painting looks like. I recall one a few years ago that was very clever. Best of the season to you and yours Chickory.

fishy said...

How sweet to read you look after a large dog for a friend and make Christmas sprays from your tree trimmings and give birdseed as a gift!

I do not often make sprays but I do make a natural wreath for our Foyer most years and make two long natural garlands for the railings on our front entry. In fact I just did ours on Sunday.

I agree, the smells of Christmas transport most of us to a happy place!
Sadly, I do not share your talent for baking. If I want to enjoy the smells of Christmas goodies in the oven I have to visit a friend or a bakery!

Merry Christmas, may yours be blessed with much joy.

moi said...

Birdseed as a gift is a great idea! I love decorating for Christmas but was late doing so this year. A combo of ennui/Grinchiness hit me right after Thanksgiving, but I rallied a week later.

Lovely post, Fishy!