The Christmas that was

Twelfth night and Epiphany have come and gone, which means that Christmas is officially over for us. Yesterday we took down all of the decorations and got everything packed up and off to the storage room — and though the tree corner of the living room looks remarkably bare, it is also nice to have things all squared away.

This year I thought we’d try another experiment in our liturgical living project, which was to have a crack at celebrating all twelve days of Christmas. Now, when  we went into Christmas my plan wasn’t much more developed than that — which is definitely something to work on for this coming year, now that I have a better idea of the sorts of things we can do/manage. But my main idea was to have one special treat or activity per day, which we very nearly did. I think we missed a day or two — see: the lack of pre-planning — but on the whole I will still judge the experiment a success.

Here were some of our day’s activities:

  • Making a gingerbread house. We did this on Boxing Day and it went surprisingly smoothly considering that half of us are less than four years old. There was only a moderate amount of swearing, when I was trying to get the [expletive deleted] roof to stay on.
  • Writing thank-you cards. This was Dec 27th’s activity, and I was excited because Anselm has recently started writing his name. Of course, he refused to do it on any of the cards, so several of our recipients just got a half-hearted crayon line or two on his side of the page. Well, it’s the thought that counts, right? (The thought being mine, of course.)
  • We took a trip to a local Fire museum, which had many old and wonderful fire engines from the horse- and man-drawn days of bucket brigades etc. I would love to go back sometime without the kids so that I can read all the plaques. It had a kids’ discovery room with a real engine from the 1930s that we could climb around on, and a model train garden running for the holidays with many local landmarks to spot.
  • We ate the gingerbread house. That counts.
  • We took a whole-family trip to the library, which was special for the kids because usually Daddy is at work when we go.
  • I took the kids to a local indoor playground that had a lot of bounce houses, crazy slides, and the like. It was a huge hit; next time, though, I’d try to bring either my husband or a friend and so have a 1:1 adult:child ratio, because I definitely lost Anselm more than once.
  • My mom came to visit for a day on the way through to her mother’s. The kids were thrilled to see Nana, and my husband and I were thrilled to go out on an actual date to see The Last Jedi.
  • We went with my mom to visit my grandmother for a morning. She is 95 and lives in a wonderful retirement home about an hour and a half away from us. The kids warmed up well and had a very nice visit with great-grandmama, and of course were made pets of by all of the other residents.
  • We had a special feast for Twelfth Night, i.e. I put the tablecloth on and told the kids it was a special feast. Also there were cookies.

There were a few things I had thought of but that we didn’t get to, and there are other things that we did that I can’t, at this moment, quite remember. (Again, I can’t emphasize enough how last-minute all this was.) But even though the adults ran out of steam around halfway through, it was actually really lovely to celebrate Christmas as a season instead of just a day. It can feel so anti-climactic to have the whole long build-up of Advent and then have Christmas be over in just a day or two — this was a much more natural rhythm in many ways. Perhaps there is wisdom in the church’s historical patterns of fasts and feasts — who’d’ve thunk it!