The Tension, Magnets, Martha, and Merry

So, there’s this tension for me (and for many) between the religious and the cultural celebrations of Christmas. I realize for many of you reading this, I have just stated that the sky is blue. It’s a tricky road to walk.

Yes, Advent and Christmas are sacred holidays/seasons. No, they are not the most important religious days of the year (Lent, Easter and Pentecost are). But they are religious, and I want to keep the holy in the holidays. I think, in particular, that the Advent admonition to wait is a good one to practice.

They are, however, celebrated within the context of a very secular celebration (with customs mostly borrowed from pagan traditions). And, those secular celebrations are fun. And life is fun. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of Merry, eh?

I have a five year old.  She, thankfully, only watches PBS, and hasn’t seen any toy ads, but she still goes to kindergarten. And she’s five. And she’s getting excited. When she was 3 she was so new to the country that she had no idea what was going on, other than she could see “that man” everywhere. At four, she attended a Jewish pre-school and couldn’t figure out why we didn’t have a dreidel. But now she’s five. She knows what’s coming. She has no idea when (she can’t remember if her birthday comes first or Christmas) but she knows it’s coming. In the last 2 days, she’s bought up Christmas a couple times.

So we  set some parameters, enjoy the season, keep the holy and hopefully keep from self-combustion.

For me, those parameters are that we put up the Advent wreath (the real one) on the first Sunday of Advent.  Beginning December 1, we will do the secular Advent calendar, Christmas music, Christmas pajamas, and possibly Christmas decorations (might have to wait until the 2nd to have time to do those, though).

The real clineher though, will be the Christmas DVD. Yes, DVD singular. I have one and it’s the most annoying DVD that I have ever seen in my life. That little baby won’t come out of hiding until at least the 7th, and possibly later.  I’ll probably make cookies around then, too.

The advent wreath marks the time, of course, but a week is a hard concept for a kid. So the advent calendar will be fun.

I got a little Martha Stewarty this year.  Martha put this in her magazine. Yeah, 25 different shades of glitter. Me, not so much.

But I did like the idea of using magnets that could hide a little treat. So I did Martha lite: 100% less glitter. I got the spice magnet jars from IKEA.  They were a little pricey, but I had saved my receipt coupons, and that covered almost half of it. Then I got a stack of Christmas paper at JoAnT*s for $4.99 (with plenty left over for ornament making) and a package of number stickers ($1.19).  This year, since I bought the spice containers, the little gifties inside are free or cheap.  I bought 2 pairs of dollar socks and a jingle bell necklace. The rest of the stuff is things I had in the house (including some candy from her Halloween bag and some leftover favors from her own birthday party. Slacker mom.)

Next year, I’m going to try to kick it up a notch in little treats. I can squirrel stuff away all year.

I think she’s going to love opening up the tins every day–hopefully this year and many years to come.  And I expect Martha to give me a jingle any day now.




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