‘Tis the season, my friends. We are at it again, celebrating December in all its glory, with no holds barred. Our family tradition is to celebrate all month long, (you can read about it here and here) to bring wonder and magic into the life of our sweet boy. It’s about spreading the joy over as many days as we can, to really immerse ourselves in the spirit of Christmas. For us, it’s about making every day special, and not just the 25th. In our home, the 25th becomes just another day of magic, not THE day of magic.
This year, I wasn’t sure how things would play out. Isaac is on the cusp of 9 1/2 and as such, I didn’t think certain aspects of our celebration would appeal to him. Perhaps he’s getting too old for the envelopes, or the way our house transitions from a regular ol’ house, to a holiday wonderland overnight while he sleeps. But no. And for that I am so grateful. He said to me, during the afternoon of the 30th (November), “I’m so excited for tomorrow.” “Why is that?” I asked? “Because I get my first envelope tomorrow. It’s December. Christmas starts tomorrow.” Oh, he was so ready and not even being NINE could dampen his excitement.
So we began. In years past, Fred and I have decorated the house for Isaac while he slept, so that when he awoke on the morning of December 1st, the house had been transformed. This year, he wanted to help. So we brought up our decorations and slowly put things out and around the house. He was quick to tackle his seasonal/art table, removing all the papers and pencils that littered it, and replacing them with snow and woodland creatures, and Father Christmas. Oh my heart. The pride in his face, he was helping, becoming part of the MAKING of magic, not just experiencing it. That is a huge step, indeed.
On December 1st Isaac awoke to his first envelope. Inside, it read, “decorate Cider while listening to Christmas carols and drinking hot chocolate…and go out for dinner…”
Every year Isaac names our tree. This started way back when and he adores this tradition. Normally he’s with us when we get our tree from the Christmas Tree Village, but this year he had theatre rehearsal and we are going into the Village later than normal, so, Fred and I got it ourselves. However, he demanded to still be allowed to name it. But, of course. After going through some other names, mostly just silliness to get a laugh, he declared, “Cider.” And I loved it instantly. He has a gift. <3
We spent all day Tuesday stringing 800 lights on Cider, and then decking him out in every bauble and ornament that we posses. In years past, Isaac hasn’t lasted more than a couple ornaments before he was off doing something else. This year, however, he was Elfie, my head of of Christmas security and top notch helper. He stayed until every last trinket was adorning the tree. And apart from the lights, truthfully, he did most of it himself. He was pretty darn excited to, again, be part of the making of magic, and not just enjoying it from the sidelines. I loved this so much.
Tuesday night we were out at his theatre company’s release of their spring season. SO many great shows coming up and he gets his casting package in the next week or two. He can HARDLY wait. His secret wish is to be in Willy Wonka, which he has been in love with for YEARS. I’m pretty sure that would make his first year in main cast just about the best thing ever. I have, however, told him not to get his hopes up as there are over 300 kids in the company, and a dozen or so shows. Whatever show he gets, I know he’ll love it.
December 2nd – Second day of Christmas
Yesterday, I forgot to put out his envelope. How’s that for failing on day two of Christmas? Oi. I was SO tired from such a long day that I got all the stuff out, set it on the table and then forgot about it and went to bed. My poor boy. He’s understanding but I know he was disappointed. I explained, even elves make mistakes. It doesn’t make the magic any less real, or intended, it’s just that sometimes, even elves get overtaken by fatigue or other things, and they forget. I apologized and we moved on. When he finally did open the envelope, it read, “…shopping for the London Food Bank…helping those in need and sharing our abundance in the spirit of Christmas…” This is a tradition that he loves so much, being in charge of the shopping, thoughtfully crossing things off his list. It’s a big responsibility and one he carries with pride.
After a busy morning of homeschool theatre, tea with friends (while Isaac spontaneously worked (helped out) for an hour and a half in the cafe, making $7 in tips), we headed to the grocery to stock up our cart for the Food Bank. Armed with his list, Isaac made his way up and down the aisles, gathering what was needed (and a few things for himself, as well, lol). I was shocked at the increase in food prices. We don’t buy canned fruit or veggies, so I had no idea that these things have almost doubled in the last year. Goodness, no wonder more and more people are using the food bank than every before. But that’s another post. We gathered our food, and headed home. Isaac decided we should deliver it another day, as he was getting tired (and today, we realize, it’s because he was coming down with something).
It’s interesting -traditions can change in small and subtle ways, or in big and overwhelming ways. I always fear both, because I’m not a fan of change. But at the same time, change is all we can count on. I believe that if we lay a solid foundation of traditions for our children to grow from, that the change will be minimal. A friend of mine was telling some of us on the weekend how her adult daughter still really looks forward to participating in the decorating of the tree…together. How she can’t really change things up too much because then all her children and extended family are like, “What? No! But you always do it like this!”
Tradition is the rhythm of our souls all the year long, but particularly at Christmastime. It is comforting and reassuring and feels like home. Children grow, families change, people come and go, but the foundation of our established traditions, remains. They shift and morph here and there, but that’s what keeps the magic alive. So whilst things at our house changed slightly this year, I choose to see it as the beginning of a new tradition, with Isaac more involved, instead of a slight to the way things were. Truthfully, I loved his help and companionship as we decorated together. It helped me to appreciate the incredible young man he is growing into, and to bear witness to the beauty of his own human spirit. And really that’s what the tradition of Christmas is all about – sharing ourselves with each other and giving the best of ourselves, no matter how things shift and change. I can totally get behind that.