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Holy Preparations

SFSU Bell Choir

SFSU Bell Choir

I am not very fond of Christmas as a cultural event.  For years I liked it and I did so much of my family’s work of preparation.  Because my Mother was busy teaching first grade and my brother and sister needed more time with school work and all of their activities.  My Mother would say, “You have a great talent for organizing, here is my list.”

So between school, scouts, church, and singing nearly everywhere I could, I would do the shopping and prepare a menu and figure out when my Father and brother would go and chop down a tree and our family would decorate.   I even did most of the gift shopping as I got older and the mythologies were banished.   I always had several friends I could celebrate Chanukah with and I faithfully lit the candles each night and sang my own songs.  I gave myself a chocolate coin for each candle, just like my Great Grandmother would have done.

Since my brother and sister refused to celebrate Christmas with my family in my later years, I just focused on my Mother and my own children; I was still using my Mother’s list.

I spent several Christmas’ in the dorms at college and graduate school.  I could not afford to go home.  I found I enjoyed working the extra shifts and I enjoyed singing for the folks who were at the hospital where I worked.    My church activities were often huge at this time of the year, and I would approach the New Year in full out exhaustion.

The last few years I have been changing my patterns and looking at my traditions.   I love having the kids come home and they love having a tree.  We kept that.  It is interesting to me that all of my children are involved with music this time of year and their MP3 players are full to the brim.  My husband likes the lights trimming the house and the Blue Spruce in the back yard.  He accomplished this feat and cleaned the gutters at the same time!

3 people desire magic gifts in stockings and one does not want that junk!  So everyone is playing a bit of Santa’s job with the stockings.   Doesn’t want junk girl is getting one item from her requests in the stocking.

I am going to clean the house and decorate the tree with my partner, because one wants the tree just there to dazzle her senses.   I hope you have noticed that I am not doing all the preparation work here.  The preparation work is evolving out the family’s wishes and important parts.  It is not my event and my orders, and my plans….this is a time of year which we pull out what is meaningful to us and brings us closer together.

The gifts of the season for us are the moments of preparation.  It is all the rehearsals with the Winter Warblers, the Bell Choir and the Peace Choir, it is the assessing our needs and wants and getting the other trappings out of the way, and it is the doing for others that makes this our celebration like no other and prospers the true magic of love – it is the Holy Work.

Is preparation the sacred ground or just a traditional habit?  Does the preparation assist you in your enjoyment of the experience?  Do you enjoy the planning the preparation or do you prefer that is just happens to you?

Related Reading:
Holy Pie
The Wisdom to Know the Difference
Poser: My Life in 23 Yoga Poses
The Swan Thieves

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23 Comments on “Holy Preparations”

  1. #1 Betsy Wuebker
    on Dec 12th, 2011 at 4:32 am

    Hi Patricia – I enjoy the preparations, but like yours, ours have been scaled back now that the children are older and we have downsized. We have a lovely high ceiling in our townhome, and our tree is 9 feet tall, the tallest tree we both have ever had. We went to a cut-it-yourself place down the road, and that, too, was a first for us together. Loveliness!

    I’ll be baking on cookie day with my daughter and a friend, which is a tradition, as well. This year, it will be an exchange, though, so none of us has to do much more baking than our one type, and then we enjoy the decorating.

    Since we were traveling until about two days ago, the elaborate house decorating will just not happen. I used to be so Martha about it all, but like the 80’s, that’s gone now! We’re also choosing to be entertained rather than lots of entertaining ourselves this year. :) Pete’s birthday is December 20th, right in the middle of things, and I want to make sure he feels celebrated, too.

    Thanks for sharing your take on the preparations.

    Patricia Reply:

    Hi Betsy and Happy Birthday to Pete,
    New activities are fun to explore and certainly help us in changing our patterns and beliefs.

    I believe small children need events to help them understand, but I am concerned what they are understanding these days in the Peak of Materialism.

    So our family is building from our values…and we are not promoting anything that looks like bling – we are looking at or beliefs and actions. The trappings have nearly no meaning.

    16 members of my extended family have birthdays in December – we are able to celebrate more with them letting go of the cultural …..we are letting go of CAKE too the last few years…one celebrates with pineapple flown in!

    Seasons best to you and yours….have such a great sense of humor that must be a great part of your together time.

  2. #2 Jenny Ann Fraser
    on Dec 12th, 2011 at 8:30 am

    Hello Patricia,
    I really appreciate your ideas regarding the holiday season. Being single, without children has lead me to question what I see as the madness of the holidays for many years now. For me, it has (until) this year been one of the most busy times for work making Christmas day a day where all I really want is sleep.
    I don’t believe that enough of us are really questioning how we approach the holiday.
    I like you, am invested in simplifying my life in every aspect that I can. This includes holidays.
    I keep things simple, and focus on time spent with those I love and not so much the external trappings of gift giving, entertaining and busyness.
    Jenny Ann Fraser recently posted..Comment on A Different Take On The Occupy Movement by Greg JonukMy Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    Jenny Ann
    I am seriously looking at what I believe these days and it is very GREEN and Meaningful not much in the way of things.

    I do not think I have dementia of any kind, but I find myself working on the simplest ideas and concepts. I just went to a Christmas party for the office and had my 10 questions all set to ask others, instead I found then all hungry to share their thoughts – hungry to be listened to…and yet no one wanted to be thought of as “needy”…..so the bling has not let go…

    We spent 3 hours decorating the tree for the girls too, and actually I would have been happy with just the lovely smell wafting through the house…

    Best wishes to you

    and thank you for coming on by

  3. #3 Patricia
    on Dec 12th, 2011 at 9:15 am

    Beautiful and talented IT Girl is in the bell choir picture above…Wow does that group play well – I was privileged to hear a this rehearsal.

  4. #4 Brittany
    on Dec 12th, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    Lucky for me there aren’t a whole lot of Christmas preparations to be done other than getting presents for my family and a few of my friends. The tradition of making sugar cookies with my brothers is a lot of fun though and I enjoy doing that. We make all sorts of different cutouts then make our own frosting, and frost them different colors and patterns. It takes hours because we like to get detailed with some of them and make it like art but it’s a lot of fun! I enjoy decorating the tree too and placing presents underneath it. :)
    Brittany recently posted..Don’t Be Afraid to TryMy Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    Brittany,
    So nice to find your here and to read all your preparations – how fun to have a special cookie event with your siblings. Those are the best I think.

    My girls will not be home until the last minute, each person is going to make a whole dinner this year and not much focus on sweets.

    Zip is our puppy who is so curious about anything under the tree, we will not be putting anything there this year!

    We like to do cross country skiing, hiking, painting and playing games rather than giving gifts…time is precious
    Happy Preparations to you

  5. #5 susan
    on Dec 12th, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    Hi Patricia,
    We’ve scaled way down in terms of holiday decorations. I have the mantle done with sparkly stuff and candles – a few other things scattered around – a wreath on the front door and white lights around the front entrance. That’s it. The last time I did a tree and the Xmas village and the whole shebang was when Garrett came home from Afghanistan a few days before Xmas. He was due home in Oct. but gave up his spot for a guy who’s wife was having a baby – then it was Nov. but he gave his spot up for a guy with a dying father. Bless him. He made it for Christmas, just barely.

    Anyway, things change. I don’t miss all the former fuss. I have more energy and time and money to make a difference for other families who have little to celebrate with.
    Hugs
    Suzen

    Patricia Reply:

    Susan,
    I am not even sure if we could be described as celebrating Christmas any more. IT is more a time for connecting with love and spirit and music

    I am so glad your son was able to get home – alive and well

    Coming together and communicating well…doesn’t need all the fuss

  6. #6 Davina Haisell
    on Dec 13th, 2011 at 7:51 am

    Patricia, your comment “The gifts of the season for us are the moments of preparation” caught my attention. That is what folk get so involved in during the month of December and then some folk seem to get down after all the hustle and bustle is finished. I’ve not considered this before as when I was preparing for Christmas I was focused on that one day — so, yes it had become a traditional habit. I love your perspective on this; thank you.

    This year I will not be decorating though. I will be spending Christmas Day at a friend’s place and since I don’t have children and won’t be entertaining, I decided not to decorate.

    Happy Holidays to you.
    Davina Haisell recently posted..Lorem Ipsum for the Smarty PantsMy Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    A friend at Choir practice last night said I was celebrating preparation in the Buddhist manner of mindfulness…working at being in the moment and enjoying it right then

    I am glad you can celebrate the day with a friend. I think after moving/ packing/ unpacking I would not wish to decorate either.

    Truly working on finding meaning and connection

  7. #7 rob white
    on Dec 13th, 2011 at 8:24 am

    Very wise Patricia. You truly know yourself when you exult in the spirit of christmas by working extra shifts and singing for the folks who were at the hospital.

    Ah, traditional habits can turn us into robots. I find gratitude for the spirit of the holidays gives us back our souls. I feel sweet relief when I no longer live by a check list. blessings
    rob white recently posted..Life Has Its Own LogicMy Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    rob
    it is a blessing to let go of the lists and particularly when it was my mother’s list ( she was a perfectionist – not artistic like Martha Stewart over the top kinda person – but needed to follow all the rules that she had been taught at church and home)

    I am enjoying the tree outside my window full of wee finches at the moment – very happy, cold view and very full of spirit and energy

    Thank you for coming by

  8. #8 Patricia
    on Dec 13th, 2011 at 9:58 am

    Patricia – By intent we live in a heart-based manner year-round. We don’t change anything (inside our out) during the holiday season.

    – Laurie

    Laurie is running a great series at Speaking from the Heart about the Zodiac signs….Holessence….

    I will try and get a link here… for her

    we are having trouble getting her comment to download…
    It is a great comment too.. Thank you

  9. #9 Patricia
    on Dec 13th, 2011 at 10:00 am

    http://holessence.wordpress.com/

    link to Laurie’s great posts and series

  10. #10 Talon
    on Dec 13th, 2011 at 10:09 am

    Through the years I’ve kept the traditions I liked from childhood and the ones we liked when our family was young and all under one roof. I used to stress over things being “perfect” and was grateful to finally acknowledge, long ago, that perfection is not only impossible, but exhausting in the attempt. So now it’s a year-by-year celebration. It always comes down time spent with family and friends and helping out those less fortunate. The season means more and the commercialism is so much less.
    Talon recently posted..December light…My Profile

  11. #11 Patricia
    on Dec 13th, 2011 at 10:25 am

    Talon,
    “It always comes down time spent with family and friends and helping out those less fortunate.”

    I think I am trying to walk this everyday and not just keep it a seasonal thing being love

    Nice to find you here – thank you for coming by

  12. #12 Melody | Deliberate Receiving
    on Dec 13th, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Hi Patricia,

    I’ve always loved Christmas, in no small part because my mom always made it so special for us. My family is spread out over 3 countries, and we don’t get together for Christmas. I usually fly to Germany to be with my mom and a few years ago we decided that putting on the full feast for just the two of us was ridiculous. We went from a baby turkey to a chicken. Then, a chicken breast. Now that I’m basically raw Vegan, it’s changing again. We don’t do a tree anymore, because we head off to a spa right after Christmas to ring in the New Year. That’s become our tradition. And you know what? I don’t love Christmas any less. Those traditions don’t make Christmas, being with family does. And even if you can’t be with all of them (which is a lot less stressful, BTW), or if your friends are your family, or if you achieve that feeling in May… it’s all about how you feel in the end. Not getting stressed out by antiquated and irrelevant rituals feels pretty good. I love your approach of doing what’s important to each person and leaving it at that. That’s how it should be. :)

    Huge hugs!
    Melody
    Melody | Deliberate Receiving recently posted..How To Love YourselfMy Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    Yep it is about how you feel in the end.
    I love your idea of the spa! wonderful

    As a matter of fact, each of my 3 daughters is getting a massage and pedicure with Mom ( well I will just accompany them) on a one on one basis…I think that will be fun.

    They usually spend the whole day cross country skiing with Dad and I cook all day for when they get home….This year they are doing the cooking – mac and cheese is the request with Blackberry pie :)

  13. #13 Elisha
    on Dec 14th, 2011 at 9:04 am

    The past few christmas have gone with me not minding preparation as I was too busy to prepare at all. This coming Christmas however, I have plenty of time to prepare for a good holiday.
    Elisha recently posted..Brainwave Entrainment Using Binaural BeatsMy Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    Elisha,
    I think just making it special for you and meaningful is the most important part of any experience.

    Welcome and thank you for your good words – Merry Christmas to you and joy in your endeavors

  14. #14 Hilary
    on Dec 16th, 2011 at 10:25 am

    Hi Patricia .. I sort of love both .. but don’t get involved any more at my brothers’ .. so I don’t decorate – though this year I have my parents Nativity set from Jerusalem .. so I may put that out – as a first .. I found it on clearing out Mum’s flat.

    I’ve decorated Mum’s room – but she finds it all too fussy .. I think the first year she loved it and I went over the top .. but I got satisfaction! This year I’ll keep it limited .. as I did last year – doing that tomorrow – when I have space to move around up at the Home ..

    I’ve got some bulbs in .. and a Christmas fresh bowl of cyclamen, ivy, fern etc .. and some narcissi and daffs I’ve been able to get recently from the flower seller … she’s not often awake .. and we’ll do things when she is .. otherwise – it’s peaceful ..

    I’m much more involved at the Home – as the Manager is receptive to things .. and I even ‘led’ the singing of Carols today – fortunately not many in attendance .. as I can’t sing – but I did find the old traditional carols and CD .. and copied out the words .. so we had a sing along. The ones there and the staff floating around in the corridors enjoyed it!! I am now hoarse as I’m not used to this ..

    Cheers – glad everyone’s joining in .. much more civilised .. enjoy the build up .. Hilary
    Hilary recently posted..The Christmas A – Z has come early …My Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    Hi Hilary,
    Suddenly we have gotten more stuff put up – our simplicity is threatened, and now that the range is in place and ready to go we will add the good smells!

    I think simplicity is best – something to trigger good memories and thoughts.

    I like your flower ideas.

    Hope it is a wonderful holiday for you. I can just hear all the singing going on! Good for you
    Patricia recently posted..The Tree of LifeMy Profile