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Preparing for Yule!

The girl, her face all filled with light and wonder, as we prepare to decorate the tree.

Filled with Wonder!

I figure it’s about time that I shared a few pictures from December first, when we decorated our Yule tree.  It’s our first year with a big (six foot) tree.  I’ve posted before about our little half-a-tree that we normally hang on the wall.  Well, in our new house we actually have room for a regular sized tree – so when Grampa offered us his (he was switching to a table top sized one) we gratefully accepted!

Lily-Ann, all wrapped up in garlands, ready for Yule!

All wrapped up!

We really did love our little half-tree-thing…  but this?  Watching the girl’s face light up, getting to pick out and buy new ornaments, as well as hanging some that Grampa and Gramma Joan gifted us?  It was pretty amazing.  Lily-Ann had the most wonderful time and it did my heart some good to be a part of it all.

Kid Kid decorating our Yule Tree, our first year with a large tree!

Trimming the Tree!

After it was all decorated, I put out the bags for her Advent Calendar, and she dug through them looking for bag number one…  thus beginning a wonderful new Yule tradition in our wonderful new home.

ready to open bag number one from her advent calendar.

Advent, Day One!

With that, here’s wishing you all a Joy-filled Yule!  One packed full with wonderment and delight.  Take time to be childlike!

Dicken's Christmas quote about how good it is to experience life through a child's perspective.




Yule be comin’ round the mountain…

Yule.  It’s little more than a week away.  But I’m willing to bet most of you don’t even know what it is – other than an alternative word for Christmas.  It’s a lot more though, I promise you.

When the early Christians were out shopping for a day to celebrate Christmas they chose December 25th because it coincided with the Pagan celebration of Yule.  Hoping for a great many converts from the old ways, they thought that usurping the high holy day of another faith was a good call.  Meh.  Not so much.  I have to admit though, it does give me a bit of a chuckle when I hear complaints of how secular Christmas has become, or how awful it is that non-Christians have usurped their holy day.

There are a lot of Pagans who hold a little bitterness over the theft of our celebration.  Everything from the tree, to the star, to the holly, to the gifts, to caroling, and more…  these were all Pagan symbols and rituals.  However, I don’t think it’s worth the anger.  I’m sure I’ve mentioned it here before, but I generally believe anger to be a wasted emotion.  I’d prefer to exert my energies in a positive way.  If you’d like to read a great little piece that talks about some of the early world’s December celebrations visit – and the writer presents everything in such a way as to give equal weight to all celebrations.

Having been raised Pentecostal (fundamentalist Christian for those who don’t know.  Borrow Jesus Camp from your local library to see Pentecostals in action – some call it crazy, but growing up from within the Church it was the way it was, it was our normal), my extended family all celebrate Christmas.  And I didn’t seek another path until I was 18, having always just accepted our faith as truth.  Now though, I happily celebrate both the original celebration of Yule and a turkey-day version of Christmas.

Some members of my extended family don’t really understand my choice to celebrate the Solstice… and one in particular who self-identifies as Christian (but who has never been a church goer and doesn’t celebrate the religious aspects of Christmas) can’t seem to help but give me flack about it.  Snide comments in regards to our inability to wait to open gifts until the 25th really do hurt when they come from someone you love.  But it is what it is.  Generally I really love that we get to celebrate both holidays.  For us, the celebrations last from December 21st through December 26th…  which is fabulous!

On the Solstice we (my immediate family) go on a tour of holiday lights, and exchange gifts, we eat, we drink, we enjoy the spirit of the season just the three of us knowing the rest of the world is on high stress trying to get ready for the 25th.  It’s a fabulous day and night that is just full to the brim with love.

On Christmas Eve my parents host an annual holiday party for old friends and some family.  We eat a TON of food (all finger foods)!  We play games, we laugh, we drink home made eggnog (I made some last year, and at request will be doing so again this year… and likely every year after that).  It’s just a great way to say goodbye to the craziness that often fills the couple of weeks leading up to this day.

On the 25th the wee girlie will awaken to find her stocking full of treats and little trinkets and toys.  Then, bright and early, we’ll head to my parents place again for hours of presents.  We unwrap one at a time, taking turns “playing santa” by picking the next gift.  With 12 people there, we really do spend hours opening gifts and sharing in one anothers surprises.  We’ll stop every so often to eat leftovers from the night before, and to make a fresh pot of coffee.  And then it will be time to open packages, insert batteries, plug new gadgets in, and play together.

Boxing day (for those outside Canada, that’s the 26th) all the Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Great Grandparents and sometimes more all gather for our big holiday dinner.  Everyone brings something.  And we also play a white elephant gift exchange game – all vying for whatever the best gifts were that year and trying to avoid the booby prizes (for a few years in a row, a half used tube of toothpaste kept finding it’s way back into the game).  Trading and laughing until whomever set the rules for the game that year says “enough”.  And we all giggle over who got what.  Games, desserts, visiting, and more laughter…  followed by major clean-up.

Yep.  I love all of our traditions – Christmas AND Yule.  And the fact that the beginnings of our celebrations are a week away has me awfully excited.  So whatever you celebrate during this season of darkness, however you celebrate the Sun’s rebirth, I hope it comes with many blessings for you and yours.  No matter what we celebrate, we should celebrate with tolerance, acceptance, and love… for no matter what our beliefs, we share the journey that is humanity.

Good Brown Gravy – Christmas Traditions

Hope everyone had a great holiday.  We always have a ton of fun, with loads of family.  I love it.

On Christmas eve it’s my parents annual “family and friends” party.  Lots of old friends, some that you haven’t seen forever, lots of family, and mountains of food.  Everyone brings something, and this year I brought home made eggnog (posted the recipe a few days ago on the blog, so if you back track you’ll  find it).  It was sooo good.  Everyone wanted to know what was in it, and everyone had seconds, thirds, and fourths.  LMAO  We played a couple dance games, as well as lots of rockband on the Wii.  It was a ton of fun.

Christmas day it was a bit of organized chaos as my parents, siblings, husband, girlie, and dogs (my parents dogs, my sisters dog, and one of ours too) all huddled beneath the tree for presents.  We ate left overs from the party, had a scrumptious salad, and just hung out all day watching movies and enjoying one anothers company.

Yesterday, boxing day, is when our extended family celebrates together.  Aunts, Uncles, cousins, grandparents, great grandparents… anyone who lives anywhere near the city… everyone meets at my parents place.  We eat a big turkey dinner, followed by mounds and mounds of pies, cakes, squares, chocolates, a gingerbread house, and more.  We play games, we visit, and we do a white elephant gift exchange game.

I absolutely love this time of year.  I adore family gatherings, and for our family, Christmas means three of them all in a row.  It fills my heart in many many ways.

Today we stopped by my parents (as if they weren’t sick of us already, having had us over the last three days in a row)…  LOL  We heated up the gravy and a bunch of the left overs, and enjoyed one last day of feasting together.  It was a real nice treat.

So… to everyone who couldn’t be there with us, we missed you.  And to all of our friends and family, we love you.  Thank you for being part of such special memories.  They are something that I will always treasure, and now, I know they are something that my daughter will also grow to love and treasure.

Merry Christmas!

heating up the turkey gravy

Mmmm.... good brown gravy.

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