Those of you who’ve been reading this blog for the last couple years know this already, but for those of you who may be newer here — our Yule celebrations generally begin on the Solstice and continue on through the New Year. The tradition dates back to pre-Christian European celebrations of the Winter but is the source of the later Christian tradition which gave us the popular song, The 12 Days of Christmas. In our family, we also throw Chanukah in there, and Christmas, and some birthdays as well before we get to the end of the year and the beginning of the next. This means we light lots of candles; we stretch out the present-opening for at least a week; we leave out cookies and milk for Santa, a carrot for the reindeer, an apple for Sleipnir (possible origin of the stocking tradition), and some tiny fruit (this year pomegranate kernels) for Holly the Christmas Faery (I know, I know — it is a bit much, but we’re indulging ourselves as much as we are them…); we have birthday cake; we play; we snuggle; we eat amazing food; and we talk about everything. We also have family, usually some faction of grandparents, come and/or we go visit some of them at this time of year. This particular year, and every year that we have the older girls for the week that includes Christmas day (i.e. every other year), my parents came/come to visit. And this year like every year that they come, they have seamlessly folded themselves into our family life and joined us in our living in such a natural way that it is almost as if there’s nothing out of the ordinary (in the nicest possible way). Grandpa George just comes along for the frozen tundra dog walk with Natalie and I, while Nana just hangs out with the girls playing or working on crafts. They both play the hand squeezing game with us at the dinner table each night after we give thanks. They both piled onto the couch tonight with kids scrunched inbetween their shins, burritos and plates in hand, before a miniscule 15″ TV screen to watch Brave. Natalie said, “You Dents sure are good sports…” and I agree — they’re up for whatever. Not many people can say that of the grandparents in their lives. I’m pretty thankful about that. Thankful that when my kid passes my Christian mom another Yule candle to put some of her “sthpirit” into, that my mom just smiles and takes the candle. Thankful that my Dad let’s the girls play his ipad video games with him.
I also continue to be really delighted by how we work this Winter Holiday stuff. Stretching it out; opening a few presents each day with some extra on Christmas; adding more of the parts we enjoy to our annual celebrations — like more candle-lighting this year, and making a tradition of delivering gingerbread cookies to our neighbors (this year the girls went in fancy dresses); the girls making favorite dishes for the big feast; making time to just enjoy each other for long uninterrupted periods… these are some stellar traditions to have in my humble opinion.
Yesterday we belatedly celebrated Bella’s 12th(!) birthday family-style. We made her one of her favorite breakfasts, we had one of Natalie’s amazing cakes, Bella opened presents (including a bow and padded arrows), she got to choose dinner (and went for Taco Del Sol burritos — a mainstay of her early years), and we watched the movie all cozied-up together. Today we’re preemptively doing Grandpa George’s birthday with more celebrating, more candles, more gifts, and more good food (though we’re going out to Scotty’s Table, one of the best restaurants in Missoula, tonight instead of having burritos on our couch…).
Here’s what it’s been looking like:
We’re all doing our part to enjoy ourselves to the fullest, and I’d say we’ve been absolutely successful in that endeavor. And, for me, it’s just so darn nice to be part of such a sweet pack. Speaking of which, I want to get back to the action!
I hope you’re all still getting to enjoy your own holiday fun with your own packs.