It was enchanting to watch Leila experience her first play. I wish I had a seat facing the audience to absorb her every expression, but then I would have missed having her sweet, warm little body tucked in my lap. I think the epitome of holiday magic is to hold your daughter, so still you can hear her breathe, as she sits enthralled in the magic. I asked her how she liked it. “I go up there.”
Maybe someday sweet girl.
Why is it difficult for a person to acknowledge that another person will experience the world differently?
It does not undermine that person’s experience or their efforts or their beliefs.
It is not offensive. It is empathy.
…The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31)
When you see your neighbor overwhelmed. When you see your neighbor scared. When you see your neighbor grieving.
It is not defending your feelings. It is not telling your neighbor how they should feel. It is not ignoring your neighbor.
It is sitting down, in the dark and weeping with them.
If you ask my husband, he’ll say I balk at traditions. I disagree. I just pick and choose. For our wedding I picked a white dress and waiting to see each other and keeping the cake topper for our first anniversary. I gave into a few others. I gladly chucked the rest. I like traditions that bring comfort and joy. I like ones filled with quirk and fun. I do not like obligation.
Now that we have been married for over eight years some family traditions have evolved in spite of me and some most definitely because of me, especially with a little one in tow. I take pumpkin photos in the fall and bluebonnet shots in the spring and I use our Christmas card as an excuse to wrangle the entire family into a photo sometime in November. We go to our neighborhood Halloween Festival and Easter egg hunt and our Rector’s Open House each December. I make a batch of shrimp etouffee for dinner the night before Thanksgiving, these sweet potatoes the next day and Eggs Benedict on Easter morning. We do Christmas Eve, just us.
Now that we have an-almost-three-year-old I need to watch myself. Traditions are sticking to this family faster than a fly to honey. Today Leila said something about it being dress up day (we usurp a lot of Daniel Tiger phrases around here) and how she was going to wear her Dorothy dress and red “parkle” shoes to “Panish” class today. I’m starting to wonder if the Dorothy ensemble is an unwitting tradition I started. We had some good practice years. Now it’s time to get serious. We have a little someone perfectly capable of reminding us what was done before, so keeping it simple is more important than ever.
Biscuits and gravy seems to be our Christmas Eve morning favorite, Ben always brings home some tamales for us to enjoy and I just whipped up a batch of hot chocolate ice cream last night that is sure to make an appearance in upcoming years.
We gift Leila one thing for Christmas, I try to pick out some thoughtful gift for Leila’s teachers and our wonderful, amazing families now BOTH draw names, so our Christmas list is gloriously short.
We hang our stockings from the built-in with care and put out the nativity and bring out the Christmas books and hang the advent calendar and even have our little tree, this year at least.
Thanks to, If You Take a Mouse to the Movies, Leila wants to string some popcorn. We’ll see.
Next Sunday Grandma is taking Leila, Mamani and I to see Madeleine’s Christmas at Main Street Theater. The Sunday after that I’m taking Leila to the Nutcracker in a brand new red “parkle” dress she picked out herself. Tomorrow night I’m going to pop some popcorn, and we’re going to watch a Christmas movie together (I’m extra excited about this because Leila came up with the idea all on her own before I told her the plan. If a toddler sees some popcorn kernels…) I’m also hoping there will be one evening spent strolling around the neighborhood, sipping homemade hot chocolate, taking in the lights.
We might even let Leila stay awake for the Christmas Eve service this year.
What are some traditions you’re going to continue or try on for size this holiday season?