PP – Christmas With The Family

By Jodi Lee
~Originally Published November 2000~
(see author/copyright info below)

Please note that our familial circumstances have changed since this article was written. I have removed the paternal influence’s name from the article at my daughters’ request.

Less than a week following Samhain, my girls were clamoring for the Christmas tree to be put up, and there to be presents under it. Amazingly enough, once told that it was still seven weeks before Christmas, and that was a long time to wait, they relented. Just a little…I didn’t want to think about Christmas yet – I have a huge extended family, and we try to get everyone together at Christmas. This year, it’s my mom’s and my turn to coordinate the festivities, and I frankly haven’t wanted to think about it since last year (don’t ask-long story). It’s somewhat difficult explaining my differing beliefs to some of the cousins and their spouses…and pointing out pagan practices in modern Christmas traditions just doesn’t go over. So, we three (my girls and I) say our blessing, and those that understand do, those that don’t..well, they are a tolerant bunch. That’s maybe why I love em so much..(grin).

The second week of November was chillingly cold here. On Monday, both girls woke feeling a little under weather, and although my oldest didn’t have a fever, her sister had a slight one, and some mysterious marks on her face. I had worked the “night shift”, getting some articles done and working on formatting a new work for my E-publishing venture. I was tired, and my eyes were terribly sore from staring at the computer for six hours…and I was just slightly grouchy too (grin). Carrie (my youngest) ended up in tears as her temperature rose and her tolerance for anyone dropped. Rhiannon (my oldest), has little patience for anything in the morning, and decided she was going to school to get away from her sister. Sibling rivalry overcomes the blahs of winter.

We got Rhiannon off to school, and waited to hear from the nurse’s office as to whether or not we should take Carrie in to be checked out. When ten AM rolled around, and they hadn’t phoned, I figured I’d go to bed, and Carrie and her father could fend for themselves. I wasn’t too worried about her – she’s had two mild cases of Chicken Pox before, and that’s what this looked to be as well. But why did I leave Daddy in charge of a little girl who knows how to pull the sympathy strings? Lack of foresight perhaps. Or exhaustion.

My alarm rang at 2:30 PM, and I stumbled from the bedroom rubbing the sleep from my eyes and mumbling about coffee. Again, lack of foresight kept my eyes closed (I can navigate the room in pitch darkness, why not with my eyes closed?). Something prickly hit first my legs, and then my face as I made intimate aquaintance with our tree. The two culprits were sitting silent on the chair, hoping I wouldn’t notice them, or the guilty looks on their oh-so-innocent faces. Goddess knows where I summoned the smile from, but I managed. Ok, so I like the holiday season as much as anyone, and I guess I can admit defeat in yet another battle to keep Christmas at bay for as long as possible.

While the two of them washed the ornaments and garland (they met with a nasty accident involving a hot water tank, a broken pipe, and a wrench thrown in frustration against the low table they were stored on), I made myself extra-super-strong coffee, sat down with “Yule – A Celebration of Light and Warmth” by Dorothy Morrison, hoping this would inspire some warmth and holiday spirit within my own spirit. It did, and after dinner that night, as the girls decorated the tree with the shiny clean ornaments, and lamented the loss of the musical lights (note-water and musical lights don’t mix; and no, I’m not disappointed in the least WEG), I sat writing an entire gift list for my family, with some ideas from said book. The crafts and activities in this book are wonderful, and I highly recommend them for those celebrating Yule with families that celebrate Christmas.

Rhiannon and Carrie excitedly wrote their “Santa” letters, even though they know he isn’t real by mundania standards, it’s a great way for us as parents to know what they really want for gifts, and mailing letters to Santa through the Canadian Postal Service results in replies from the jolly old elf himself. Or at least a reasonable facsimile in the guise of a volunteer postal worker.

Once the girls had finished, we went over the gift list I had made for our family. We decided on handcrafted items for everyone, with supplies purchased at various outlets locally. My grandparents fuss every year about people buying them things – they have everything, and not only that, for the most part they have two of everything. Their most favored gifts are always pictures of the youngest members of our family, so this year, we will be making them a picture frame to hold the girls’ school pictures. Next on the list is my mother. Easily the most difficult person to buy anything for, and although she gets pics every year too, she has special frames she uses, and just stacks the pictures inside, with the new one in front. So, what to make her.

Carrie said candles, Rhiannon said Christmas decorations (they know she adores both). We went through the stock here at the house (supplies from TPS), and came up with two marble tea-light holders, a ton of loose Yule decorations, a square offering bowl, and my hot glue gun. We took the hot glue, set up the candle holders, and glued decorations to the bases, and they look marvelous! We’ll be including a month’s worth of tea-lights as well.

Finally on my list is my younger brothers. One wants a computer of his own, the other wants a Pokemon game for his Game-Boy. Not gonna happen, at least not from this sister. And since they don’t have any other sisters, they are stuck…(WEG). Both enjoy hot chocolate, hot cider, instant oatmeal, and chocolate. All but the chocolate must be instant…if it can’t go in the microwave, they won’t eat or drink it. Persnickety they are.

Ms.Morrison’s recipe for Coffee Spoons hit me between the eyes with an idea. Why not expand on that, and their likes, and put together a collage of items? They’ll be getting Christmas themed ceramic bowls, each with two packages of instant oatmeal, two of hot chocolate, two of hot cider, four chocolate spoons, and two caramel spoons. They received Christmas mugs a few years ago, and save use of them for hot chocolate only, and only they are allowed to use them (I found that out the hard way). This’ll suit them…and of course, being the wonderful brother-in-law he is, the hubby is going to dig around and get the boys a game for their computer. My mother is finally adding to the hard drive space, and the set we have in mind is actually eight games (or is it nine?) in one – The Ultima Collection. This will give both of them games that are on their individual levels…

Of course, all of the gift-giving with my family takes place on whatever day we all get together. Rarely on the 25th, and definitely not before. Because J. isn’t “completely pagan”, we celebrate both Yule and Christmas here at home. The girls get a Yule gift, and then at Christmas they get the bulk of their loot, er, gifts. But after the morning excitment is over, we’ll watch movies or play games…we don’t do the big meal thing…more than one big Christmas meal a year is redundant, and over-kill to my mind. I sometimes sit back and thank the Goddess that I don’t have to accomodate in-laws…I love family, but having at least two family gatherings would be too much…(grin).

I’ll write more on Yule itself in another article. This one in itself got much too long winded for what I wanted to say, and that was this – Christmas isn’t just a Christian holiday…it’s ok if we pagans celebrate it as well. We can include our own beliefs in family gatherings, even if we can’t or don’t explain everything to the family. This is the season for love, warmth and blessings of any kind, enjoy it!

Jodi Lee – is a freelance writer/editor living in southern Manitoba, Canada.
© 2000 – present All Rights Reserved; Republish notice excluded.

This article can be republished elsewhere in its entirety so long as the author is notified (see contact information), a link is provided to the website, and this notice is left intact.

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