Sunday, November 14, 2010

Celebrate the Season

Twig tree
Christmas will be all over six weeks from now.  Retailers are aware of the fact and the push for seasonal sales is well under way. Christmas has gradually become my least favourite holiday of the year. The hype and obligation, commercialism and expense smother out whatever the "true" meaning of the season is supposed to be.

Spray painting pressed oak leaves
Yule celebrations, which coincide with the darkest days of winter in the northern hemisphere, are meshed with the religious observance of Jesus Christ's birth. (even though he was likely born sometime in the spring). The same thing happens at Easter when the celebration of Jesus' resurrection is combined with Ostara, another ancient tradition. I know people who celebrate "Happy Spring", separating it from Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday which they observe with more solemnity. But I don't know any Christians who celebrate "Happy Winter" or Yule, separating it from their observance of Advent. 

Teasels and Milkweed Pods

This year I have determined to make this holiday more meaningful. I want to enjoy our changing seasons and live out the message of the angels who said to the shepherds, "Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace, goodwill toward men."

There are plenty of opportunities in our area to support charities and local business by buying gifts at bazaars, markets and small shops. We support the Mennonite Central Committee and Plan in giving money to buy specific items, from goats to school books, for people in third world countries.

Christmas cookies for sale at our local market
In the past week, the Becka and I collected twigs, leaves, pine cones, milk weed pods and maple keys to make natural decorations for the house. My husband bought gold spray paint and we were able to use it outdoors this weekend in the mild weather.  Stephanie, our daughter in Mexico, showed me how to make paper decorations which turned out beautifully in various colours and textures of India paper. So we started our celebration of the coming winter with a vase filled with pine cones and a string of battery-powered LED lights. The dogwood, willow and oak twigs, teasels and milkweed pods are decorated with leaves, cinnamon sticks and paper ornaments. Mom brought me a box of red glassware which belonged to her aunt. It adds to the festive look and is meaningful to me because of the family connection.

What makes this season special for you? What are your favourite traditions?

Close up of the ornaments


  1. Your decorations are turning out lovely. This Christmas ... will be different. We'll see how we make it through!

  2. Ah well, we put out fewer decorations than we used to, but we still light things up. As new generations come along, the magic remains.

  3. It is somewhat sad to me that today, those of us who are Christian have lost the fullness of meaning that the ancients must have had. They knew the value of a good seasonal celebration--so much so that they simply appropriated the timing and plopped their holiday on top of an ancient holiday.
    I don't mind all the trappings of Christmas--after all, we are partly trying to drive away the blues of cold winter (at least those of us living in the northern hemisphere). I mean, the nativity scene most likely had nothing to do with the way we portray the scene. We line up all the characters in one seamless view--which of course is NOT what the gospels are telling us.
    Oops--wandering off here.
    I do love your seedpod and leaf creations.
    And, yes, celebrate the season.

  4. I'm with you Ruth. I so don't like the commercialism that engulfs this time of the year. And, I LOVE your beautiful twig tree too... so creative!

  5. I feel the same way about Christmas. Its way to commericalized...the true meaning of Christmas is lost. I'm not a shopper to begin with and I even avoid the stores more at this time of year. I love our family traditional gathering for a day. We spend the day enjoying each other's company, playing games, and eating. That is the ONLY gift I need. I love your decorations, very natural.

  6. Ruth do you follow Dave and Morley adventures with CBC Vinyl Cafe? There is a hilarious story on how Dave at a neighbour"s Xmas party mistook her dish of potpourri for chips and nuts, grabbing a handful....if not check it out for the Christmas stories.,,,

  7. I really like your arrangement. Have to agree, Christmas hasn't been a favorite holiday of mine in a long time either. Way over the top commercialized. But, this year I'll have Mike and his family to celebrate with, and I'm truly looking forward to that.

  8. Thanks for your comments. Donna, I will be adding my Mexican nativity scene in a couple of weeks and I will make sure to arrange them creatively (and put the wisemen 2 years in the background ;-))
    Bonnie, I love the Vinyl Cafe but don't remember that episode. I will look it up. The Christmas episode when they took a car trip to the east coast sticks in my mind as very funny.

  9. I'm going out tomorrow to start collecting cones and items for my twig tree! What a beautiful decoration. I love it.

  10. I like the way you try to keep meaning in your Christmas through the things you make and by supporting others.Our family has a tradition of singing Christmas Carols in a very organized way.Printed out books with songs all numbered so everyone can join in.Over the years-we have invited people in to our house that had no family-were on religous missions from out of state-(even though our family is not very religion-oriented),alcoholics-homeless etc. My parents,particularly my mother has always had a soft spot for people down on their luck or had no place to go.-kind of different but it made for some memorable Christmas Eves.

  11. I make those teardrops! Though I shape them into the snowflake/star that link showed.

    I really love how you are taking Christmas and making it your own (rather then all a big box store homage to over indulgence.)

    We have little children now so our Yule celebrations have changed a little. Mainly, we do more gifts. That said we are trying to make the majority of them handmade. I think rather then using up all your commenting space, I will juts blog about how we celebrate midwinter (I've been lacking inspiration lately anyhow!)


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