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Yesterday, in the Catholic Church, we celebrated the Baptism of Christ, which marks the closing of the Christmas season. For all of you who find yourselves saying, “I just hate Christmas to end” I think the answer is the Catholic way. We spent Advent in preparation and anticipation. Following Christmas we have the octave of Christmas. In this case “octave” means it is basically Christmas every day for eight days. The octave is held within the traditional twelve days of Christmas which lead up to Epiphany, when the Wise Men from the East found the Christ child, and another week of revelry we call the Christmas season. There are beautiful feasts and beautiful traditions, all rich in meaning, symbolism and ripe for reflection. This was our first year successfully incorporating traditions we’ve dreamed of into our family. We didn’t achieve everything. I over did it with the crafts. But we are finding our way and every step forward is a beautiful step, especially considering we both come from families whose Christmas traditions have more to do with December 25th than the entire season.

Here are some photos of how the decorating adapted throughout the season:

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Our tree was beautiful, a beautiful temptation for our two year old so we brought out our “corral” which is a sort of octagonal baby fence. We did this past the two years. Each year I like the look less and less. This year I supplemented it with a couple white tablecloths. It helped, if you can believe it.

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For Christmas my mother gave me an exquisite silky, indigo, beaded pillow from Pier 1.

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A little before Christmas I received spousal permission to purchase this print “A New England Winter” by Currier & Ives. The perfect frame was purchased from Michael’s. You can’t see it is here but it has a sort of rustic wood textural finish to the frame, which complements the rustic setting of the print. The print is doubly special to me: it represents the vision of winter I have in my head and connects to our dishes, purchased during our time in Virginia, also Currier & Ives.

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The Nutcracker had a comfortable home atop some vintage red wood boxes.

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With the arrival of the Currier & Ives print, the vintage ornaments moved from the mirror to the chandelier.

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On a shopping trip in Walnut Creek I found this star at Pottery Barn on clearance for $6. I don’t remember ever seeing it in the catalogs. It is not technically a tree topper, but I used some florist wire and viola!

 

I began this post sharing the development of our family traditions. Let me return to that.

Hot chocolate! Our favorite is the peppermint hot chocolate from Trader Joe’s made with real dark chocolate and a subtle peppermint taste, perfect for enjoying but not overdoing it. Do we give it to the children? Not yet. This year we used chocolate flavored “shakeables” from Melaleuca, a nutrition shake for children. See the delight?

 

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Then what is a festive season without a party in household? This year, acclimating to life with many children, we hosted a Nutcracker Christmas party. I made a purple tutu for my daughter, and dressed myself in a lavender skirt made from a bridesmaid dress. My daughters eyes widened with joy when she saw me dressed up, hair styled in a bun ready for the party. Naturally dressing her happened with great excitement immediately.

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We borrowed a television from a friend and moved the furniture for movie viewing.

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Set out treats and made room for guests to bring potluck, cultural dishes that have meaning to them, highlighting the different cultures presented in the ballet. We moved the tree to the bay window behind in the dining table. This will be the tree’s home next year.

 

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See how the Christmas lights reflect off the windows? I was so pleased with the change.

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Hot apple cider plus a sparkling rye punch, courtesy of a Real Simple recipe.

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And children!

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The party was so delightful. I’ve learned to let go of a lot. It can’t be fancy with every detailed planned and transformed. Keep it simple. Keep the work light. Keep the kids in mind. Keep the desserts up high. It was a great success. We were also so pleased to introduce our friends to the Nutcracker ballet. We want to host these movie nights every couple months or so, as a way to bring the culture of our heritage to our little town. Ballets, operas, classic movies. There is so much to choose from. It’s a sort of artistic evangelization we have long discussed but not quiet been ready to embark upon. I think the time is now.

Thank you for letting me share with you! Soon I’ll post some photos of the little changes coming soon to our home!