Sunday, December 01, 2002

December 2002- Christmas Celebrations

December celebrations?? In a strange & faraway land?? Is it possible?

How about if you set up a computer which prints out decorations, greetings, menus? You may also input local customs to download ways to make these traditions comfortable to you and your family plus a list of locations for buying items. You have this computer, indeed you do. It's you!

You know the basis of your celebration whether it's Hannukah, Id al fitr, or Christmas. From your security in this base you build your particular celebration. I'm addressing myself to Christmas, since that is what I celebrate.

In a mid-eastern country we bought the three & six year olds spun aluminum pots & a tea kettle - not very pretty but the "adult reality" children love, and the pots lasted in the sandpile for years. Trees there were pruned in December. A large banyan tree branch decorated with my Mexican tin ornaments made a fine Christmas tree.

Here in the Czech Republic take notice of some of these things. Christmas markets, especially in Old Town Square often have some handmade items. Concerts and caroling fests take place in every locale. Glass vases, candlesticks, & bowls you have been collecting may be displayed with some red & green ribbons, some of the plethora of Czech manufactured Christmas ornaments, bits of evergreen branches. Every neighborhood grocery store & paper store has holiday items for sale. You might not have to brave crowds at huge department stores except perhaps for some special gifts.

If you get an expensive creche set for a keepsake for goodness sakes get a paper set children can touch & you can toss out if it's terribly tattered.Will you have stockings on Christmas morning, as usual, or on St. Nicholas [Mikolas] Day. Or both? You choose & explain it to the children. Those explanations are themselves part of celebration.

Will you open gifts on Christmas Eve as Czechs do, or on Christmas morning, or split as our family does for the sake of children's staying power? Choose for a reasonable reason, not a nostalgic one: "Let's open tonight. The guests will still be having jet lag in the morning", or, "I think we better do presents in the morning. If the baby isn't in bed by 6:30, he'll be miserable all day." If you have no reason for either, take a family poll.

Christmas is a moveable feast, certainly not on the calendar, but on the globe. It's celebrated from country to country. Your celebration happens becaue you bring it, make it, let it happen. You could be surprised. No one in my family will ever forget the Czech Christmas Eve afternoon eleven years ago when we had costumed folk musicians singing & playing Christmas carols, "reviving," they explained, "the old customs". Followed by a snowstorm, a blizzard, a torrent of snow, finished in a quarter hour, leaving an inch - or a couple centimeters - of enveloping powdery flakes.

Happy Holidays!