...Growing, Building, Cooking, Preserving, Crafting...

2006 began our urban homestead when I broke ground on a garden, which now includes perennial fruits, flowers, & many vegetable varieties. We dream of solar panels, keeping bees and hens. Until then we'll continue growing and preserving our own fruits and vegetables, building what we can for our home, cooking from scratch, and crafting most days.


Celebrating the December and Winter Holidays

Holiday memories
After many hours spent planning, researching, and drawing up a curriculum (for lack of the better word), I've come up with a plan for our multi-cultural interfaith (MCIF) exploration of the December and winter holidays.  Through conversations with Ben and input from our daughter we've also agreed on--at least temporarily--how we'll approach "Santa."  I am in no way trying to convert anyone to celebrate a certain holiday, ritual, tradition, etc. but am merely attempting to give V--and all of us, for that matter--a broader view of what others might be celebrating this time of year.  I encounter so many people who have expressed to me that Christmas is the ONLY thing this time of year and that by wishing someone a more inclusive "Happy Holidays" that I'm offending folks.  Being a UU I don't feel like I fit into the mainstream, period, let alone this time of year so I'm taking my guy and girl along with me on this adventure of learning about other celebrations whether they're other cultural traditions around Christmas or completely non-Christian or even non-religious.  And, most importantly, I'm getting some interfaith involvement from friends and the community Admittedly, it's taken a lot of time to prepare this.  Time that others might have chosen to spend at the mall, baking cookies, or decorating the house--all things that I'm not doing this year (or not doing excessively anyway.)  But I can already say that I've learned more about Christmas as well as the other holidays than I ever knew growing up.  And through this exploration I'm feeling like I'm finding my holiday identity.

We began this weekend hearing the Florentine Opera Studio Artists sing some gorgeous carols at a local coffee shop on Saturday.  Then we attempted to check out the Brady Street Festivus celebration, which we had to miss because I showed up 12 hours too early.

The Florentine Opera Studio Artists at
Alterra at the Lake
Historic Brady Street Festivus celebration.  I thought it started at 9:30 AM.
I showed up way too early to "air my grievances."
We kicked off the journey at our house on Sunday as we lit the first candle on our homemade, very compact and easily storable Advent wreath and discussed the season's history.  Then yesterday we began observing Chalica, a new-ish weeklong holiday that relates to our own "faith."  What I'm most excited about with this journey--besides learning so many new tidbits--is the cooking and baking I have planned with V, which will hopefully satisfy at least part of my goal to "give the gift of time" this season.  Tomorrow we'll be making pfefferneuse to leave for St. Nick who will in turn leave a small gift (probably an orange or grapefruit) in our stockings during the night.

Our first Advent candle of HOPE (I learned that it was acceptable to sub
a blue candle for the traditional purple.)
I'm hoping this will all become part of our family tradition for the holidays.  (Once I've gotten all the plans laid out this year, future seasons will be much simpler.)  When asked what my favorite holiday tradition has been thus far I say that it's hanging the antique glass ornaments from my great-grandmother, Anna (my namesake.)

One of my favorite antique ornaments has stood the test of time.
I still have the little artificial tree I've had since the first holiday season spent in Milwaukee.  I do see myself being a fresh tree person in the future, but for now this little tree, which holds so many memories--happy and sad--suits us.  Especially because putting the tree up on a table (in fact, Ben's grandma's antique table...see, the family memories run so deep) keeps these fragile ornaments up and [sort of] away from our curious 3-year-old. 

Helping put some of the finishing touches on the tree.
The stockings were  hung by the window with care...
The sparkling entryway with Grammy and Grampa's antique coat tree
adorned in lights 
And a vintage poinsettia tablecloth from my Gram on the table under
the glitter around the window (with V's hand wreath from last year.)
And a few more string lights to give the glass cabinet
an extra glow
Ben's simple creche from his time spent in Chile 
And my toothpick, clothespin, and popsicle stick creche
from second grade
Our family's focus for the holiday is "light."  We've been excited about celebrating the Winter Solstice in the past so took the idea of minimal light and expanded on it by adding a little extra sparkle to our place. Interestingly--as I've learned on this MCIF journey--so many of these winter holidays are centered around exactly that.  Makes sense.  If ever I wanted greater meaning for the holidays, this year is sure to provide.

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