Rituals & Spirituality

Non-Traditional Holiday Traditions

IMG_0186I was raised Catholic. My husband, some sort of Protestant. But, he refused to go to church after someone gave him a hard time about having nothing for the collection plate.

Together, our little family is very atheist. We celebrate the secular Santa and Rudolf Christmas. Presents, gatherings, and needed time together as a family. Celebrations with no religious overtones, but which include a ton of togetherness.

This has left us with some non-traditional traditions. “Hookey Day” is our favorite. We have been doing this since our sons were young. We pick a day in the middle of the week, right after Thanksgiving. We pick a weekday because my oldest son has sensory issues and navigating crowds is hard for him. I let the boys stay out of school. [Read More…]

Merry Christmas – The View From Scott’s Corner!

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Mothering contributor DeAnna Scott, 48, is the mother of twins, Robert and Phoebe (born via a traditional surrogacy in June 2013). DeAnna is a p/t photographer and full-time mom. Her work is featured on a monthly basis. Copyright Scott Photography.

Living Christmas in the Present

Nicholas X-Mas IAs a child, I never understood why adults were so stressed out about the holidays, and especially, Christmas. After all, it is a time of giving, joy, fun, food, presents and all-round merriment. Isn’t is?

I remember times when we didn’t see a family member or two, most likely, because of one misunderstanding or another. My own parents were frantically shopping, wrapping and having conversations about “don’t forget so and so, did you get them something?” Stressful conversations abounded about the food to be ordered and retrieved from the various shops.

Every year, without fail, my mom would say, “This is the last year I’m making these cookies!” as she tossed another pan in the trash that didn’t meet her criteria of taste and consistency. There were the occasional terse words exchanged. And, sometimes there were tears behind closed doors… or even across the table.

I didn’t understand: How did anything else matter? It was Christmas!! [Read More…]

The Trauma of the Tree – Yesterday and Today

fake christmas treeYesterday

How could my mother do it, do it at Christmas? She hung the stockings, baked the cookies, wrapped the gifts, even placed baby Jesus in the manger. And then, she did it, smack dab in the middle of the living room! She put up a silver aluminum Christmas tree.

I hated that tree. It was not festive, fragrant or full. Worst of all, it was not green!!  I was convinced Santa would take one look at it and, fearing high levels of radiation, shoot right back up the chimney. My brother, Joe, hated that tree more.

Since my father’s mechanical ability was limited to changing a burnt out light bulb, the job of assembling the tree fell to my brother. Joe was blessed with a methodical mind and a plethora of patience. On or about December 1, Joe began his work. He opened a large cardboard box and faced 642 individual branches of curled foil that fit into one, and only one, spoke on a spindly trunk. On or about December 24, Joe finished his task. [Read More…]

Presents or Presence?

happy-holidaysIt’s the most wonderful time of the year! Yes, it is. And it can also be the most stressful time of the year. Yes, it can!

The holidays just amplify what already exists in our daily lives, which is primarily love with expectations and generosity with obligations. Let’s look at this paradox closely.

First of all, the holidays extend to us the presence and opportunity to spend special quality time to be with family and loved ones in a most intimate way, without the distraction of work and responsibilities. What a delight and opportunity to freely offer our loving presence!

Then, there are the other ‘presents’ or holiday gifts. This factor can be a joyful exchange or can be a stressful comparison or expectation. Joyful exchange means that we purchase (or make) something for a special person in our life. We offer it from the heart, with no expectations or demands. Sounds simple enough, but to be honest, we are not taught how to give like this. Most of our gift-giving has entanglements. Even obligations. [Read More…]

All I Want for Christmas Is…Chanukah?

IMG_7794Where is my Jewish grandmother? That’s the problem: my grandmother wasn’t Jewish and neither am I. Neither is my husband, for that matter.

So you might ask why I am looking for a Jewish grandmother. Because my kids are Jewish – at least I think they are as they were born to our wonderful Jewish surrogate. Quite honestly I’ve not broached the subject with a Rabbi so I don’t know technically if they are. But, according to Jewish law, children born to a Jewish woman are Jewish. The technicality doesn’t matter to me really. I’ll address that some other day.

So, on the cusp of the upcoming holidays, Christmas and Chanukah, I am ruminating about what I find important in my life and the lives of my children, and why. I am thinking about the fact that I was raised in an entirely different religion. And, that this one act: the act of having my twins via a Jewish surrogate has turned our world upside down in more ways than I can count and forced me to question everything about my life. [Read More…]

The Season of the Dark

lightsI call the months from October to January, (when the days finally start to lengthen) the “ Season of the Dark.” My rituals stem from the celebration of light in the dark. I love this special time of year, despite its commercial exploitation, for the palpable experience it provides.

Growing up in a family that was not traditionally religious, yet still connected to the foundation of spirituality, rooted me in seasonal tradition. My father grew up Jewish and my mother a Southern Baptist. Together our family created a compromise based in love.

I have somehow continued to honor ritual around the light with my own family, and am now aware that my daughter, even in her distracted teenage years, appreciates them. I saw how adamantly resistant she was when we contemplated a possible trip away from home during the Holidays. Her excitement during this time has spurred me on to establish new holiday rituals ones that my own New England family would never have embraced.

It wasn’t until I moved to the Midwest that I joined the frenzy of decorating the exterior of the house. New Englanders rarely string orange and white lights that look like candy corn all over the front porch, as well as hang spider webs and giant bugs over the railings. [Read More…]

By |December 15th, 2015|Categories: Commentary, Daily Living, Motherhood, Rituals & Spirituality|Tags: , , |5 Comments

The True Age of Santa Claus

Christy's Christmas IChristmas used to be so simple.  My girls would compose and illustrate their letters to the North Pole in their very best flowery handwriting and colorful artistry they could muster – giving Santa great ideas of what to look for in the children’s aisles. “Santa” would find a bunch of toys, games and stuffed animals and put them under the tree and the kids were delighted on Christmas morning.  Sigh.  If only it were still as easy.

It all gets more and more complicated every year.  What makes it so tricky?  One sister is 14 – the other is 8 – and the age of Santa Claus is sadly coming to a close.

The teenager has known “the truth” for a few years now – and has been marvelous at playing along for the sake of her younger sibling.  But, just like she had to be coerced into dressing up for Halloween and opted to not have an actual themed birthday party this year, she’s not easily convinced of the necessity to sit down and write that letter to Ol’ Saint Nick with her sister.  [Read More…]

Fond Memories and Holiday Traditions

Chanukah - ChristmasDoesn’t it seem like we celebrate Halloween and then all of a sudden it’s the New Year?! Where does the time go? Trying to stay ahead of the game this year and get most of the holiday shopping, at least for relatives, completed well beforehand…at least that’s the hope.

As we near the Christmas/Hanukkah holiday, I often reminisce about what my Christmas tradition was prior to getting married. I am Jewish, but grew up celebrating Hanukkah and Christmas, Passover and Easter. Mind you, Christmas and Easter were solely celebrated for Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. My mother loves Christmas and all the cooking and decorating that goes along with that. My more religious Jewish friends never understood why we celebrated Christmas.

I love decorating the Christmas tree, aligning the ornaments in the correct positions to achieve maximum glow from the colored lights. There is an art to it. Reaching into the tree near the trunk to place ornaments providing depth and greater reflections of light. It’s fun, and I’m excited to carry on this particular tradition with The Littlest E who is now 6 and can be trusted to not topple over the tree. [Read More…]

Mr. Mom’s (Snippets of) Holiday Thoughts…..

Chanukah - ChristmasEarlier this evening, I was dumping old files from my computer and started pulling pictures of the kids out of computer memory. I smiled, but it was one of those half-hearted, oh-my-gosh I’m-getting-old smiles, because I barely even remember those little faces, anymore.

That’s probably one of the only reasons I put up with the holidays: I love my kids, unequivocally, totally and frighteningly so. I’m struggling to hold on to each stage of their growth, each milestone, every tear they shed. Sometimes I feel that I have no idea how to be a parent! Heck, I’m still having trouble being a grown-up.

But, here’s my biggest dilemma: I don’t really care about the gifts. I never know what to buy for the kids, the cousin’s kids, etc. [Read More…]

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