"Do not yield to discouragement in the face of difficulties and do not abandon yourselves to false solutions which often seem the easiest way to overcome problems. Do not be afraid to make a commitment, to face hard work and sacrifice, to choose the paths that demand fidelity and constancy, humility and dedication. Be confident in your youth and its profound desires for happiness, truth, beauty and genuine love! Live fully this time in your life so rich and so full of enthusiasm."
"Let us look with greater hope to the future; let us encourage one another on our journey."
~ Papa Benedict XVI

Tuesday, December 14

Family Traditions

Today I visited my friend's blog. She wrote a post about her Nona that reminded me of my family. She mentions cookies that her Nona made every year only at Christmas and i commented about how i remember growing up, at Christmas time; mom would sometimes make a similar cookie for my grandfather. I sent Jude the recipe but it got me thinking more about the traditions that carry on through the years and generations.

My husband and i both bring family traditions that are well loved and cherished. Sometimes it hard to meld both parents' traditions, but wanting to continue these, you try to find a way. Last year my brother and his wife were discussing Christmas and St. Nicholas, including his feast day. As kids we (my siblings and i) did not really celebrate St. Nick's feast day but as adults we have both felt it a good tradition to start with our own children (i am not sure if his wife's family celebrated it but my husband's did not.) It was nice to see them discussing these things and working through what they felt was best for their young, growing family. It’s neat to see the older traditions continued, but to know too that we still have room to create our own new ones...ones that we may even get to share with our own siblings and their children as the years go by.

These past 2 years have really made us look at what is most important in life....When you are living in someone else's home, when many of the things you take for granted every day as yours and you use them whenever you wish disappear, when you're trying to stay out the way and be non-intrusive (quite a feat for a family of 7!) things get left behind, or are just not able to be done. You really need to decide 'how important is the craft, food making, and such at the very end?' Since we have been unemployed and without a home of our own, we have cut back on many of the feast day celebrations, but we still discuss them, read a story or color a picture, but it is all done much more simply. For Advent and Christmas, Lent and Easter, we still carry with us those older family traditions, and it is such a joy to know wherever we are, and whomever we happen to be with, we will continue those simple, old (and a few new) traditions that quite simply define our year, our faith and our life.

 Anywhere you are you can leave out your shoes for St. Nicholas. There should always be hope and joy in the simple things. An Advent Wreath is a simple reminder of the season and what it is all about...waiting, preparing, looking forward. Christmas is celebrated not for the gifts we give each other but for the greatest gift we have ever received. As you consider the sacrifices you make during this time of year, remember the ultimate sacrifice that God made for us.

It’s not how many gifts do i have to buy, how many cookies do we have to bake, it’s not about not having enough, or having too much... its about celebrating life, and love, and sacrifice. The traditions help us focus, but the gift would be there with or without them. For that we are truly grateful.

Advent 2007

Advent 2008

Christmas Eve 2008

Christmas Day 2008

Christmas 2009 at Papa and Nina's

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