Nothing Too Fancy

We mark each Lord’s Day in Advent very simply. We celebrate as a family at our weekly Sabbath feast on Saturday night, so that is the obvious time for us to do something special for Advent. Heather bought me a little Advent wreath candle holder a few years ago, and it holds four candles, one for each Sunday in Advent. So, at the beginning of our meal together, I light the Advent candles. Each week I light them, starting with the candle from week one and moving on. Then, in the center, we have the Christmas candle which we’ll light on Christmas morning. Doug has prepared Advent questions for the grandkids, which they answer each week, and then we sing the first verse of “O Come O Come Emmanuel.”

Though so far I have managed to get the kids Christmas pj’s each year, it’s not as easy as it used to be. With a the size spread from 8 months to 12 years now, they don’t always match exactly. But I remember how exciting new pj’s were when I was little, so I do the “grandma thing” and give them all new jammers. But bear in mind all you mothers, that I am not trying to lay any burdens on you. We are actually trying to free you from burdens, burdens of guilty giving or burdens of not giving at all. When we share our silly ideas, we are simply having fun and inviting you to join in.

Some years I give each family an Advent calendar for week one, and ornaments for the kids another week. Last week the Advent gift was candy. And this year I found some little boxes of handmade ornaments, so instead of giving each child a separate ornament, I gave each family a box of little straw and yarn ornaments. I keep my eyes peeled all year long, and I start gathering Christmas gifts early in the year when I find things on the clearance racks. (This is one of the joys of being a grandma who likes to shop.)

We get each of the grandkids one gift, and then there are the stockings. I tried to stop doing stockings for them a few years ago, because after all, they have stockings at their own homes filled by their own parents. But that was the year that Knox said to me out of the blue, “Nana, are you going to do stockings for us this year?” So I said, “Of course I am” and I have never flinched since then. You mothers of ten or more children, I am now seeing just a glimpse of the momentous task you have at Christmas (not to mention the rest of the year)! That is a lot of stockings. But I’ve been rummaging around and gathering up stuff here and there. I have them all standing up in a box so I can fill them as I go and see which ones are lacking. This year I had to buy two more stockings for two more babies: Marisol and Blaire. What a blessed dilemma it is to have to come up with goodies for so many little ones. I remember the year my parents forgot to get goodies for the stockings, so they filled them with potatoes and carrots! That was a good joke!

But I remember the fact of the stockings more than the contents. They were large and lumpy and absolutely thrilling!

Last night we celebrated an early Christmas with Doug’s family. His dad is heading off tomorrow for California to spend Christmas with Doug’s sister and her family, so we all gathered for take-out Chinese food served up on paper plates. This is a Wilson family tradition, though it used to be on Christmas Eve. This is our first Christmas without Grandma Bessie, and she was probably the one responsible for the Chinese food tradition, chopsticks and all.

So blessings on all your Advent celebrations. Blessings on those little fat heads around your tables. May your Advent be a lovely warm up for the Main Event Coming Soon!

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10 thoughts on “Nothing Too Fancy

  1. Stockings are by far MY favorite part of Christmas gifting–maybe it’s where I developed a love of things tiny and cute, or maybe it’s BECAUSE of my love for such mini stuff, but I would rather fill their stockings than try to figure out the “big gift” for each of my four.
    I think children need PJs from Grandma at Christmas. They DO like them, even if it’s a “grandma thing”. Mine complain about my mom buying them jammies, but really, they DO need them! 🙂
    Have you done more posting on your Sabbath celebrations as a family? I am intrigued by the concept, but haven’t been able to put it into being in our home.

  2. I think I was in high school or college the year we did Chinese food for Christmas dinner! Back in the ’80s, the Chinese places were open on Christmas day. I think now they’re generally closed. But Christmas was on a Sunday that year, and mom had a job preparing meals for the church…including breakfast on the Sunday closest to Christmas. Well, having already done a meal for perhaps 200 people, she needed a break. So I suggested Chinese food. Money was not exactly plenteous in those days, so it was a rare splurge. And we remember it fondly.

  3. My husband has always filled the stockings. He does all of his Christmas shopping on Dec. 24th, is gone for hours and comes home with lots of secret things. Our seven children and now our five grandchildren delight to see what “Papa” has stuffed in their stockings. Living in California, our Christmas Eve meal has always been Mexican food, yum! Our grown, married, out of the home children, still insist on being at our house Christmas morning to open gifts with everyone, talk about a heart overflowing with blessings to numerous to count. Merry Christmas.

  4. LOVE IT! Not burdensome, totally freeing. This is our first year doing small advent gifts, and we are really liking it. But my advent wreath is very ugly and plain. It needs help.

    I grew up right near the beach in the LA area, and our Christmas feast was often hot dogs bbq’d at the beach. Doesn’t really translate in the Seattle area. 🙂

  5. Bean,
    We have friends from Australia, and for them Christmas is a summer holiday. (The smell of eucalyptus always reminds them of Christmas!) They would identify with your hot dog feast on the beach. It actually sounds delightful to me!

  6. Nancy – one of the most delightful stocking stuffer ideas I’ve ever heard came from your family – bungee cords! I still smile every time I think of your story. 🙂

  7. Oh Nancy, you are far from laying burdens. I know where your heart is. Whether people want to admit it or not we NEED the older women to encourage us, give us ideas, show us all the different ways we can fall off of the horse, rebuke and prod toward holiness.

    I never really cared too much for Christmas (even though I knew it was about the birth of Jesus) until I married my husband at the age of 28. He taught me about Advent, he taught me that it wasn’t materialism to give lots of gifts to the children the Lord had gifted us with, he taught me the joy of decorating for Christmas and setting up a Christmas tree with sweet memorable ornaments build up over the years, he taught me to love Christmas music (religious and secular) I can go on. He taught me how to truly rejoice in Jesus and how to live it before our children.

    I’ve never been a thrifty or frugal person (far from it) so giving has never been an issue for me, but what I learned the most from my husband and then from you and Pastor Wilson over time, is how to give with the right heart attitude. I learned to delight and find my Christmas joy in the bestowing on others. So thank you and write on!

  8. Lisa,
    Thank you for the reminder! Yes! It was the year that Doug went out to scavenge for stocking stuffers, and he came home with wads of bungee cords. I was impressed with his originality but didn’t know what the kids would do with them. Oh my. They bungeed themselves together in amazing ways and used those things to construct all kinds of entertainment. Maybe I should grab a few for HIS stocking this year!

  9. Just now got a chance to read this from beginning to end, and I have to echo the “no burdens here” sentiment! Most burdens I carry are those I place on myself–“should do this and that” which often comes from over applying or over analyzing. My husband (who is an engineer) is excellent at cutting through my self-imposed crapola. I’m far better at 37 than I was at 22, and this is definitely by the grace of God.

    But I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, your willingness to share and teach through books, CDs, and online have been tremendously helpful to me. In Raleigh I had it easy with a great Ladies’ Bible Study with plenty of mentoring, but in Austin we’ve been so sick that your website and books were like lifelines. I share your stuff with friends, because though we were raised in Christian homes we simply were not taught about homelife, balancing priorities and CELEBRATING without getting caught up in perfectionism or competition or materialism.

    We’re healthier now and found and joined a church (conservative Episcopal, believe it or not, after swearing we’d never go back) that has the pastoral care, faithful older couples who love mentoring, and an excellent Christian Education program (for kids and adults!). Still, I like coming to Femina and other Wilson blogs to hear what you have to say. 🙂

    You have a unique grasp of reason and sentiment, the physical and the spiritual, etc. There are times I feel like the Syro-Phonecian woman because I’m not in your denomination but I keep coming to your table for bread; I keep wanting to learn more. Thanks for all the patience! 🙂

    Your family is in my prayers that you may find a special comfort during this first Christmas since Bessie left for Home. Merry Christmas!

  10. This is wonderful! I actually cannot wait to be a grandma now! 🙂 This will be our first Christmas in Germany. We had never really celebrated Advent before but here . . . well, you must celebrate Advent. So, I bought an Advent wreath — super pretty and did the candles just as you described. One day, at my daughter’s school, I got to have a craft-day with her and the class made the most beautiful Advent wreath I ever saw. So, I think next year I will try to make one with my children. Blessings! And thank you! Fröhliches Weihnachten!

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