Sunday, December 13, 2009

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

nativityset

Good morning.

Another wintry morning in North Dakota, another week gone by...

I love this time of year, as Christmas preparations bring me great joy and inner peace.

Wesley and I do our best to make the holiday a special time for Matthew, and try to find a good balance between "Santa" and the religious significance of the holiday. Both of us love traditions, and this year we've added a couple more to our daily routine.

Since December 1st, every evening before bed, Matthew has carefully placed the next sticker on an Advent calendar we gave him. The countdown is on... only 12 more days 'til Christmas!

Just before Thanksgiving, a UPS package arrived with Matthew's name on it. It came from Barnes & Noble (mommy shops there a lot). Inside, Matthew discovered a wonderful gift: "The Elf on The Shelf". A cute little elf, dressed in red & white felt, perched inside the box, along with a delightful story book.

Matthew proudly read the story of the little elf, one of Santa's helpers. Each day, the elf watches over the children in the home, making notes for Santa. He knows if they are "naughty or nice," and remembers any special acts of kindness. Each night after dark, he travels to the North Pole, reports in to Santa, then reappears before morning, in a different spot in the home. He loses his magic if touched by little hands. Finally, on Christmas Eve, he makes his last trip to the North Pole. He will reappear next year, to signify the beginning of another holiday season.

It's been great fun every morning to see Matthew leap out of bed, bleary eyed and tousled, and scamper through the house looking for the elf on the shelf. He finds him with a squeal of delight, and marvels at the elf's ingenuity at finding new places to perch.

If you are interested, it appears that the "Elf on the Shelf" is currently near the top of the bestseller list at B&N. Click here.

The Christmas tradition that gives me the most joy is our stained glass nativity set. These beautiful figurines were handmade in Hettinger at Glassworks, a stained glass and gift shop. Early in our marriage, Wesley started a set for me, and then added to it each Christmas. A few years ago, when Glassworks closed (such a sad day), he made sure to complete the set. Every December, Wesley sets it up for me, and it usually remains in place until sometime in February, when we reluctantly put it away.

Yesterday, Matthew was allowed to carefully unwrap the nativity set from well worn tissue paper, and arrange the scene on the sideboard, with Wesley's supervision. As they worked, his daddy explained the significance of each piece, and they talked about the Christmas story. As Matthew carefully cradled each figure in his hands, and gently set them in place, I said a silent prayer. I hope that one day I will see him with his own children, and they'll set up the nativity set in their home. Hopefully, this will become a cherished family tradition that carries on through the generations.

After last week's music, a number of readers e-mailed that the video was a good addition to the newsletter. So I'll include a song each week during the holiday season. Click here for this week's selection.