Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Preparing for Christmas - Countdown to Christmas - Day 24

It's almost Christmas! This is what we did today:


We went to Christmas Eve service at 3:00 p.m.; and both girls sang in the children's choir. Normally we look at Christmas lights afterwards, but it was still light outside so we went home.

The girls singing in the children's choir on Christmas Eve.

Had dinner: pork roast with a cranberry sauce that was made in the crockpot, mashed potatoes, dressing, and fresh mandarin oranges.

The pot roast was so tender that it fell apart 
as it was transferred to the serving bowl.

During the day, I made a cranberry salsa like I do each year. It's one of my favorite appetizers. This year, rather than serving it on chips, we used a multi-grain cracker.

Cranberry salsa with a granny smith apple, red onion, and cilantro.

After dinner, we each opened two presents.

Sophia and Olivia in front of the Christmas tree.

When I was growing up, we never opened gifts on Christmas Eve. This is something that we started in our family.
Olivia opening one of her gifts on Christmas Eve.

Olivia recently lost a tooth and she's been holding it in her tooth container until Christmas Eve so that her tooth fairy (Flossie) and Santa could see one another. Flossie has a plate of food and seating area as does Santa across the table from her.

A chair, table, plate with food, cups with water, a couch to relax on, and 
Olivia's tooth - all ready for a visit from her tooth fairy, Flossie.

I put some treats for Santa on the table.

Plate of food that I left for Santa.

Sophia was sorely disappointed with my meager plate of food for Santa, so she replaced the plate after I went to bed with a much larger one and a wider selection of cookies: 2 Scottish shortbread cookies, caramel corn, and a frosted sugar cookie with sprinkles.

Sophia's plate of food and water that she left for Santa.
The letters from the girls to Santa are next to his placemat.

She even decorated the plate with sugar sprinkles to make it look a bit more special. She set out the glass of water and then blocked the dining  room off so the dogs couldn't eat Santa's treats.

Olivia put carrots out on the roof for Santa's reindeer. This was Cooper's first Christmas, so he was particularly interested in watching what was going on.

Cooper watching as Olivia put carrots on the roof.

As with the cookies, Sophia wasn't satisfied with what was put out for the reindeer. So, she put together a big plate of oats and red sprinkles on the roof next to Olivia's carrots.

It's interesting to see how important some traditions are to the girls. This is something that we've done for years...ever since they were small. Not doing it - even when Sophia is 12 years old - is a big deal. Some traditions continue...because that's how it has always been done and it's important to have that sense of rhythm and tradition in one's life.

Sophia's letter to Santa.

The girls wrote long letters to Santa. Olivia dictated what she wanted to say to Sophia and Sophia wrote it for her.

Olivia's letter to Santa.

We checked the computer and saw where Santa was on his journey at http://www.noradsanta.org/.

Checking to see where Santa was in the world.

We learned where a couple new places were off of South America, and then were pleasantly surprised to see places that we had traveled to many years ago to visit foreign exchange students: Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The girls went to bed early so Santa and the reindeer didn't fly over our home!


Advent Reading

Matthew 1:22 -“A virgin will become pregnant and have a son, and he will be called Immanuel” (which means, “God is with us”).


Christmas Joke

What king is the children's favorite at Christmas time? (A stocking!)


Christmas Fact

We learned about the Wise Men who came to visit Jesus. The following facts are from Wikipedia:

Traditions identify a variety of different names for the Magi. In the Western Christian church they have been commonly known as:
=> Melchior (also Melichior), a Persian scholar;
=> Caspar (also Gaspar, Jaspar, Jaspas, Gathaspa, and other variations), an Indian scholar; and
=> Balthazar (also Balthasar, Balthassar, and Bithisarea), an Arabian scholar.

The phrase from the east, more literally from the rising [of the sun], is the only information Matthew provides about the region from which they came. Historian John of Hildesheim relates a tradition in the ancient silk road city of Taxila (near Islamabad in Pakistan) that one of the Magi passed through the city on the way to Bethlehem.

On finding him, they gave baby Jesus three symbolic gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Warned in a dream that Judean king Herod intended to kill the child, they decided to return home by a different route.

The Magi are described as "falling down", "kneeling" or "bowing" in the worship of Jesus. This gesture, together with Luke's birth narrative, had an important effect on Christian religious practices. They were indicative of great respect, and typically used when venerating a king.

Inspired by these verses, kneeling and prostration were adopted in the early Church. While prostration is now rarely practicd in the West, bar kneeling in front of statues in Catholic worship, it is still relatively common in the Eastern Churches, especially during Lent. Kneeling has remained an important element of Christian worship to this day.

Three gifts are explicitly identified in Matthew: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Many different theories of the meaning and symbolism of the gifts have been brought forward. While gold is fairly obviously explained, frankincense, and particularly myrrh, are much more obscure.

The theories generally break down into two groups:

=> All three gifts are ordinary offerings and gifts given to a king. Myrrh being commonly used as an anointing oil, frankincense as a perfume, and gold as a valuable.

=> The three gifts had a spiritual meaning : gold as a symbol of kingship on earth, frankincense (an incense) as a symbol of deity, and myrrh (an embalming oil) as a symbol of death.

Sometimes the gifts are described more generally as gold symbolizing virtue, frankincense symbolizing prayer, and myrrh symbolizing suffering.

Western Christianity celebrates the Magi on the day of Epiphany, January 6, the day immediately following the twelve days of Christmas, particularly in the Spanish-speaking parts of the world. In these areas, the Three Kings ("los Reyes Magos de Oriente", also "Los Tres Reyes Magos" and "Los Reyes Magos") receive letters from children and so bring them gifts on the night before Epiphany.

In Spain, each one of the Magi is supposed to represent one different continent, Europe (Melchior), Asia (Caspar) and Africa (Balthasar). According to the tradition, the Magi come from the Orient on their camels to visit the houses of all the children; much like Santa Claus with his reindeer, they visit everyone in one night.

In some areas, children prepare a drink for each of the Magi. It is also traditional to prepare food and drink for the camels, because this is the only night of the year when they eat.

A tradition in German-speaking areas is the writing of the three kings' initials (C+M+B or C M B, or K+M+B in those areas where Caspar is spelled Kaspar) above the main door of Catholic homes in chalk. This is a new year's blessing for the occupants and the initials also are believed to also stand for "Christus mansionem benedicat" ("May/Let Christ Bless This House").

Depending on the city or town, this will be happen sometime between Christmas and the Epiphany, with most municipalities celebrating closer to the Epiphany.

1 comment:

Rita said...

I've just read lots and lots of posts! I hope your mom is okay?
I have learned many things about Christmas. Fun to see what your traditions are. Loved that the tooth fairy and Santa would be visiting together. :)
Happy New Year. I have been away, but hope to be keeping abreast of my blog reading now in 2014. :)