Tuesday, December 13, 2011


      Well I am still not fully in the Holiday spirit, but I think with work as crazy as it will continue to be and the complete lack of snow at this latitude, I probably won't be until the Solstice itself.  I do, however, have more holiday spirit than I did last week because we've finally picked up with some of our holiday traditions.

      We got our first visit from the Elf on the Shelf. 

Who ever would have guessed he'd show up amidst the wine bottles?

       And we finally got a nice, reusable wood "Advent" calendar.  We fill our calendar with activities more often than candy or toys, and I'm looking forward to linking the calendar activities with the Elf's mischeif.  For instance some time in the next few days, we're going to go to the beach and make sand angels (because there's no snow here in the south).  I suspect that the Elf might follow suit . . .  I will try to put pictures here as we go.

      As of yet our Elf does not have a name.  He is a dark skinned elf*, and we have decided that he is most likely of Indian descent.  As such, we want to find a nice Indian name for him.  I have been putting my foot down when it comes to allowing Punky to name things after shiny things and random astrological/meteorological phenomena, and I firmly told her we are not naming the Elf Sparkle-Fairy Glitter-Butt or anything of the sort, which elicited much amusement.  Tonight, I'm going to ask NotDonna's husband, The Engineer (who is Indian) how to say Sparkle-Fairy Glitter-Butt in Tamil . . .

      In other news, MacGyver thinks the Elf might be starting to creep Punky out a little bit.  This morning he was hiding under the entry table, hanging upside down and took Punky quite by surprise when she bent down to pick something up.  Yesterday, while he was hanging out on top of the fish tank, she remarked a couple of times that she felt like he was watching her.  Isn't that the point?  Ha.  I'm sure he'll seem less threatening once he starts getting into mischeif.

      A couple nights ago, we all sat around the table and filled out Holiday cards (which we are only half done with and don't have any of the addresses to mail them, ahem, so maybe I should say Valentine's cards . . .).  We each wrote a short message to the recipient and we all signed our names.  I find this much more time consuming meaningful than sending cards that just say "Happy Holidays X!"  It gives us yet another chance to take stock of all the people we're grateful to have in our lives and why.

      We also have a special holiday tradition surrounding the tree.  We've begun purging all our meaningless ornaments and simplifying.  Our "basic" ornaments are now limited to squirrels and owls (MacGvyer and my totems, respectively), and fake icicles.  Then, each year, we each get to make or buy one new ornament, which gets labeled and dated.  Eventually, all our ornaments will be meaninful to us.

      I'm very much looking forward to our Solstice night traditions.  The night before the Solstice, we will attend a ritual at chuch celebrating the Solstice.  We will also, some day shortly before Solstice, bake vegan gingerbread.  On the night of Solstice, we will read A Visit to Mother Winter from Circle Round (highly recommend!).  After the story, we make Mother Winter's gingerbread house. 

       MacGvyer and I stay up all night together, symbolically keeping the Goddess company as she gives birth to the new Sun.  Since the kids can't stay up all night, we do a dream ritual for them.  What exactly we do isn't a set tradition yet.  This year, I'm thinking we will do dream satchets - small pouches with herbs said to bring about portent dreams combined with a little solstice symbolism (maybe some holly).  I'm also thinking of including the seeds we will plant at Spring Equinox.  The kids (well, really just Punky) will go to sleep with the satchet under their pillows and dream about the new year.

      In the morning, we go watch the sunrise, to greet the new born Sun.

      More traditions:

      We read The Grinch.

      We watch The Grinch, Rudolph (the clay-mation version with Herbie the Elf), A Garfield Christmas, The Santa Clause, Miracle on 34th St. - perferrably one of the versions with the Post Office ending (Check.), A Christmas Carol (Check.), and Elf (perferably with Uncle Boo).  MacGyver also likes A Christmas Story.

      We give something to charity and/or do something for charity.  Last year we did St. Jude's and Heifer International.  This year we're donating a lot of clothes to a local charity as well as to a village in Ecuador.

      What are your family's holiday traditions?

* MacGyver was quite disheartened when, as he was standing in the store looking at the elf a woman peered over his shoulder and oh-so-helpfully said, "Oh, that's a dark skinned Elf.  If you want a white Elf, they have more back behind the counter."  Yes, I get that she was trying to be helpful.  And honestly, if the situation was reversed (if MacGvyer had dark skin and the woman had told him where he could find a dark skinned Elf), I wouldn't have thought twice about it.  I may even have found the woman helpful.  Backwards and hypocritical, I know.  But true.  Either way, MacGvyer was did not like the woman's tone or implication.  We didn't care about the skin tone of the Elf, and MacGvyer told her so.  He told her that he was happy to know that the elves came in diverse variety and wouldn't expect Santa to segregate.  And the dark skinned cashier who overheard the whole exchange seemed to agree.


MiMi said...

You have to take pictures of what your elf is doing!!
I need ideas.
Of course your elf is a freakin drunk. JUST KIDDING!!! LOL Those elves are naughty though.

Emmy said...

We don't do the of mostly because I am lazy and the threat of Santa is watching doesn't seem to work on my kids anyway.
My oldest brother got married on the winter solstice- outside at midnight.

My Mercurial Nature said...

I actually forgot to the move the Elf last night (whose name is Starla because daughter is convinced she's a girl)...thankfully no one had found her in the morning before school/preschool, so I moved her after I dropped the kids off! I love your traditions, and those movies are some of our favorites, too.

Katherine said...

I'm guilty of the Christmas card that just says "Happy Holidays." But it had cute pictures of my kids on it, at least.

Gina said...

Your traditions are so, SO interesting to me.

I'm with Katherine on the cards. Whoops.

Impulsive Addict said...

I'm loving all of the posts about Elves on the Shelves. I am thinking I'll do it with Emma next year. I think she will love it!

Yes, take pictures!!

I'm loving all of your traditions! Glad I read this!

Karen Peterson said...

I like the idea of the Elf on the Shelf, but think actually having one would creep me out.

And I love what MacGyver said to that woman in the store.

You have some great traditions. All of our traditions seem to be waning since I don't have my own family to continue them with. I never really thought about that until just this minute and now I'm a little bit depressed. Hm. I think I need to go watch Elf and cheer up.

Jo said...

I'm loving everyone's fun with Elf on the Shelf but hate the premise (Reporting back to Santa each night on your behavior? What's up Big Brother? Creepy.) I kind of want to pick up some non-branded Elf or doll and just do the mischief-making anticipation-building silliness of it without the spying aspect involved. Maybe next year :)

I'd also love to know where/what kind of "advent" calendar you guys got. I've been looking around online a bit and on Pinterest to see if I can find something I can modify to Solstice (i.e. not ending on 12/24), but little luck so far...

And I'm impressed that you guys stay up all night on Solstice. I love the idea -- it's not unlike when I stay up with an actual laboring woman to help her welcome her baby in the wee hours -- but with Penny awake at 6:30, I can't imagine both of US being totally sleep deprived and still functioning that day. I think we're going to aim to wake up and watch the sunrise the morning after, however.

In reading the books we've gotten recently, I've been really inspired by the "rebirth" aspect of Solstice, primarily because of my line of work. This feels like my kind of holiday more than ever :)


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