It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Chri… Yuletide!
Author: Lori Dake
One of the things I truly enjoy doing is decorating for the Holidays, and the Sunday before Thanksgiving is when I start doing my yearly ritual. It was a lot later when I was growing up, sometimes as late as Christmas Eve, because we always had a real tree, and as you all know, real trees tend to dry out and look rather Charlie Brown-ish if it’s left up too long.
I do miss the wonderful pine smell, but I certainly don’t miss the pine needles all over the floor stabbing my toes, or the resin giving me a terrible rash as I string up the lights, nor do I miss the aftermath of what an urban Pagan apartment dweller is to do with a tree that was cut down for our amusement. So, since we use an artificial tree year after year, I get to decorate mine much earlier, as well as lavishly cover our humble abode in twinkly white lights and pretty red ribbons. So, early decorating is a bit of a tradition I have started, and hey – one of the perks of having your own family is to change things up a bit!
And why do I choose to decorate before Thanksgiving? I means seriously! Don’t we always complain about how the holidays are rolling around earlier and earlier, no thanks to the Big Box stores (and all their evilness!) trying to make a few more dollars? Well, quite frankly, I’m going to be busy preparing Thursday’s feast all this week starting on Monday, since I do prep work like a well-founded catering company! Also, since we run a home business predominantly through eBay, the Dakes will be in a retail full swing, trying to compete with those aforementioned Big Box stores and their incredibly low prices! And, Sunday is Clean Up The House! day around these parts, so this is really the only opportunity I have to decorate before Santa starts to pack up his sleigh. That, and well, decorating, for me at least, is a lot of work – an all-day thing actually! – so I want to enjoy the fruits of my labor for just a little bit longer. But I promise, after New Year’s Day, they really do come down! I swear! Really! No ornaments will be discovered with decorated eggs!
So, with this being the Saturday before, I’ve already started straightening up the living room / warehouse to make room for all the decorations, and I’ve even bought a couple new items for this year’s Yule Diorama, which is my version of the Nativity Scene; I have a wolf and a moose to add! I have such fond memories of playing with the cast of characters as a kid, so I restructured the scene to more accurately reflect my Pagan beliefs.
My husband said if I keep adding onto it, that by the time our son has his own kids, my little “manger scene” is going to take up a whole wall! And since almost all of the pieces in my Yule Diorama were originally intended to be children’s playthings, as opposed to being delicate, hand painted porcelain religious icons to be admired and not touched, I happily welcome the thought of having that wall of critters and magickal creatures readily available for my future grandchildren.
We also break another tradition of throwing ourselves into bankruptcy over buying the biggest and best gifts for extended family and ourselves. My husband’s family is huge, and their tradition is that everyone buys everyone a gift. When his sisters, their husbands, their children and now, their children’s husbands and children are factored in, even token five dollar gifts can easily jack up to over a thousand dollars!
So, in order to still manage to give something to everyone, I also invest a full day of cookie baking, with at least four varieties and a dozen cookies per gift bag. (Yes, that’s a LOT of flour and sugar, but soooo good!) Okay, so we end up looking like cheapskates to some of our wealthier family members, especially when the gifts we get in exchange are pretty darn sweet, but I am at least trying to convey the message we do care and hopefully one day, someone will do the math and realize just how much work and love was put into them all. If anything, I got to make my home smell delicious and was able to sprinkle a little magick into their tummies!
Now, one tradition I have retained intact from childhood is to add at least one new ornament for the tree. For at least the last decade, I’ve been desperately searching for a blue Santa, more like a Father Christmas than the Coca-Cola image people are mostly familiar with, because somehow, it just feel ‘right’, for lack of a better term. Our tree is very Pagan-ish, but without being blatant or tacky about it, and I feel it reflects our faith as a whole. So, to find that special Santa would be such a wonderful addition to all the birds, bells, stars, icicles, snowflakes and winter woodland creatures that currently adorn our happy little tree, and it would just plain make me happy.
Here’s the way I see it:
Yes, we’re Pagan, yes we celebrate Yule, but yes, we also open presents on Christmas and have no problem calling them Christmas presents. Sure, we also open a special gift at Yule, but just like any religiously blended family, that’s another perk: more presents for the holidays! But no, we do not send out cards that say “Merry Christmas!” on them, unless we specifically know the recipients celebrate the holiday as such.
Oh, and no – I wouldn’t be offended if you or anyone else were to wish me a “Merry Christmas”. I know a couple times, people have tap-danced around that term, and it always came off as rather awkward, even in email form. I was able to just sense that fumbling around with a half-hearted, generic “Happy Holidays”, and to me, it just took away from the gesture.
Now, while I honestly do appreciate that extra effort, the sentiment is all the same to me, so I kindly ask my friends and family to just say whatever comes to mind. It’s not necessary with us. We always appreciate the sincere wishes, in all its guises. I’m a vegetarian too; as just the same, I’m not out to inconvenience anyone when what he or she gives me is out of love (I’ll just stick with the sides!)
So in closing, I wish a Merry Christmas to you, a Blessed Solstice, a Happy Yuletide, a Happy Hanukkah, a Happy Kwanzaa, a Happy Boxing Day and a thousand other ways to wish you a wonderful holiday, however you wish to call and celebrate it!
PS. Pssst! So hey – if anyone comes across a blue Santa ornament, would you kindly let me know where to find it? :) I’d really like to start a new quest!
Yule Diorama: http://pagan-wiccan-practice.suite101.com/article.cfm/the_pagan_nativity_scene