Mr. Honey and I decided to skip the stress and cost and rush of purchasing gifts this year and go homemade with our Christmas, the only rules being that if we give it, it must be made by one of us using a limited amount of money for supplies; and we cannot force this change on any of our extended family.
(They wouldn't let us if we tried, lol!)
And since I cannot have you thinking my little family is blessed with superior virtue, I must reveal that a family trip has cleaned out the ol' Christmas fund-- we are making gifts simply to keep from perpetuating debt. We were a little depressed at first, but now that we are getting into the spirit of the thing, it is quite fun! I have all kinds of plans in my head, and projects going on in secret, which I really want to show you all, but I have to wait until after Christmas because my family reads my blog. What is really going to suffer this Christmas is the housekeeping, because we are going to use all our spare time in making gifts, lol! So if you come over, please ignore the dust. We'll try to keep the lights low so as to make it less noticeable. ;o)
Well, last week we were at the library picking up some things, and as I looked through the Christmas stacks I found some World Books that detail Christmas in other lands-- the traditions, the history, the music, the crafts, the food. What a gold mine!
(Do you remember the World Book Encyclopedias and Annuals? I relished our family's set as a kid, in those dark ages before Internet research.)
I just finished Christmas in Britain, which was even more interesting to me in light of what Triss is studying for history (ancient/medieval Britain). And Mariel and I read about the reign of Cromwell last year, but I hadn't thought about what a dampening effect the Protectorate must have had on celebrating anything, especially Christmas. And did you know Dickens had a lot of positive influence on Christmas once the Cromwellian years had blown by?
I started Christmas in Scotland last night, which is mainly about Hogmanay, their New Year's celebration. They moved their festivities from Christmas to New Year's during the time of the Covenanters-- those folks forbade (forbad?) Christmas as Cromwell did, for a lot of the same reasons. The Scots gradually turned their winter festivities from religious celebrations to secular, and now they have Hogmanay.
I'm really glad we don't live in a place where Christmas is forbidden. I know some Christmas festivities have their roots in pagan festivals, and I am not one to follow customs blindly; but I hope the traditions we indulge in are brief illuminations of the joy and goodwill that ought to be a part of the Christian life daily, and that our Christmas is just a special way to remind ourselves to "reflect redemption" in our everyday lives. (The Year of Jubilee Is Come, after all, and we do well to remember it.) The glow of it tends to linger and have an influence at our house for at least a couple of months after.
I only grabbed three of these books, the last being Christmas in France. These are the three countries, aside from the United States, that we currently read the most about in history at our house. After we are done with these three books, I'm going to get some of the others. There was a shelf full.
I find that reading about the traditions of the countries we have been studying is really bringing home the daily influence of historic events on the lives of these people. It is so easy to view history as a list of dates and battles. Reading about different historic events and their effects on the celebration of Christmas really illustrates for me the pervading influence of history on the lives and customs of regular people and its lingering effect on folks today.