December 14 … a stop on the Virtual Advent Tour

December 13, 2010 § 20 Comments

 The Virtual Advent tour first started five years ago when Kailana of The Written Word and Marg at Adventures of an Intrepid Reader wondered why the kids should have all the fun of opening a box on the advent calendar and finding a treat in there, and how could they create some blogging fun with a similar concept? So the Virtual Advent tour was born.

Each day participants take turns sharing a treat with friends here in blogland. Maybe it’s about family traditions, recipes, a country’s holiday traditions, or a favourite Christmas memory, movie, book, song…anything. In fact, it’s for all holidays celebrated this time of year. Click on the Reindeer Tag to the right to see other wonderful sites to visit during this blog-ventful tour!

Herein a bit about some of our family traditions from the sentimental to the sublime.

1)  Reading aloud A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Dickens has been a family tradition for more than 17 years, from when Snarl was 4 and Nor,9.  It began when we moved to STL.  We’d begin after Thanksgiving, cozied around the fireplace, HM and I taking turns reading. And then Nor wanted to participate.  Snarl , always opting for parity, caught on by the third year in part because he’d already memorized some of it. But his “fake” reading turned to real reading right before our eyes. Thank you, Mr. Dickens, for growing a story that wraps up a family in holiday meaning and spirit from Stave I to Stave 3’s last famous line  “And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!”

2) Decorating the mantle. I didn’t realize ’til just this evening what a tradition this is. I was going for “elegant” this year, sort of “stripped  down”  in terms of appearance, using only white and gold, more of a designer look. It didn’t work. I found it cold.
So I’ve gone back, popped the lights onto the mantle, and added the lovely flotsam and jetsma of Xmases past and present that makes it warmer. Spirited. Maybe romantic.

3) We also WATCH Dickens’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Yes, we read it, but we also watch it. OK, sometimes it’s on as background, but it’s there.We did, during the VHS era, own every version at that time. Now in DVD world, we are once again working the collection though  we are all, oddly, loathe to add the Jim Carey version. Haven’t fallen in love with that one yet..

And this is the time of year we refer to HM as “Fezziwig.” It’s his innate merriness and willingness to set aside the mundane and celebrate the season. And he specializes at pouring the ‘nog and setting out trays of nibblies.

4)  These are not in order. I forgot to mention Black Friday when Nor and I head out early to the stores. We go without lists; we go to stroll, see what strikes us, observe, get ideas and enjoy. We might buy a new Christmas decoration or jigsaw puzzle. We might stumble across the perfect gift for someone.Then we go out to breakfast.

5) Wreathmaking! We take a “class” yearly at the Botanical Garden where you show up looking a little holiday-ish if you like and are given everything needed, along with a lesson and tips on creating a gorgeous all-natural wreath.  This year, needing to attend a weeknight rather than weekend class, we were out in the proverbial “middle of nowhere” at one of MoBot’s locales, at a hunting lodge. It was like something out of a movie, lit inside with Christmas lights, smelling of pine and fir, a huge table to work at and buckets of natural branches and grasses to use in our wreaths. And at one point during the evening, 30 strangers making wreaths burst into song. Loved it. We took my Mom this year as well. (see why we call HM “Fezziwig?”)

6) Concerts at the Cathedral have long been a family fave but our beloved Cathedral music director recently moved to Philly (much to his good professional fortune) and so we have turned elsewhere for finding Christmas music and entertainment. But there will be at least once if not several trips to the Cathedral nonetheless.

I don’t intend to bore or cause a snore; yet I could stitch together more little stories, so many  moments about setting up our creche and missing the shepherd who must have wandered off; of hanging up the stockings and trying to figure out whose is whose; of  inadvertently opening the wrong window on the advent calendar and having to then swtich places or lose a turn in line; of staying up to wrap and seeing the Christmas Eve service in Rome…
That is the blessed things about each family, right? There are so many things, so many expressions and phrases, so many foods and fun things that happen year long and then whoosh, it’s Christmas when every loving detail is heightened, and everything takes on that rich friends-and-family patina, that shine of love.

To you and yours, a very Merry Christmas!
To you and yours, the happiest of Holidays!



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§ 20 Responses to December 14 … a stop on the Virtual Advent Tour

  • litlove says:

    This is all so charming – what a wonderful time must be had by all in your house at Christmas. And I just have to say how utterly adorable your mother looks – what a sweetie!

  • I am a bit embarassed to admit that I have never read “A Christmas Carol”… Yikes. I should probably remedy that, right? I bet it’s available for free on my Nook…

    When I was a child, our Advent tradition was to gather as a family each night, light the appropriate # of candles on the Advent wreath, and sing Christmas Carols. I miss this tradition.

    • oh says:

      Dear LL – you are so kind to stop by. I’ve been off line in blog world for nearly a week and return to fnd your note. Yes, Mom is a sweetie and always game to try new things (for which we are fortunate!) Honestly, I wish we could shut down the 8-5 workwee ’til the New Year….ah, but part of the Holiday is regaining one’s child-like view of things, right? So I’ll go to work and see if I can “work” in doing some Christmas stuff, too.

      Lisa! You have a Nook!!!!!!!!!!! Yes, yes, read the Christmas Carol – you can do it in one fell swoop. You’ll love the language and the way Dickens includes the Reader often.
      And like you, we used to light the ADvent wreath. And like you, I miss it. I should be doing it. I could at least get the creche out of the box and set it up. I will.

  • sprite says:

    I agree that your mantle is quite romantic the way it is. Merry Christmas!

  • aubrey says:

    I read ‘A Christmas Carol’ for the first time only a couple of weeks ago!

    My traditions gather around ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales’. Every year, starting a week or two before Christmas I must do 3 things: read the book, listen to Dylan Thomas reciting his story and watch the 1987 serialization of the story, featuring Denholm Elliot. (It is exquisite)

    • oh says:

      Thanks, Sprite! And you know what? I’ve reworked the mantel once again! Will post a picture later.

      Aubrey Aubrey Aubrey – thank you thank you thank you! I had forgotten about the Thomas piece and I DO have the CD and after reading your ntoe, went immediately in search of it and found it and have been playing it all day. OMG, I LOVE his language. I’ll listen to it again on the way to work tomorrow and it will lighten teh workday. Merry merry merry Christmas!!!!!

  • Caroline says:

    Wonderful traditions, I enjoyed reading this a lot. Your mantel is very pretty. I read a Christmas Carol a couple of yeras ago for the first time and liked it a lot and enjpy discovering a new versio of the movie every other year. Thanks for your post.

  • Julia Smith says:

    I love your Dickens take on the holidays, down to nicknaming that one guy Fezziwig! My favorite version of A Christmas Carol is the 84 version with George C. Scott and Roger Rees. But I also adore the 99 version with Patrick Stewart and Richard E. Grant.

    • oh says:

      Caroline – Thanks for stopping by!So glad you enjoy Dickens as well. There are tons of new modern holiday movies but Dickoens still rules in terms of language and images.

      Hi, Julia – So glad you stopped by! And I agree that the GC Scott version of the movie is an excellent one. Scott made such a fine Scrooge; he had the gravitas needed to pull it off. But then Stewart has the accent and the native understanding of Dickens’wording and vocab. Yes – both are favorites! Merry Christmas!

  • shoreacres says:

    Just lovely – I saw from a recent comment that you’d been wreath-making! (Hmmmm… a Fezziwig sighting on your blog? I thought so.)

    But you know, one of your traditions got only a passing mention – the jigsaw puzzle putting-together. I’ve had a photo of last January’s puzzle in my files for a year, thinking about it. I went back over this morning and took another look at your post – what fun!

  • Nora says:

    This totally made me cry, mom. I love our traditions and our family so much. Blessed to be able to share it with you every year. <3.

    • oh says:

      Dear Shore – oh, you made me smile and laugh that you would remember the jigsaw puzzle post and go back and look at it.You are the best commenter/rememberer/blogger ever! And I hope you’re having a gorgeous holiday to date.

      Nora – And we are blessed to have you. All of you are so easy to write about and so much fun.

  • kaye says:

    Merry Christmas to you too and enjoy all your traditions. Looks like you know how to have a good time.

  • leeswammes says:

    That’s a great tradition, to read A Christmas Carol. It’s a good story because it’s suitable for children too.

    I don’t think designer Christmasses work all that well, it’ll never become festive and friendly. Glad you changed your mantle!

    • oh says:

      Dear Kaye – thank you for stopping by! I hope to have lots of time to post during the next few days after being absent due to projects and deadlines.
      More pictures, coming soon! I will be over to visit you as well!

      Hello Leeswammes! You’re right – “designer” decorations are not friendly. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but that’s exactly the difference. I also added some lights and I think I’ve got it right. More pictures to follow!

  • jeanie says:

    Well, as I take a quiet and sneaky foray into checking blogs during work (Bad Jeanie, BAD!), let me say it is not only lovely to be back, but to arrive on such a perfect post. I’m sure you’ll believe me when I say I haven’t visited a blog since December 4, what with traveling, and then returning home to chaos at work. How I would have loved to have done the Advent Tour. As is, I’ve been pre-posted, though new things will come soon. I realized I haven’t done hardly a single holiday thing!

    Your traditions are the best. The mantle is beautiful. I think far more so than with white and gold! I envy your holiday movie watching — I’ve not yet had a chance to watch my favorite holiday movies, but perhaps soon. Better be!

    More later my friend. A wee giftie is going in the mail to you soon, but I fear it may not arrive till after the 25th. Well, the season does extend until 12th night!

  • One of my favorite lines in all literature comes from “A Christmas Carol” where Dickens tells us he is at my elbow while I read….so evocative of the eternal nature of great literature. If your house is like mine (and I bet it is), you have several different versions of this great book. My family reads it aloud each year. Even our post-collegiate children sit for this reading and take turns with expressive dramatizations of their selected passages.
    “God bless us everyone!”

  • mandy says:

    Your family’s holiday traditions sound like so much fun. My family is big on tradition too and its moments like those that make the holiday so special. I haven’t read A Christmas Carol in years, like Lisa, I should go back and reread it. Your wreath making class sounds like quite an adventure! Hope you a finding moments to enjoy this holiday season.

  • Ruth says:

    Oh I love Mr. Fezziwig, and wreaths, and kids learning to read with traditions. So much Fezziwigness going around, and I keep getting merrier.

    Merry Christmas to you, my friend!

  • boliyou says:

    Such nice traditions! Very cosy and home-y. A very Merry Christmas to you all.

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