My taste in Christmas is like my taste in cookbooks - comfortably vintage. I love the images of 1940s and 1950s families kneeling reverently together in church pews, gathered around tastefully decorated Christmas trees in front of the fireplace, and eating Christmas dinner. To me, these idealized pictures represent the perfect marriage of secular and religious traditions. I've heard it said that the 1950s were the golden age of Catholicism in America, and though I'd like to think we're headed towards another, even better one, I can't really argue there. Religion was just an accepted part of day-to-day life, and being Catholic was becoming a more acceptable part of that. Christmas, therefore, was still undeniably a religious holiday, even as the secular elements were becoming more well-defined.
Wondering what all this has to do with thankfulness? Well, this week, I am first and foremost grateful for the opportunity to build Christmas traditions as a family. As Catholic Americans, we have a wide variety of traditions to incorporate and cultivate into our holiday season. While some of these might seem better saved until the girls are old enough to understand, I figure that we can take pictures of them now (and practice to get them just right!) to preserve the memories for years to come. Remembering the true reason for Christmas is foremost in our celebration, and we attend Mass on Christmas Eve and sometimes on Christmas morning as well. We also mark the tradition of Advent as preparation for the celebration of Christ's birth, and the Twelve Days of Christmas leading up to Epiphany, when the three wise men reached the manger where the infant Christ lay. I won't go into more detail about Christmas traditions today, because I am planning a longer post for later, but feel free to share your traditions in the comments along with what you're thankful for!
I'm also very thankful for the opportunity to spend time with my family over the Thanksgiving holiday. I am at a loss as to why the need to shop has so overtaken Thanksgiving day itself. Stores are opening for Black Friday shopping on Thanksgiving Day now, leaving employees just a few hours to celebrate with their families. While there will always be those who need to work on holidays (doctors, nurses, firemen, police officers), the majority of establishments could be closed to observe most or all of the holiday. Dan has worked on Thanksgiving Day in the past, and I am very thankful that both of us have the day to spend with Emily and Erin and our families this year. Let's pray that this is the case for more families next year, and we can look back on this as a foolish phase!
Other things I am thankful for this week:
1. God's love, mercy, and all the blessings in our lives, including food, shelter, and warm clothes that fit.
2. The love, support, and companionship of marriage, and the ability to grow continually within marriage to better meet each other's needs.
3. My loving husband.
4. Our beautiful baby daughters, who continue to amaze each day as they grow and learn.
5. The loving support of our family and friends.
6. Those who have served and those who are serving our country, especially those who sacrificed life and limb for the freedoms we so often take for granted.
7. Nice, hot cups of coffee with yummy vanilla creamer.
8. Gainful employment for both Dan and me.
9. A few last sunny fall days.
10. Hot showers (even if I don't get one every day!)
That's my list - what are you thankful for this week? Share below in the comments or write a post of your own for the link-up!