As he was going to bed on Christmas night, the Bug said, “Mama, now we don’t have anything to look forward to tomorrow!”
That pretty much sums it up.
All the build-up of Advent is pretty much guaranteed to ensure that Christmas day is somewhat anticlimactic.
We Did Our Best
The boys definitely got more gifts this year than they have previously. Since we’re usually traveling on Christmas, presents have traditionally been kept small.
This year, we had more time to think about it. The present ideas kept accumulating, and knowing that we didn’t have to fit any of them in a suitcase helped to remove almost all restraint.
Luckily, our budget ensured that we didn’t go *too* far overboard.
Presents Alone Don’t Cut It
Yeah, the presents are great. There’s magic in coming down the stairs to find presents piled under the tree where only the evening before there were none.
But I think it’s everything around Christmas, the other traditions and activities, that help to make it special and to make the feeling last through the whole season.
Here are some ways you can make Christmas last a little longer than our modern allotment of 24 hours.
Christmas cookies. Baked ham. Panettone. Or, if you’re feeling ambitious like I was this year, a bûche de Noël (aka a Christmas log cake).
These make the Christmas season so special. In Spain, it’s tradition to eat fish on Christmas Eve (Chico spoiled me thoroughly with a hake and green sauce dish with littleneck clams!).
Then of course there’s Christmas day with all its epicurean delights.
But the pleasures of Christmas food don’t need to end there. Panettone lasts for days, and Christmas cookies can last past Christmas (though they don’t often).
Baked ham makes for great leftovers, and there are other traditional foods to be eaten all throughout the twelve days. I’m looking forward to another spread Chico is planning for New Year’s Eve!
And don’t forget to make a King cake for January 6th! We plan to make a roscón de reyes. Soon we will have to have the perennial debate: stuff it with whipped cream or not?
Yeah, I know you’re probably sick of Christmas music by now. But I’m not talking about cheesy mall Christmas tunes.
There are a lot of beautiful albums inspired by the season, in pretty much every genre. You can go for a cappella, crooners, jazz (a favorite of ours is the Vince Guaraldi Trio’s soundtrack for A Charlie Brown Christmas).
If you’re into classical music, you can enjoy a little Handel. Or even look up traditional Christmas music from other countries and cultures.
In my books, we can listen to Christmas music through Epiphany!
In the States we generally limit gift-giving to Christmas Day. Mostly, it’s because we don’t have the vacation days to celebrate for the entire Christmas season.
But one way to keep the Christmas cheer going for a little longer is to extend the gift-giving over several days. Or you can celebrate Epiphany on January 6th, which is when many cultures exchange their Christmas gifts.
Today is Boxing Day (the feast of Saint Stephen), which was traditionally when landowners would give gifts to their tenants. It was a day for the wealthy to share with those less fortunate.
Today, in the spirit of giving, we took some old shoes, toys and puzzles we have outgrown to donate to a local shelter.
It’s important to do as the song says and “pause in life’s pleasures to count its many tears,” and remember those who aren’t able to enjoy Christmas like we can.
4. Playing Games
Games are a big part of Christmas celebrations around the world. Yesterday we enjoyed a couple rousing rounds of Funny Bunny–always a kid pleaser.
The boys got several new games for Christmas, and throughout the season we’ll take time to play them as a family.
Charades or Celebrity are great games for get-togethers, and Chico and I have had success playing them over House Party calls.
If your household isn’t big into games, maybe the festive season is the right time to try a few. So long as you can avoid arguments. Always a danger when it comes to games…
5. Lights & Decorations
Darn it, I’m keeping these decorations up until Epiphany (or until the very last minute for when our HOA is offering tree pick-up).
Having the extra lights in this darkest time of the year is really cheering. The decorations make the house feel cozy and inviting.
Since we’re spending so much time at home, I say the cozier the better.
The Magic of Christmas
It doesn’t have to end too quickly. I’m going to continue to advocate for celebrating right until the very last day.
After the dumpster fire of a year this has been, I think we could all use some extended partying.