Life is so busy this time of year. Even when we try to simplify and pare down what we give, how we decorate, all that, it still seems that the Christmas and Advent season surprise us and we’re not ready.

At least that’s how I feel. I know that I should think about doing some shopping throughout the year, buying little gifts for people whenever I think about them or when I see something they like, but I never do that.

I never put food in the freezer for the holidays, nor do I do baking ahead of time.

However, Christmas always seems to work out. People never complain about the gifts I COULD have bought them if I’d thought about it. No one every notices that I didn’t decorate the way I wanted to.

Christmas is not about all that stuff anyway. It’s, of course, about the birth of our Saviour and our family remembers that, or at least tries to keep that upper most in our thoughts this time of year.

My father was Danish and my birth family had the tradition of opening “family” gifts on Christmas Eve. Daddy always read the Christmas story from Luke before we opened the gifts. Christmas morning was for Santa presents and going to my mother’s parents’ house for the big family gathering.

When Beloved and I were dating and we had our first Christmas as a couple, we spent it, of course, with his family (he was living with them). We went to my family later, but on Christmas Eve I missed opening up the gifts and as Beloved’s mother is Norwegian and HER mother was living with them, I appealed to her, asking if they didn’t open presents on Christmas Eve.

She said they did and my future father-in-law gave in and now we open ONE gift on Christmas Eve. Beloved took the tradition of reading the Christmas story and added to it. On Christmas Eve he reads from Isaiah 53, the prophecy about the suffering servant. Then, if possible, we go to Midnight Mass. I LOVE Midnight Mass.

On Christmas morning, we open gifts and have Julekake (a Scandinavian sweet bread). Beloved’s grandmother made it and I love it. Now that she’s gone and my in-laws usually travel down here, I make it. This year, we’re going to have, in addition to the bread, Jule-waffles. I’m going to try to add the candied fruit and cardamom to waffles and see how it turns out!

What are your traditions? How do you keep the true meaning of Christmas alive?