I do love this time of year!
Yesterday was Sankt Nikolaus, and being German, that means I sneak out of bed late at night and stuff everybody's boots with lots of chocolates, nuts, oranges and other gifts. This is one of my favorite parts of this time of year, with baking, crafting, and Christmas music, but mostly I love just "hanging" with my family & dear friends.
Here in Alaska we use some pretty serious boots this time of year, which is handy for getting lots of Sankt Nikolaus loot: our kids are savvy and take the felt boot liners out on Nikolaus-Eve, to maximize the haul!
Sankt Nikolaus is when I really start getting into the spirit of the Advent season -- yesterday we got our Christmas tree, put some Christmas CDs on the stereo and started hauling the decorations out from the basement. It's wonderful to watch the kids re-discovering and reminiscing as they unpack nutcrackers and ornaments they made in Kindergarten!
Yesterday, as we all sat around the tree, sharing memories, the kids asked their dad about his memories, and were surprised to hear how different his childhood experiences were from their own. His own dad died of cancer when he was 4, right around the the holidays, and sadness was forever intricately associated with Christmas-time -- I'm sure his mother had a difficult time for many years after, especially around the holidays...
Not everybody loves the holidays -- in fact, some detest it. Children of divorce often find this time of year very stressful -- everything from making a craft and school and having to decide which parent should get it (how cruel is that!-- teachers, please let them make 2!!!), to having the holiday itself split up, feeling torn apart between two parents.
For years I watched my Eldest, a child of divorce, stress over Christmas, and there was little I could do for her other than to try to provide as calm an environment as possible at home. My wish for her is PEACE & JOY, but especially inner PEACE. That is also my wish to all children of families affected by tragedies such as divorce, illness or death. Hang in there, and don't feel there's something "wrong" with you for not being full of holiday cheer!