Trying to fit all of the food and fun of the holidays into two days, Christmas and New Years, can result in exhaustion for Mom (cook and chief event planner), not to mention making kids overfed and cranky. Why not take some ideas from previous generations and spread the celebration over a longer time to have a more relaxed holiday season?
Many churches observe Advent with special ceremonies on the four Sundays prior to Christmas. Attending services can explain “the reason for the season,” and encourage kids and older people to think about the values that holidays represent. Consider having Christmas dinner a few days before Christmas and relax on the big day with a lunch like turkey tacos or ham and cheese casserole made from leftovers.
In most former colonies of the British Empire, gifts are exchanged on December 26, Boxing Day. In the old days, servants received gifts from their employers on the 26th in thanks for a year of service and in gratitude for their help feeding the crowds of visitors on Christmas Day.
English churches had metal boxes to hold money that would be given to poor people. All year, people attending church would drop money into the alms box. On the 26th, the Feast of Saint Stephen, the people would gather to worship and see the priest open the alms box. The money was taken to the poorest families in the parish. December 26 is also the first of seven days of Kwanzaa, and the second day of the Twelve Days of Christmas. The days after Christmas might be a good time to help the less fortunate and to wrap up holiday chores.
Legend claims the Twelve Days of Christmas represents the time the wise men spent searching for baby Jesus. The Chaldeans, who lived in Iraq, employed expert astronomers and believed that groupings of the stars and planets delivered urgent messages. The wise men who traveled to Bethlehem were probably Chaldean astronomers. January 6, called Epiphany, was the day they presented gifts to the Christ child, according to church tradition.
Christmas is not just one day, history shows it was celebrated in one way or another for weeks, so it won’t hurt for a person to pace themselves in order to save their energy and sanity. Christmas is about being thankful. With so many holiday customs mixed into Christmas, there should be something for every taste. Folks enjoy the holidays when they can participate in activities they like and take a rest during the “traditions” that they don’t care for. Christmas is about giving and helping others — don’t forget to help the organizer of your holidays, most likely her name is Mom.

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