We've been "keeping Christmas" here (translate: "keeping too busy to blog") so rather than talk about it, we've been celebrating and visiting friends (with a bit of work sprinkled in, just to keep me from becoming a slug.)
But I wanted to take a moment out to share some ideas on keeping the Twelve Days.
When we first started doing some of these things, my kids noticed that much of the world was dismantling Christmas Joy just as we were picking up speed. I told them (repeatedly, because that's a mother's job), "It's a shame the whole world doesn't realize that the Christmas season is just beginning! They don't know all the fun they're missing!" The
- Keep your tree up until the Feast of the Epiphany, of course
- Read with the kids about the twelve days
- Keep watching Christmas shows and movies, continue reading Christmas books
- Post prayers for the season (I put them up on the wall in our kitchen -- our page of prayer intentions for the Christmas season is accented with glitter. One can never have too much glitter)
- Send Christmas greetings during the 12 days ... and don't apologize for it -- it's the Christmas season! Mine went out yesterday and today
- Observe the Epiphany -- have a Twelfth Night party, or make Kings' bread (the St. Lucia bread works well, or perhaps make a "King Cake" -- Google it for endless possibilities. Other ideas are here at Catholic Cuisine)
- Give Epiphany gifts (as large or small as you want them to be)
- Have the wise men from your Nativity set travel through the house during the 12 days, making their way to the stable
- We always make our gingerbread houses (Santa leaves kits) during the Twelve Days
I just found this page at Catholic Culture. You can click on each day of the Twelve Days for a new activity and recipe.
In keeping with the "No Panic" philosophy, don't try to incorporate twenty-seven new things into a twelve day period. Pick a couple, and put the rest in the file.
If you have other ideas to share, please leave them in the comments, and I'll add to them to this post.
12/31/08: Edited to add ideas:
From Sarah, who inspired this post:
I have some friends whose kids open one gift a day for each of the 12 days, some gifts are larger and some are very small like what might be used as a stocking stuffer. We're considering that for next year. We read The Three Wise Kings by Tomie de Paola a few weeks ago and I'm planning to pull it check it out from the library again to read this week.
We read all our Christmas books and bake a festive cookie every other day or so (instead of all at once like I used to do.) We read The Legend of Old Befana on January 5th and make pizzelles on Epiphany. That's the only thing set in stone. I also finally found the frankincense and myrrh incense I bought last year. Lucy's conveniently learning "We Three Kings" on piano.
Our priest was talking about the peace of Christ on Christmas Eve. I've always hoped for a peaceful Advent and it struck me as very fitting that night that that peace I've longed for arrives the very moment we gather to celebrate Christ's birth and is very tangible throughout the Christmas season.
from Margaret in Minnesota:
We keep the season by talking about the 12 Days of Christmas--specifically, the Christian symbolism of each of the days. And we don't sweat the "small" stuff, like getting cards and presents out "on time". As my dear friend Sarah puts it, we're supposed to be living Christmas every day.
1/5/09 -- More ideas:
My friend, Mary P. writes: "I bought an Advent box at Starbucks. Behind each door was a piece of candy. Why not make one for the 12 days of Christmas? I think I know somebody that would like chocolate each day."
from the comments:
Amy says: "My kids were thrilled to get a little bag with their own kid-friendly versions of gold (chocolate coins), frankincense (scratch-n-sniff stickers), and myrrh (bubble bath)."
Connie's Daughter says: "You know, Karen, the Christmas Season goes until the feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, which this year is on Jan. 11th. We usually keep our tree up until then, and we have lots of treats throughout the entire time, ice cream being our favorite. :) And even though the world has moved on, I continue to wear my Christmas sweaters and earrings and socks. Our Nativity set is still being lit each night in our yard, too!"