Christmas is over and done too soon

By Elisa Tremblay | The Compass | January 2, 2020

Question

By the time Epiphany comes at church, most of our neighbors have already tossed their Christmas trees. How do I explain this feast to my children and make it special for our family? (Green Bay)

Answer

One of the sweetest things about becoming a parent is that you can set your own traditions in your household for the holidays. No doubt, your home is influenced by things both parents grew up with. However, as you start your own family, you also grow your own traditions.

This is true of the Church. We as Catholics live in a way that is meant to be different from the culture that surrounds us. Therefore, we can rely on different traditions to help us live out and understand our faith.

For the church, Christmas season begins with the vigil Masses on Christmas Eve and concludes on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. (This year, that falls on Jan. 12.) As the U.S. bishops’ conference reminds us, “During this season, we celebrate the birth of Christ into our world and into our hearts, and reflect on the gift of salvation that is born with him … including the fact that he was born to die for us.”

How do you explain this to your children, when it seems your home is the only one that stills has your lights up?

The answer: You continue to celebrate. The Christmas season starts on Dec. 24. So, don’t do all the celebrating during Advent, save some planning for after Christmas Day.

  • Host a party during the Christmas season, even close to Epiphany, to continue to celebrate the holiday.
  • Begin new traditions with your children, such as not putting the wise men in the manger scene on Christmas, but having them travel each day across your house.
  • Bake an Epiphany cake with your family and bake little surprises inside.
  • Some families host Twelfth Night parties and many parishes encourage the Epiphany house blessing and give away blessed chalk. See how at stpiusappleton.org/chalkingdoors

All of these are great ways to continue the celebration. This could also be a way to research and blend many of the cultural celebrations of Epiphany from around the world into your home in an effort to teach your children about the universal nature of the church.

While it may seem disheartening to drive down the street on the day after Christmas and see discarded trees, take heart that, in your home, you set the tone and can continue the celebration of Christmas. On a practical level, children rarely complain about getting gifts or sweets, or whatever may come after Christmas. They are usually eager to continue the party. This is an amazing opportunity to teach our families about the joy that surrounds Christ’s coming into our lives, and the important traditions of our faith that each of these feast days commemorates.

 

Tremblay is Marriage and Life Ministries director of the Diocese of Green Bay.

 

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