10th Day Of Christmas: Traditions

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about family traditions centered around the holidays. Now that all three of us kids are grown, we’re kind of at that in between stage where a lot of our childhood, as a family, traditions have fallen by the wayside. None of us are yet married or have had children. We’re not quite….you know, established.

This, of course, got me to think about Channing and our future. Our future children, our lives, our pets, our home. I decided to start a running list of family traditions I’d like my future (and current) family to adopt. The below traditions come from various sources. Some may have been from my own childhood memories, TV shows and movies, or just things I never have done and always wanted to do. They are in no particular order of importance but I thought it’d be a fun thing to start and have as a reference down the line.

  • Dinner Wear: At the dinner table whether it be our immediate family or extended, everyone will have a special something to wear during dinner placed on their plates. It might be a nice pair of earrings, reindeer antlers, or light up glasses. Who knows. Whatever it is, it’ll be a fun and not so “stuffy” Christmas dinner.
  • ‘Tis The Night Before Christmas Box: My dad always tried to have us open our Christmas gifts on Christmas Day but every year, it seemed like we opened a lot of them on Christmas Eve (if not earlier) and then Santa’s gifts on Christmas Day. I’d like to go back to the traditional Christmas Day gift opening. However, I think it would be a memorable tradition to let everyone open a “‘Tis The Night Before Christmas Box.” Inside it would include a similar arrangement of Christmas Eve goodies each year. A new pair of jammies, slippers, a Christmas mug, hot chocolate (and marshmallows of course!), and maybe a Christmas surprise like a movie or family game.
  • Trim The Tree: I know it sounds cliche and actually most of these probably do but I want my family to trim the tree together. Anyone who’s anyone knows that decorating for Christmas can be both fun and exhausting so why not create as much joy as possible? I don’t care who helps or how it’s done but as long as our family can decorate our tree together, I’ll be happy.
  • Christmas Classics: There are too many Christmas shows and movies to name when it comes to squeezing them all in during the holiday season. A few of my favorites and some that I actually have not seen yet must make the list each year at some point between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. I’ve listed a few: Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, Mickey’s Christmas Carol, Miracle on 34th Street, Frosty The Snowman, It’s A Wonderful Life, Scrooge… There are so many I can’t even remember but you get the idea.
  • Skating: This is more of a winter thing and actually Channing has yet to learn how to skate but I would like to, as a family, go on a skating outing each holiday season. Maybe it’s the Lifetime movies talking but something about skating makes Christmas seem so much more magical.
  • Christmas Lights: Drive around and look at Christmas lights around the area. I don’t think I’ll ever have the patience to decorate the outside of my house as wonderful as some do so why not make it a tradition to admire someone else’s handy work?
  • Music: I love Christmas music. When I was in high school and worked at K-Mart, I would have told you a different story but now that I’m in the real grown up life of a world, Christmas music is so refreshing and comforting. It reminds me of so many things from Christmas mass to Grandmas Rita’s house.
  • And that brings me to…Midnight Mass: This one is still up in the air. I was raised Catholic and still value much of what I was taught. Being raised with religion as background noise gave me a solid moral compass and I am forever grateful. However, since being confirmed in 11th grade and going out into the world, organized religion has been put on the back-burner. Although the memories that I had were ones of great importance and the traditions my faith stood by mean a lot to me – there is far more that is hard to understand and accept. I believe in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit but I don’t believe that God discriminates. I won’t go further on that topic at the moment but I often wonder if I can raise my children to have a spiritual connection with God (or whoever) by not bringing them up in church. Midnight Mass was the highlight of my Christmas season when I was younger. The smells, the music, the ambiance. It was magic. Or maybe it was just the beauty of the Warroad church and it was way past my bedtime. Who knows.

This post is getting awfully lengthy. There are many more traditions I’m sure I’ve left out. I plan to send out Christmas cards every year, teach my children the importance of giving rather than receiving, and to binge watch Lifetime movies. I plan to show up and embarrass them at their Christmas school concerts and build snowmen and women outside. I plan to take a yearly trip to the Bunny Hill in Warroad and to visit family no matter how far.

If you have any fun or memorable family traditions, I’d love to hear about them!! And Merry Christmas Eve Eve!

Christmas In July.

10488215_10152518733063363_7056823897675192397_nI wanted to post some of my favorite pictures from the holiday weekend. Or, week I should say. The last Sunday in June through July 3rd, we stayed at a quaint little Catholic bible resort through the Diocese of Crookston. I’m assuming the Diocese has camps for kids that run throughout the summer based off of all the hand-written and carved names in the lodge. But for this 4-day getaway, it was reserved for our extended family only. No one else.

10442440_10152518723093363_715589565184503715_nUnfortunately the first two days were filled with chilly off and on rainy weather. It definitely got everyone’s spirits down because for most of us, it’s the only time that we’ll get a vacation in the calendar year. I’d like to say that we made the most of it, which we did, but we definitely got restless watching the white caps form on the little lake knowing that it was too rough for canoes and too cold to swim.
10446556_10152518802578363_3928342290805872018_nWednesday came as soon as it could. The weather let up and the real fun began! Fishing, swimming, driving a boat for the first time, finding out that I possess zero sense of balance in a canoe, laughing, scavenger hunts, s’mores…the list goes on.

Thursday we packed up and headed down the twisty road to Lake Itasca. We mosied our way through the biggest state park that I’ve ever been to. Checked out the beach, visited a pioneer cemetery and crossed the Mississippi Headwaters. It was really beautiful and peaceful.

10400844_10152518740063363_8975642485060600810_nFriday we traveled a bit further to Bemidji to see C’s sisters and nephew. The town had a carnival going on for the 4th of July. I can definitely tell that I’ve grown up and slightly outgrown the fair scene. I still like it. I love hearing the kids laughing and the rides spinning. I still laugh when the carny’s attempt to sweet talk you into playing a game. But man oh man, I don’t miss the crowd. I don’t miss the push and shove and the nasty looks if you’re in the way. When we were younger we must have been too excited to notice the amount of people crowded into such a small dirty area.

10418425_10152518751188363_6484200687791014883_nSeeing C’s nephew was an absolute delight. He’s 3 1/2 now and hilarious as can be. We watched the fireworks right on shore of Lake Bemidji. They were beautiful and he loved the heck out of them!

I won’t bore you with much more. I kind of just wanted to mention the highlights of our trip because memories so quickly become forgotten. I hope you had a happy 4th with friends and family.

Follow me on Vine to see a few 6-second videos from our trip @orianoelle!

The Easter Season.

In case you’ve been sleeping under a rock or you haven’t noticed that fish fry season has officially started, today marks the beginning of Lent. I’m not much on religious politics so I ignorantly have no idea if any other religions besides the Catholic Church participate in the observance. I would assume that most Christian foundations follow it in one way or another but that’s another topic that I’m not really interested in diving into right now.

Lent quote from Pope Francis 2014

When I was young, we were always asked what we were going to “give up” for Lent. Our answers would always be nearly the same. No pop or candy. If our parents were lucky, we’d say no TV but God himself only knows that wasn’t going to last. Not until I was in Junior High did someone ask me what I was going to “do” for Lent as in “do more of.” Until that 7th grade year of religious education, I, as a brand name obsessed tween, didn’t know that I had the choice! In my adolescent brain I’m sure I was thrilled knowing that as long as I could promise to be kinder to my brothers or take the garbage out without my mom asking that I’d be doing good for the Lenten season.

As I’ve gotten older though, I’ve come to a split realization. To some, it’s almost like a do-over for the New Years resolutions that we flopped on by January 5th. We decide to do or give up something ridiculous and it lasts until the 2nd or 3rd fish fry. And on the other hand, I see that people actually do make a point of doing their best. In the world we live in, although it’d be ideal, it’s harder than ever to actually unplug or quit cold turkey on caffeine. It’s much “easier” for lack of a better term to do more. To be better. To contribute.

Ash-Wednesday-cross

The Easter season as I refer to it, is my favorite time of the year. Although I haven’t really been involved in the Catholic community since the day I was confirmed, it still is the foundation for many of the morals and memories that I hold dear to my heart. My favorite days out of the entire Catholic year were always Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday.

I don’t know if it was ambiance of Ash Wednesday or what but I always felt a sense of calmness. Walking into church at 5:00 PM on that Wednesday every year made me feel free and sinless. It made me forget about the mean kids in school or the fights with my brothers. It made me forget missing my dad because of his job or watching my mom try to breathe through the pains in the asses that we were as kids. Ash Wednesday was peaceful. From the moment we walked in and sat in the pews to the sign of the cross on our foreheads, I was reminded that there is a Father, a Son, and a Holy Spirit. I miss that.

palm sunday crafts

And Palm Sunday, it’s the best isn’t it? I have only ever celebrated Palm Sunday in the basement of Sacred Heart in Roseau, MN except for the three years during my confirmation. The entire congregation would gather in the basement. Every single person there would receive their palms. I always wanted to be in the front so I could be hit with whatever it was in that water shaker. I always felt that whoever got wet were the ones that were the most blessed. After the moments of prayer and worship my mom would always show us how to braid our palms. We’d usually braid them into crosses or hearts. They’d be kept with us or sometimes on the calendar or near the mirror at home. To this day whenever I see a palm, I’m reminded of the happiness that the Easter season brings.

I don’t often think of the Lenten season to be one where Jesus fasted in the desert for 40 days and nights. I think it’s because although he sacrificed so many things for us; that we’ve always been reminded to be grateful and happy with our life. To not dwell on the hardships of the past and instead to celebrate a new future.

Reflecting back on what I’ve written and remembering some pretty special moments in my past; I know that when I have babies of my own that I will raise them with an education in religion. I’m not sure what or where it will come from. I’m not sure if we will be regular church go-ers or dive into all realms of the religions around the world but I do know one thing; I will share the kindness and importance that Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday hold in my heart.

Happy 40 Days, everyone.

God Loves Us Just The Same I Figure.

I overheard a conversation about churches, religion, and it’s relation to dress code today. At first, I almost had a “no way” moment but upon analyzing the situation; I’ve found myself thinking about it all day. To be clear – I wasn’t a part of the conversation but in such a small office space, anything that anyone talks about is open to all ears so of course mine were peaked.

The two women were talking about the churches they attend or have attended in town here and elsewhere. They were discussing the strictness and leniency of the dress codes. On Wednesday nights – it appears – is no big deal. I don’t know if they actually have mass on Wednesdays or if it’s the same as when I was in school and we just had Wednesday night religious ed. Regardless, come as you are on Wednesdays I guess. However, on Sunday; it sounds like your ‘Sunday Best’ is a requirement. 

Now, I don’t know if it’s literally a rule per the church, God, or society but I just about had to pick my mouth up off of the floor. Really? A requirement? I pondered this the rest of the day waiting until I could give my mom a call this evening. The women talking were discussing the practices of their Lutheran faith, respectively.

I was born and raised Catholic and per the confirmation of my mom – strictness and Lutheranism don’t really coincide so I was than even more perplexed with that conversation. Growing up Catholic, we were taught many things. Even though I went to Sacred Heart every Sunday, we were the minority in the little ol’ Lutheran town of Roseau. So I’ve been used to the un-christian-like slander my whole life. That’s another story, we’ll save that for later. But I just had to ask my mom: “Did we dress up to go to church?” Turns out we didn’t. If we wanted to wear a sweatshirt and jeans, God didn’t care. We were there, that’s what mattered. We practiced good faith and possessed good morals. Growing up, what we wore on Sunday was never a topic. I think that is the reason that this minuscule overheard conversation rattled my brain a little.

Looking back, I remember certain families that always dressed up. I guess I might have noticed back then but I really only figured that they dressed up to keep up with their image in town. In case you aren’t aware of the quite obvious fact, your status in Roseau, MN is a very important thing and to this day; I think that people put on an invisible mask in order to maintain that said status.

CHURCH2

Sacred Hearth Catholic Church – Roseau, MN

I also figured that the women in dresses, fathers in suits, and little kids with fancy new clothes were just rich. We’d go to church with sopping wet hair making water marks on our backs, shoes untied, and a crying snotty nosed brother in tow. God loved us just the same I figured.

It’s actually pretty crazy that this little conversation I eavesdropped on today would cause me to analyze so many people and years of my life in the church I grew up in. I feel very fortunate that I grew up the way I did. We had a great priest. I retained some of the best life lessons in that little community of a church. All teasing from school during the week disappeared. The music in my head all week was sang and the communion and forgiveness of sins made me feel whole.

Once we left Roseau, I began to slip away from the Catholic faith. Although, I still credit many Catholic beliefs to my upbringing; I don’t necessarily agree with certain areas of the faith now. Between the combination of the modern church and it’s scandals to my individual growth; I have my own opinions and beliefs. I’ll always acknowledge being born and raised Catholic but when I think of the church, I think of Roseau. It was very welcoming and accepting. There was no “wrong way” to dress. And if there were stares, I was young enough to be oblivious to that but nothing will ever take away from the great memories I had there. 

In conclusion, what is your stance? Have you ever felt that you needed to pull out your Sunday best on the day God rested? Why? Does it matter? Do people only choose to dress up for a social standing? Are you embarrassed of yourself or your family if you don’t? Let’s start the conversation.