All of the pre-Christmas madness came to a grinding halt this weekend as the northeast, and particularly the Philadelphia area, was paralyzed by a massive blizzard. We received 23 inches of snow--2 feet!!!--on Saturday, and the main roads in town are still a mess. (The above photos were taken after only 1 foot fell). The snow started falling at 3am on Saturday, and didn't stop until 4am on Sunday morning. That's 25 hours of snow. Mr. Red went out to shovel 4 times, and thanks to his efforts we were able to dig our car out and head to Mass last night (although I'm still doubting the wisdom of our decision to drive on the roads last night).
Prior to the snow, we had a busy weekend planned. Last minute Christmas errands, a haircut, a Christmas show, two family Christmas parties, and pre-Christmas prep for pies, cakes, and cookies. Thanks to the snow, everything was cancelled, and we spent our weekend baking, cleaning, shoveling, playing in the snow, and RELAXING! It was wonderful. A forced break to really soak in these last days of Advent was just what our family needed.
Apparently, we were not alone in our sentiments. On Saturday night, our across the street neighbors hosted their annual Christmas party. We have never been able to attend due to the craziness of the season. With the poor weather, our other plans were cancelled, and so we walked across the street for a great and relaxing time with our neighbors. I met many new friends in town, and every new conversation brought the same sentiment of joy regarding the snow and the forced break during this busy season. One neighbor spent the day wrapping, another baking, but everyone enjoyed listening to Christmas music, staying at home, and spending time with their families. The party was great, I'm sure in part because of the blizzard.
Last night Mr. Red and I had a talk about what we could do to decrease the madness and simplify our future Advent seasons. We can't always count on a blizzard to slow things down, but there are many activities and traditions we can choose to exclude from our Advent season that will help us attain peace and a prayer filled heart leading up to Christmas Day. This year we have a newborn baby, so the typical pre-Christmas obligations are little more onerous than usual, but even on a good year, we run ourselves ragged with Christmas preparations.
In the past, we have refrained from adopting some new traditions like celebrating the feast of St. Nicholas. It just isn't possible to celebrate every feast, or emphasize every tradition in our home. And as much as I'd like to make a big deal out of the Feast of St. Lucy, something has to give or we will just be tailgating our way to Christmas. As a family, we have to make some hard choices. Packing everything in, every year, just isn't possible without going insane!
And so on a practical level, Mr. Red and I decided not to get each other gifts at Christmas time. We will focus on birthdays instead, as that time of year isn't already full of other obligations. In the future, we may be making a move in this direction with Godchildren, and maybe even some of our nieces and nephews. We will also consider doing certain traditions on an every other year basis. It is often hard for me to say no to just one more Christmas obligation, but each gift, each activity, and each party adds to the complexity of the season, and before you know it, we need a blizzard to slow us down and give us the time to really appreciate this special and holy time of preparation for the birth of our Savior.
What have our readers done to simplify this holy time of year? What activities or traditions have you chosen to forgo?