magpie 43

Author: angiem, 12 01st, 2010

The Advent season is upon us and this is my favorite time of the year.  I am big on rituals and festivals, sharing and expressing my love of my family and friends, and of music and books that speak to my heart.  Perhaps because I have been a child in a different culture and experienced the magic of the season there, I have not fallen prey to the consumerism aspect of what Christmas is in the States.  Having purchased my gifts weeks in advance, I avoid the false cheer of crowded malls, and rude, impatient shoppers.

I focus inward instead.  What greatness am I willing to allow be born within me during this time?  As we prepare the Advent table with its silken blue cover, the color of Mary’s cloak, and light the candles of the Advent wreath, I hold my children near me, and read stories of Christmas and sing the old fashioned carols my grandmother taught us as children.

And I tell them stories of my childhood, sledding down the hills with my other four siblings in the stillness of a starry night, going caroling to the houses of family and friends where we were eagerly awaited with warm drinks and tables heaped with food, spending whole days at cousins’ houses where the parents cut the goose and the pig and made pates and sausages, while the kids had merry snowball fights.  Oh and then there was the anticipated arrival of Saint Nicholas.  Not Saint Nicholas aka Santa Claus, but Saint Nicholas of Smyrna himself.

On the eve of every 5th of December, we shined our shoes and placed them in frosted windows, or next to drafty back doors.  Sometime during the frigid, glittery night the dear Saint would come and leave behind an orange, a golden walnut, a little cookie, a few candies, and a little treasure.  And always besides all the goodies, was the prettiest silver switch, a reminder for us to behave ourselves.  My children love Saint Nicholas day, and we use the example of the switch as an opportunity to discuss the areas that need strengthening and growing in the coming year.

Although I am a woman of faith, I feel uncomfortable wearing it on my sleeve (because it looks self-righteous and arrogant on me, perhaps?), but have to ask, what greatness are you allowing to be born within you, and transform you to the highest possible best that you can be?

This is a true Magpie Tale.


47 Responses to “magpie 43”

  1. Ava Says:

    So much food for thought!! What I will allow is hopefully kindness and cimpassion. They seem in short supply these days.
    You paint a pretty picture! I wish I had the sort of memories you do. As a child I barely got to see snow, let alone play in it.

  2. christine Says:

    This was so lovely to read, what a special time you will make for your family and just how it should be. Christmas is a time of love and families and you have said that here.

  3. Julie Says:

    Oh Dear Angie
    What beautiful rituals you have.. and what beauty you inspire in people .. inside and out..

    You know I have long forgotten all my christmas rituals.. as I live alone.. I have become lazier and lazier with them.. and I do miss them… I’m in danger of becoming the grouchy spinster aunt!! haha I think any child of yours is lucky indeed!!

    Maybe you will inspire me to be the best version of myself.. which has been sorely lacking lately

    Take care.. ciao xxx Julie

  4. Mwa (Lost in Translation) Says:

    Lovely. I agree. It’s a magical time. All through November, we sing Sinterklaas songs and the children are completely spellbound. Then after he has come, we switch to carols and spend Christmas with family. While I do think my British in-laws go overboard on presents, as a family I hope we can avoid that and keep it more truthful between us. Lovely post!

  5. Jessica Says:

    What a wonderful childhood you had!
    I don’t know about greatness, but I def. hope the fruit of the spirit is ripe for the picking in me. :-)

  6. Gabriela Abalo Says:

    Lovely post of traditions and celebrations!!

    Thanks for visiting my place

    cheers from Uruguay

  7. Victoria Says:

    Here in NL we are celebrating 5th Dec with Sinterklaas. The excitement is still building up, just like it does with Santa, but this celebration seems so much more children and family focussed. 5th Dec is also my son’s birthday so its kind of crazy here right now! I’m trying to be more patient and spend more time with my kiddos.

  8. deb @ talk at the table Says:

    I love the idea of a blue tablecloth….

    Advent is a very special time. Very.

  9. Diane Says:

    Powerful question to ask ourselves. I love the story of the switch and the reminder it gives. Hugs to you sweet friend. I miss seeing your face more. :O)

  10. Mary Moon Says:

    I am seeing the blue of the cloak, the shined shoes by the door, the children playing in the snow.
    Quite simply beautiful.

  11. joyce Says:

    Well written my friend. I usually avoid the stores in December. It dawned on me several years back watching myself and others running around getting this gift and that one when I thought wait I am missing the reason we celebrate this season. Hugs! xo

  12. Ötli Says:

    That’s a magic Christmas! May be, if I have one like yours I’ll like it more ;)

  13. suz Says:

    I love the blue tablecloth
    I will surely incorporate this into my celebration of advent
    preparing for the coming of the birth of the Christ child
    thank you so much for sharing

  14. kathe w. Says:

    lovely memories for you and our children. A silver switch indeed!
    Our family focuses on just being together not the pile of gifts that some other families need. We just need to be together as we are usually separated by many miles.
    Thoughtful words-thank you!

  15. pamela Says:

    Such a lovely posting Angie.
    Warm thoughts your way!

  16. Stephanie Says:

    Beautiful and much food for thought. Inspiration to focus on the reason for the season, as they say.

  17. Anya Says:

    Dear Angie, you have put it in the most wonderful article. The entire idea of the Holidays, I could not have said better. I also always remeber my childhood. Growing in the Soviet Russia was a difficult experience, but I still remeber how much fun I had sliding down the hill with my friend in the old bathtub! It was like sliding inside of the tank. :-)))…or, I still remeber how I found an ornage hidden inside of my boot. My Mom smiled and told me that Father frost put it there. Orange!!! In the middle of visious Winter! In Russia! Oranges were such a rare treasure back then in my country. As a matter of fact that was the only orange I had between the age of 4 and 15. I can still taste it. :-)

  18. La Belette Rouge Says:

    Lovely, as always. As I have no watch or religious life, as it were, I do think of this time of year as a birth to the Self( the highest and best part of our self) and finding light in the darkness. It is my way of giving meaning to the season. Your writing, introspection and being is so clearly from that high-Self. You inspire me.

  19. helen Says:

    Angie, a Magpie for this season - for all seasons!

  20. Lyn Says:

    A very pure loveliness to this..good to pause and take it all in!

  21. Bobi Says:

    Loved this piece Angie. I have some of those same memories and look forward to sharing them with Seth one day too. Be blessed always.

  22. Tumblewords Says:

    Lovely rituals!

  23. Kristen Haskell Says:

    Merry Christmas. Lovely piece

  24. bkmackenzie Says:

    If you believe in something you should be afraid to wear it on on your shirtsleeve…advent is a special time of year…may yours be blessed with many good memories…bkm

  25. Susan Tiner Says:

    Dear Angie, your writing always lifts my spirits. I love your stories. Your children are so lucky to have you.

    For us, advent is a time of expectations, mostly the expectations of our music director :-). For example, the music we’ll sing for the traditional Lessons and Carols service this Sunday.

    It is a time to think of what next year will bring, and what we can bring of ourselves to make it a year to remember.

  26. audrey Says:

    Angie your beautiful stories always remind me of a time that seems long gone… when family and friends shared long periods of time in the midst of one another’s love and company. Only you remind me as well, that it is still very much possible today. thank you for this gift!

    blessings to you this holiday season, and always!!

  27. brigid Says:

    A refreshing Christmas tale, Angie. I loved reading all your traditions.
    Your children are lucky.

  28. Susan Deborah Says:

    What a poignant read! “I focus inward instead,” is a wonderful way to spend this season of love, joy and peace. I love the way you have gently admonished the consumerist way of celebration and provide an alternate way.
    “Although I am a woman of faith, I feel uncomfortable wearing it on my sleeve” — I guess even I share this trait with you. Angie, so glad to know you through these Magpies. And I love the way your beauty and gentleness unfolds to us.

    Joy and peace,

  29. Strummed Words Says:

    Thanks for the words of encouragement at this time of the year!

  30. Karen@SurvivingMotherhood Says:

    Angie - I am agreeing with all the others. This was a delightful post to read. Your memories and traditions are beautiful!
    As to the greatness in me which will transform me? That can only be Jesus! He is taking this broken woman I call ‘me’ and making her into the woman He wants her to be.
    It’s a wonderful thing.
    Not without pain and trials, but I trust Him!

    Love you,

  31. Laura Munson Says:

    “…the false cheer of crowded malls.” I agree, Angie. I feel so bereft when I see the commercials on TV and when I hear about people lining up at 3 am to buy technology the day after T-giving. I, like you, shop early. I shop throught the year in fact so that we’re not in a jam financially because of the pressure to “give.” I want to give with my heart and my intention, not with my pocketbook. So I buy things at craft fairs in summertime and love how the works of those artisans come alive on my dining table as I line them up to give as gifts, wrap, and send off. They’re not the season’s “hot” gifts…but they are made with love, as is this blessed season. This is such an inspiring piece, Angie. Thanks for writing it. yrs. Laura

  32. Jeanne Says:

    Angie..I love the magic of your stories. I would love to create the images to follow each memory.
    *children, books, silver blue cover, candles, advent wreath, music, sleds , carols, drink, goose, pig, sausage, snowball fights and to represent the best that one can be…a starry night with the brightest stars twinkling in the moonlight :)

    Love it all!!

    Jeanne xxx

  33. laura Says:

    What beautiful traditions you have, Angie. I wish I was a child again in your house and could listen to your Christmas stories of sledding under the stars. I felt some of the magic in this reading. Beautiful, my friend, just like you :).

  34. French Fancy Says:

    I bet Christmas in your household is just superb, Angie - just like in the films and stories of old.

  35. Francesca Says:

    I so enjoy reading about your childhood Angie. I was in the US twice during Christmas, and all I remember was feeling overwhelmed.

  36. rochambeau Says:

    The things your write warm my heart. You are a special person Angie M.
    My you continue to be blessed as you bless so many with your woven words!


  37. Ruth Says:

    Oh greatness! That I may one day be the kind of mother that you are to your children! I hope to be able to read, sing carols, and just be patiently and understanding for them. Happy St. Nicholas Day and may this month be warm and may you fill it with good memories for future holiday seasons to come. Your writings are my time out to think in the days that never break for thinking. Be blessed…xoxo

  38. Marilyn Says:

    I loved reading about your time of Saint Nicholas, I loved this glimpse into your childhood world. To me people come before the commercial side of advent, A time for sharing with family and friends.

  39. Lydia Says:

    Your childhood advent memories are beyond special….they almost do not seem from a recent era. Marvelous that you are sharing them with your children, as you are enriching their Christmas experience in ways their friends won’t know.

    Because you are a quiet woman of faith I trust your heart, and if your heart asks me to question what greatness I am allowing to be born within me then I trust that I should begin asking myself that question. xo

  40. Anya Says:

    Dear Angie, thank you for your kind comment. I am feeling much better now. I suffered a little exhaustion episode, tired and overworked doctor says. I had a chance to rest for the past several days and now feeling much better. I keep hoping for snow and White Christmas too. :-)

  41. willow Says:

    I love that you have wonderful childhood memories to pass on to your children. (I like hearing them, too!)

  42. Kristin Says:

    Another stirring tale Angie!

  43. Susan Says:

    Oh I’m a day late to say Happy St. Nicholas Day, Angie. (But I thought of you last night. I did!)


  44. Susu Paris Chic Says:

    I do as you dear, stray away from consumerism. I always manage to sneak out its yucky fake smile, and yet please all loved ones with gifts.

    Next year I long to be even more honest about my feelings and to manage them even better. I feel like I am on the good road towards that.

  45. Christie Says:

    I love to enjoy the sweet spirit of Christmas with my family.
    Every Christmas our family finds a special family in need and we help them experience Christmas.
    Nothing can describe the joy on the faces of those who receive when they thought there would be none.
    My children have learned what it means to go with less so that others do not have to go without, this reminds our family of the many blessing we enjoy and how grateful we are to have the comforts that many do not.

  46. krista Says:

    most of all, i love how you’ve woven your traditions with how it means something specific for your family. because i think it’s the specificity within each of us that brings the meaning to these handed down traditions, yes? and it’s the adaptations that bring growth and open us to the possibility of so much more.

  47. Evangeline Says:

    “What greatness am I willing to allow be born within me during this time?” What a wonderful post, and a deeply stirring question that i will take away with me into my day.

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