On the fourth Advent Sunday, Mary and Joseph joined our nativity scene and, over the coming days, made their symbolic journey towards our symbolic stable. I love the reverence that Noah brings to the nativity scene. He calmly, beautifully, lovingly moves these two needle-felted figures (made by Mama) a little bit closer each day. Baby Jesus (needle-felted by Noah in Kindergarten) is added to the scene on Christmas eve.
The inner quiet of our nativity scene was contrasted with the raucous, "outward" singing of carols in the park, where one of Santa's helpers (my boys know that the real St Nicholas would not be frolicking around in shopping centres or with Rural Bush Fire Brigades the week before Christmas) arrived in a fire truck, accompanied by fire sirens and barking dogs.
In the final days before Christmas, our decorations continued to appear in Advent stockings each morning, until the boys all chose "our" tree (the Christmas Tree Farm's lack of Christmas spirit is another story) and we decorated it together on the 23rd. Final decorations were added around our home, and on Christmas eve the Advents calendar was removed to allow space for the Christmas tree to sparkle with all her might. She was lovely.
Christmas and New Year were sunny, fun-filled affairs at our house this year, with many friends around, much loud laughter and much silliness. Our decorative rituals brought us a sense of balance, and they brought calm. They reminded us to take a moment to reflect on this sacred time and ponder why it may be sacred to us. Amidst all thriving summer activity - slapping on suncream, rambling for cozzies, running down the jetty (because, you know, going swimming causes a frenzy... even when you get to do it everyday, often several times a day!), our rituals anchor us, and bring me "home". And they bring little shimmering stars to the big, blue eyes of my little ones. I hope they also warm their hearts, and give them magic memories to keep long after their childhoods are gone.