December is the time of year when we experience a variety of traditions. Some are long-standing, while others may be brand-new.
Many families celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or other traditional events that may not be related to spiritual expression during the holidays.
Of course, celebrating holiday traditions means spending time with loved ones. I caught my little nieces gazing at the ocean during our traditional week’s stay in San Diego. With (usually) good weather, a Christmas Day trip to the beaches is a long-standing tradition in our family.
I love this image of my sis-in-law cuddling with one of her adoptive daughters as they open presents.
Decor (or lack of)
Preparations for Christmas and our annual road-trip south to San Diego where most of our families live find us busy. Because we are away from home for 2-3 weeks, I decorate minimally and don’t put up a traditional Christmas tree. Instead we enjoy the Christmas trees of our families. Included in my minimal traditional decor is my 3-foot wooden tree adorned with yellow lights.
I am all about music during the holidays! I will happily start listening exclusively to Christmas music right after Thanksgiving.
These are two of my old favorites that simply aren’t Christmas unless I hear them: (Click to listen)
Linus and Lucy from Charlie Brown Christmas
Christmas Like a Lullaby by John Denver
For the first time in years, my husband and I attended a concert. For the last four years, thanks to fellow blogger Doug Warren, I’ve been listening to Spotify. In 2018 I signed up for a premium account and started following artists. Spotify notified me of a concert by new-to-me, multi-talented electric-violinist Lindsey Stirling. After Thanksgiving we attended her concert in downtown Sacramento.
New Favorite: I Wonder as I Wander Lindsey Stirling
Going to a winter concert may be a new tradition for us!
A Surprise Event
To add to our busy-ness, a friend convinced us to host a high school student from Japan during the first weekend in December (Thursday-Tuesday). At first I was reluctant, but she sent me the itinerary and it was do-able.
Cultural Homestay International is a program that provides cultural and educational experiences for high school students.
Cultural Homestay International (CHI) is a nonprofit educational organization founded in 1980 with the aim of promoting international understanding and goodwill through people-to-people exchanges. To live, study, or work together leads to a transformational experience of acceptance and genuine affection.
This experience ran in conjunction with a local Christian high School and provided activities that included two days of school, excursions and other evening events. A group of 30 students from Ibaraki (north of Tokyo) stayed in the Sacramento area.
Our sweet student was 17 years old and had a good command of English. She loved our dogs. I discovered one of her hobbies (besides shopping) was Tea Ceremony Club. I did not have any photos of her, but the featured image with the graphic may give you an idea of this ancient Japanese tradition.
She celebrates Christmas with her family but only the retail stores have decorations up for all to enjoy. She got a kick out of seeing the Christmas lights and hearing Christmas music.
More photos next week for “festive!”
What traditions, new or old, do you observe or cannot live without during the holiday season? Please link back to this post for Sunday Stills, or simply comment!