Epiphany is our solution.
Yesterday, after the normal Sunday routine, we gathered near the tree. We read from the Gospel of the day about the Magi visiting Jesus and sang We Three Kings. We explained to Olivia that the Magi brought gifts to Jesus because they were so excited to see him, how a star told them where to go, pointed out the star on the Christmas tree and so on. Then, we give the girls their presents.
We like this for a few different reasons:
- Stability: While Christmas is different every year, we’ll only be in Austin for Epiphany. I’m doubtful that anyone visiting that weekend would have Epiphany traditions that would difficult to accommodate without changing up our tradition.
- Catechetical: While giving us directly the opportunity to teach about that aspect of the Christmas story, in addition to the decorations still being up, it reinforces that Christmas is a season that begins—not end—on December 25th.
- Desecular: Christmas gift giving is crazy. The commercials, the movies, everything seemingly ties getting and giving a truck full of presents every year. We can’t completely fight it. There will be presents on Christmas, no matter where we spend it, but I haven’t seen a movie or story that promotes extreme materialism on Epiphany. We hope not having to compete with the secular Christmas expectation in our society, a small gift could have a bigger meaning.
I like using ritual-style books for ceremonies; hardcover, a simple cover, sturdy. As a domestic church, it makes sense to me that, like a parish church, some books are for use during a ritual while others for study, planning, etc. In addition to having a copy of Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers compiled by the USCCB, we bought a pew hymnal. We have the 3rd edition of Worship, a GIA hymnal that has a 80/20 split between organ-based and guitar/piano-based music. Specifically, we have the pew edition that includes the three-year cycle of Sunday/holiday readings. I picked up our copy with my parish upgraded to these hymnals about 10 years ago, but you can order one online through GIA.
I like having a hymnal so we have the majority of the music we sing at church easily accessible, as well as the Sunday readings, in a format that is obviously geared toward ritual celebration.
The first year of our Epiphany tradition went well and we were satisfied. Do you have any unique ways to celebrate the Christmas season?