5. Christmas shopping - I don't much like the comercialism of Christmas. However, I have to admit that this is the only time of year when I actually like shopping. Why? because I'm not shopping for myself. I have pre-buyer's guilt, meaning I feel bad about spending money on myself before I actually spend the money which usually results in my not buying anything, even when I need something. But I love shopping for others. I love finding that perfect gift and anticipating the look on my loved ones faces when they open it. And I don't get buyers guilt over it, even when I spend a little more than I probably should because I can't wait to bring a little joy to my loved ones. I like wrapping presents too - I don't know why. I really like trying to find creative ways to wrap oddly shaped gifts.
4. St. Nicholas Day - I don't celebrate it so much anymore, but it was a big tradition in my household growing up. Every year on December 6th, my siblings and I would write up our Christmas lists and leave them in a shoe (or, more likely, one of my Dad's boots - holds more candy ) on the front porch with some carrots for St. Nicholas' donkey. The next morning the shoes (boots) would be filled with chocolate, nuts, and fruit. It was something we looked forward to every year. I can't wait to have my own children so that I can resume the tradition with them.
3. Feast of the Immacualte Conception - Also my brother's birthday, December 8th was always that weird day we went to Mass on a weekday. I didn't understand it as a child but now I love it. I've come to love Mary and thinking about the part she played in God's plan is just... wow. From the moment she was concieved, He had prepared her to be the mother of His Son. She had no idea what He had planned for her but the plan was there nevertheless. It reminds me that God has a plan for me which I don't know about yet.
2. Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe - Patroness of the Americas. I'm not Hispanic but my Parish has a large Hispanic community which my family is very involved in. Several years ago, we started attending the Feast they hold on this day. Food, friends, fun. I hardly speak any Spanish but I never feel left out among my Spanish-speaking friends. It's such an exciting party. Everyone is loud and laughing and there's a roasted pig on the table and re-enactments of Juan Diego. This year we even had Aztec dancers and Spanish conquistadors. More and more, I see the Spanish and English communities at our Parish blending together into one. Events like this really bring everyone together.
1. Posadas - Another tradition carried over from my Hispanic brothers and sister, the nine days before Christmas are marked by gatherings at different homes in the community where we re-enact Mary and Joseph's search for an inn. We pray and sing together and then break for fun and fellowship and, of course, food! I love Posadas. They get me prepared and focused on the coming of Christ in Christmas.