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Women’s Christmas

January 3, 2013

Our lay leader on Sunday, Nancy Hopkins-Garriss, reminded us that while the hubbub of Christmas was over for the rest of the world, as Christians, after Christmas, we could celebrate in a more low key fashion and enjoy the 12 days of Christmas stretching to Epiphany (January 6). Take walks. Sit by the tree. Not worry about company coming. Not worry about who we had to buy for yet. No more cookies to bake, just cookies to share and get rid of. This week has been like that for me.

Funny thing at my house: I’m happy and relieved to go back to “work” at the office (which I did today) because I can get away from fixing meals (or at least putting food out) three times a day.

I just learned of an old Irish tradition called “Women’s Christmas” which occurred on Epiphany—women were given a break from their normal domestic chores and especially the work of Christmas, and encouraged to go off and celebrate together. That sounds like a great tradition to revive. Jan. L Richardson, an artist and inspirational writer/speaker, also wrote about this tradition last year in her blog.

Our church has long had another tradition of having Epiphany dinners in homes—with each visitor bringing a dish. People who want to participate either sign up to be hosts or guests, and someone fixes up the guest list and lets the hosts know who will be coming to their house. The host then contacts each guest to find out what dish they want to bring. It tends to be a favorite tradition because the work is nil: just brushing crumbs off the Christmas table cloth.

The year I lived in Spain, I was delighted to learn about celebrating “Three Kings Day” on January 6. Children left cognac and good Spanish bread for the Kings who left gifts in their shoes by the fireplace. Beats milk and cookies for tired Santas. But I don’t recommend gift giving for Epiphany AND Christmas day … nor could I ever gather energy or funds to give little gifts as some do for each of the 12 days of Christmas. Enough already.

Back to more chilling. I’m sure God didn’t mean for the birth of the Christ child to mean more domestic work for us all. Allowing space to breath, exercise, sleep in, and stay up late helps restore inner harmony after the rush of December. Which means eating just a simple bowl of cereal, blueberries and English walnuts for breakfast. Yum.

(I’m also indebted to Malinda Elizabeth Berry, this week’s writer in Rejoice! devotional, writing about “Women’s Christmas.”)

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