We here at the Casa de Scribbler are throwing ourselves a Twelfth Night party next week, on January 5th, the eve before the feast of the Epiphany.
We have been trying to celebrate ALL 12 days of Christmas– a season which is rather truncated here in the United States, but which is actually 12 days long in most of the Christian world.
We have been trying to take these days to focus on celebrating Jesus and salvation. In honor of the Feast of Saint Stephen (December 27th), we are trying to live His ministry by caring for the poor. Frankly, we got lazy and we can do better, so we’re using this year as a “jumping off point” for celebrating all 12 days, and hoping to do better next year. But in any event, we’ve tried to think up ways to DEMONSTRATE “caring for the poor” to Little Scribbler, and suffice it to say, I think we managed to teach a few lessons in the past few days, at the expense of a little humility on the part of the grown ups…
You’re never supposed to let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, but in the case of teaching a 3 year old, you have to kind of spell things out pretty plainly and repetitively, for it to sink in. This leads to a lot of what sounds like bragging (for lack of a better word). We’re trying to play it off caring for the poor as “Mommy and Daddy are obedient to God, and do as Jesus says, and so we give groceries to that man on the corner because he doesnt have any food to eat. And since our family has so MUCH food to eat, we are going to share with him, because Jesus asked us to, and He loves us all the same”, as opposed to “Look what a nice thing we’re doing for that man! We should always be nice to other people”. It feels good to help other people, but I dont want to give her the impression that she should do so for the personal rewards. Feeding the hungry is what is expected. It’s the baseline, not the “above and beyond”. Neither do I want her to have an inflated sense of her own virtue, so we must tread lightly on the explainations! But as you’ll see below, the explainations are VERY necessary!
We’ve had some awkward moments between the Auditor and I, where we’re not really sure how to explain something to Little Scribbler, but we want to make sure from a young age that she gets the idea that we have a responsibility to think of people other than herself. The first time we stopped to give groceries to someone who was begging, she became hysterical– screaming “MY CEREAL! Hey! GIVE THAT BACK!” over and over and over again. As a result, The Auditor and I have conferred and determined that we’re still in the “teaching” phase of charitable giving…she’s starting to understand, but I look forward to the day when explaination is no longer necessary.
We’re also planning on celebrating Twelfth Night– which I BELIEVE (although cant seem to substantiate) was the day that the Magi arrived in Bethlehem to pay homage to the Infant Jesus. In 3 year old terminology, Christmas is Jesus’ birthday, and Twelfth Night is the day of His birthday party– the day people arrived to bring Him gifts worthy of a King, and to worship Him. (Pretty sure they didnt have any cake, though).
And so, here at the Casa de Scribbler, we are having a Birthday Party for Jesus. I am making the traditional circular King’s Cake (symbolizing a crown),(although probably omitting the yucky jellied fruit bits that are supposed to go in it) and we are all giving Jesus a present. Frankly I got the idea from the story of “The Littlest Angel”, about a little boy who dies and goes to heaven, and when he sees people bringing gifts to Jesus, he sneaks back down to earth to retrieve his most prized possession to give to Jesus– a box of special rocks and sticks and whatnot that he found on his walks in the woods.
Instead, The Auditor and I will be making offerings to Jesus– some kind of personal sacrifice, or a promise to do something specific and good with the year, etc. We will write them down, wrap them up in birthday paper, and then open them. The papers will be displayed someplace private, to remind us throughout the year of the gift we have pledged Jesus. I suspect that Little Scribbler will take this very literally and expect tangible presents for Jesus, so I’m not sure how we will go about handling that just now.
So this idea of a 12th Night Party is sort of fluid at the moment– evolving. I’m open to suggestions if anybody has any! I’ve got all manner of decorations and whatnot to commemorate the occasion. I want it to make an impression on Little Scribbler, and more importantly, I want to give Jesus something…because I very rarely do, and it’s time to appreciate my blessings just a little bit more than I do, and to approach religion from a place of worship, and not just a place of “Lord please help me!”.
So on that note– Merry Christmas! There are five days of it left– enjoy them! :)