Thursday, December 31, 2015

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas: A New(ish) Scottish Tradition

Happy Oor Wullie Day! This is last year's post explaining our family holiday! Enjoy!

A {phfr} POST

On the Fifth Day of Christmas I was in a doctor's office waiting to check out. As I dug a candy cane out of the bottom of the candy dish, the man standing in line ahead of me said "Aren't you sick of those yet?"

Nope! We just got started!

Right now, the Christmas tree is bright and cheery, there is a fire in the hearth, and I just finished a molasses cookie and a cup of coffee with "spiced latte" creamer (the bottle was disturbingly decorated with the face of a wookie). 

The family is gathered around the hearth reading Scottish comic books. 

{funny} in funny holiday

Today is the third annual Oor Wullie Day. If you follow the link you will see that it entails reading piles of comic books featuring a Scottish Bart Simpson-like character named Wullie. In our house it is a much anticipated part of our Christmas celebration. This is the only day the kids can read the comics, and that brilliant idea (Jim's, of course) has meant that the same eight or ten comic books remain new and delightfully funny to all the kids. 
(If you were here just now you would have heard a loud giggle from a certain 11 year old boy). 

Though we have celebrated this invented-by-us holiday three times, Christmas 2015 has seen some new additions to the celebration. We have tried in the past to celebrate all twelve days of Christmas, but have been over-whelmed by my limited view of that word "celebrate". 

I mean how many days in a row can you have a fancy dessert?

This year I was inspired to re-think this view by Auntie Leila over at Like Mother, Like Daughter and I shared my new, down to earth, realistic outlook with Jim. 

He came up with an idea that has transformed Christmas this year. 

We have tried in the past to spread some of the gift giving out a bit, to avoid Christmas morning overload. But that usually meant there was Christmas day with an exchange of gifts among the five family members, and then another day mid-week for Grandma's gifts and any friend/cousin gifts that might show up. Then on Epiphany a family gift. Sounds good, right? 

Yet it still left Christmas morning feeling overwhelming and wrongly focused. 
This year we chose to schedule the gift giving by the giver and spread it throughout the twelve days.
So the First Day of Christmas was Mama's and Papa's gift giving day. We gave to each other and to the kids. A pretty typical Christmas morning but with a lot less wrapping paper and much more time to sit and hold the Baby Jesus statue and linger over breakfast...and be ready for Mass on time. 

{pretty} in pretty girl

The Second Day of Christmas was the Feast of St. Stephen, the day mentioned in a family favorite Christmas Carol, Good King Wenceslaus, and it was chosen as M.'s giving day. She handed out her gifts to each family member one at a time. And an amazing thing happened. She LOVED her day, while the other two squirmed excitedly, barely able to wait for their day to give gifts.

On the Third Day of Christmas A. gave her gifts which included well thought out, purchased gifts, as well as homemade ones. She wrote and illustrated a story for her Papa and had it bound at OfficeMax. This project took weeks to complete and she was so excited to give it. 
And, of course, it was a hit. 
{happy} in happy kids

On the Fourth Day of Christmas we started another new tradition. The Babies, or, as the kids call them, The Kennedy Kids in heaven, had a gift giving day. Under the tree that day was Bishop Barron's Catholicism series on Blueray which we had bought on sale during Advent. Now, when we watch these DVD's we feel as if the whole family is together to learn more about our Faith. 

On the Fifth Day of Christmas D. had his day. He is the quintessential gift-giver, always seeing something that would be the "perfect gift" for someone. All through November and December he was constantly in danger of spending his last cent on gifts. So waiting until the Fifth Day was almost like torture for him. But he picked the day in honor of one of his favorite saints, Thomas Becket, whose feast falls on that day. D. also found time to write a book, get it bound and do some artwork. 

{real} in real bad red eye that can't be removed. 

I suppose one of the reasons for the kids' increased interest in giving this year could be that they have had, for the first time, a real allowance. They all had their own money to spend in whatever way they wanted. This also meant they had a lot more say in what was chosen--in years past I had a big influence on what they got for each other, to the point of buying it and telling them what they were giving the day it was wrapped. 

But not this year. And surprisingly, that produced the biggest effort put into homemade gifts to date. I like to think that it wasn't because they wanted to save their money to spend on themselves, but that they knew the value of things, and that a gift from the heart mattered much more than a gift bought just to meet a price  point on their own list. 

For the remaining days of Christmas, we have some activities planned and a few more gifts to open. 

We hope you are all enjoying your Christmas celebration as much as we are!

Check out the other {phfr} posts at Like Mother, Like Daughter. 


  1. Merry Christmas Carol, Jim and kiddos!!! Lovely post, wonderful ideas. I'm drinking my coffee thinking many things...I want to visit them again...they've grown can feel the joy...and lastly...nodding profusely was the allowance comment. Yes! That! I was JUST thinking how well-rounded my own kids' gift giving has become since they have a nice allowance to save up and work with.

    Happy New Year to you all!

    1. Thanks Patty! We would love to see you guys again. Can't believe how big your kids have gotten too, especially that little cutie. She was barely 2 when we last you, I think!