It is now Christmas Day and we wish you a wonderful day filled with love, laughter and friendship.
If you’re in a heat wave like us, remember to drink plenty of water and stay cool.
Sunday evening and we’re onto the fourth day of advent calendars.
Have you missed any days yet?
So my son was very pleased to find that he did get another instrument in the fourth advent calendar flap tonight! The trumpet came with another fire fighter so I suspect we have a fire brigade band performing in Lego City this year.
And my daughter was happy upon discovering a campfire and plant in the Lego Friends advent calendar. I can’t say I understand why there are flowers to the side of a fire but maybe it will become clearer as we move through the calendar.
If you missed it, you can read our review of day three as well.
It’s now December and a lot more Christmas is around us.
For example, as of yesterday classrooms at our local school are decorated with tinsel and trees and Christmas parties are in full swing.
Obviously though, Christmas items have been on sale for a while now, along with decorated shops and Christmas centric advertising campaigns. And some will say it all started too early.
I’m ok with Christmas things around in October (on a small scale) and November, although I do find hot cross buns on sale in December a bit much in preparation for Easter!
But did you know that Christmas promotions stated in early spring (that is, during September) back in 1912 and even in August 1914? And complaints about Christmas starting ‘too early’ and ‘earlier every year’ were made in 1954 Britain and 1968 USA. So it’s not really a recent thing that Christmas is getting so early!
Ads for Christmas were published in November 1885, and retailers started with Christmas ‘events’ as early as November in 1888 and 1893.
Well, it obviously works for retailers to promote Christmas earlier, or they’d have stopped it long ago.
Earlier promotion and reminders of Christmas encourages some people to shop earlier which means
I found it fascinating to learn that an American social reformer by the name of Florence Kelley strongly supported early Christmas shopping promotions to stop “the inhumane nature of the eleventh hour rush”. She felt that the shopping frenzy in December was “a bitter inversion of the order of holiday cheer”, and I must say I agree! From her essay in 1903, a huge campaign was waged to bring shopping forward as part of Kelley’s fight against child labour and abuse of overtime.
Some people like Christmas advertising to start well before December as it
So how do you feel about Christmas being presented to us from September? Would you prefer it started in November or December?
I think of three, or maybe four, categories of Christmas music…
A few days ago, Pitchfork put out a list of their top 50 Christmas songs ever which is really interesting as they give stories and information about the songs, too. There are certainly songs on there I don’t know so I may have to start checking out rock Christmas songs this year!
Who knew Sufjan Stevens has released more than 100 Christmas songs since 2001, for instance?
Or that Frank Sinatra sang three different versions of “have yourself a Merry little Christmas“?
Or that Chuck Berry also sang a Rudolph song written by Johnny Marks (who wrote the original Rudolph the red nosed reindeer)? It was called Run Rudolph Run.
Santa loves all children (and adults!). No exceptions, he’s just a loving person.
So it is always special when others help Santa reach other kids than those who manage in mainstream situations.
There is a shopping mall in Novia Scotia, Canada, where autistic children can have private chats with Santa in a quiet room that has fewer decorations.
I think that is a wonderful idea to allow those children to experience sitting on Santa’s lap (or beside him), knowing that the noise, movement and crowds in a normal Santa situation could easily overwhelm children on the autism spectrum.
I have heard of other places in the past doing this, too.
The Sensitive Santa Project, run in Nillumbik Council in Victoria is a similar program being run this year. And Sensory Santa 2016 is encouraging shopping centre to hold more quiet Santa visit options – it lists centres across Queensland, NSW and WA that will offer Santa visits this coming Sunday (20 November).
Last year, I was just as moved by the story of Santa using sign language to chat with Tilly in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK and to communicate with a three-year-old girl, Mali, in Cleveland, USA.
That Cleveland Centre will have Santa signing again this year, as will a school in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA.
Back in Australia, some 2016 Christmas and Santa events including Auslan are:
Have you ever experienced an inclusive Santa experience somewhere? Did you see it make a difference to children who may otherwise have missed out on something that most other kids take for granted?
Do you know of any others coming up in Australia this year as I’d love them to be shared and become more common.
Santa of course loves all children and will communicate with them as best he can (writing letters to children is obviously a key way he communicates!). But because he is such a busy many, he has some other Santa helpers who take his place in some shopping centres and the like so more children can experience being with a Santa. And that’s why not all Santas you see can use Auslan, other sign languages or communicate in other ways and languages.
I am sure there are many more inclusive Santa events in Australia (and outside of Victoria!), but the ones above were the only ones I easily found via Google. If you know of others, please share them in the comments.
I just think of Christmas as it is now – a family-focussed time of colour and magic, with religious meaning to some. So it’s interesting to find out about how Christmas has been viewed in the past.
An article by Gerry Bowler covers some of the key changes in Christmas celebrations, such as it taking about 300 years after Christ’s birth before his followers celebrated his birth at Christmas.
And I found it fascinating that Christmas was banned during the sixteenth century and actually disappeared from places like Scotland, the Netherlands and even England for a while. it amuses me that “in England and America it had become an alcohol-centered season of low-class rowdiness.”
I guess it is the reappearance of Christmas in the early 1800s that has given us the images of English families sitting around a Christmas tree and building the values of sharing and togetherness I now associate with Christmas.
Of course, there are still many opinions about Christmas – it is not religious enough, it should be removed from religion and be secular, it is too commercial, and so on – but I can’t see Christmas disappearing again and agree with Bowler’s closing words “We may expect [Christmas] to be celebrated and attacked for centuries to come.”
* Image is in the public domain
Writing letters to Santa is a long standing tradition in many places around the world.
It is a lot of fun and has many benefits for children, but it can also be a family event that is lots of fun.
So how can you make it a family activity?
Basically, you just have to make the time to sit down together and write letters to Santa. But to get you moving, here are a few tips…
Writing Santa letters together has a number of advantages, including kids learning some useful lessons such as
Has your family (present or in your childhood) ever written Santa letters together? Are they special memories?
Growing up in Melbourne means visiting the Myer windows for Christmas.
As I mentioned last week, this is the 60th year that Myer has been providing this festive delight to Melbournians.
Like many Melbournians, I remember heading into the city (and going by train just added to the excitement!) to view the windows as a child and again with my friends as a teenager. Now, I get to take my children in and share the experience with them.
All but a few years had moving parts to the displays, and all years have a theme linking the six windows.
To celebrate the fact that the Myer windows are 60 years old, one of this year’s windows was very special. It showed the back of a typical scene so we can see the mechanism allowing for movement.
On either side of that scene was a bookshelf containing items/characters from old window themes. That is one window I wish I had been able to spend more time at, but it went quickly and was of less interest to my kids.
So this year, the theme behind the Myer Christmas windows is the book Little dog and the Christmas wish by Corinne Fenton.
Each window has a little dog at the front of the window looking into the scene of the story. The story can be heard and read as you move along the series.
As the little dog move around the suburbs and city of Melbourne, the various scenes show Melbourne from the 50s.
When we visited the windows last week I noticed a few changes from when I was younger.
So just a few days after posting about the advantages of kids writing Christmas cards to their friends and classmates. I came across a story that shocked me.
So the story is that a nine year old boy spent about two hours writing out cards for everyone in his class, including a picture for each child and adding in a candy cane each.
The next day, he handed out the cards and brought home some of them, minus the candy canes. When questioned, he told his mother that some kids didn’t want the cards so only took the candy canes.
I am horrified that some kids could be so rude and disrespectful as to reject cards given to them in a spirit of generosity and care.
They could have at least taken the cards and thrown them in the recycling bin at home instead of refusing to take them. And as for taking the gift without the card – I just can’t comprehend being so rude.
That boy is like my children – he obviously put thought and effort into writing those cards and he deserved better treatment than he got. Even if you don’t like Christmas or cards, surely you can be taught to appreciate the thought and effort?
I don’t even accept that people who don’t believe in Christmas should act this way – if you refuse the card, you must also refuse the candy cane I’d say. And you can accept the card in the spirit it was given rather than take some high ground of not believing.
My son and I discussed cards for one of his classmates who is Muslim – he is aware she does not believe in Christmas and didn’t want to offend her with a card. However, I said let’s include her by giving her a happy new year card instead. Either way I can’t see her or her mother refusing to take the card as they understand it was out of my son’s respect she was given the card.
I have never before heard of anyone accepting only part of a gift and refusing the card attached. I certainly would not act this way nor allow my children to do so (not that they would – they always bring cards home proudly and want to display them).
Am I just lucky enough to be surrounded by people with more manners and appreciation for being given something? Or is this a rare instance of rudeness? In other words, have you ever come across this sort of behaviour?
So most Aussies know that it is too hot in Australia for the reindeer (they are used to the snowy North Pole after all!) so six white boomers help Santa get around Down Under on Christmas Eve.
Many people are interested in the reindeer names, but did you know that the boomers also have individual names?
The actual six white boomers song does not include the names, unlike the original Night before Christmas story, but they are included on the album by Rolf Harris when he produced the song in the 1960s.
So, the boomers who help Santa are…
If you are not an Aussie, many of those names may seem a bit strange or foreign, but they seem fairly normal to me!