Since I was single, and couldn't wait to be married with children as I am now, I have had a tradition of buying at least one ornament, and one collection of Christmas music. Now, I have some lovely religious items some with precious memories that remind us of Christ's birth.
1. Music (first it was albums, then cassettes, now CDs. but Gaby wants to graduate to downloads!) Guess who's getting an Ipod?
This year we augmented our Spanish Christmas Carol Collection. One of my favorite carols is, "Los Peces en el Rio" (The Fish in the River)which tells a tale of how when the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus were by the river, the fish gathered near to see God incarnate. I'm also buying a copy of Kara Klein's Christmas album. She's a lovely pro-life young singer who has written a moving song about Terri Schiavo entitled, "Do You Still Think I'm Beautiful?"
2.As a newlywed, I nervously bought this large creche display for half price after Christmas, wondering if I was doing the right thing. This began our tradition of collecting Fontannini Nativity figures: we buy them after Christmas when they go on sale, and add them for Three Kings Day. We have amassed a Neopolitan-style display! The girls love playing 'Nativity' with them, which keeps them focused on the birth of Christ. This was one of the best investments I have made.
3. Ornaments: This year, I collected ornaments for the tree all year; I bought this hand carved Peruvian nativity ornament in September from a flea market at the parish I grew up in, and I saw this collection of Catholic saints at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Island (or soon to be saints in the case of Blessed Mother Teresa and Servant of God John Paul II). I think they're lovely, and they're virtually indestructible! I attended my cousin Larry's son's Baptism this fall, and received a lovely Celtic cross as a favor, which adds that personal touch to the tree, and reminds my children they are 1/8 Irish. They are half El Salvadorean, 1/4 Italian, and 1/8 Polish, this makes for a truly catholic (in the sense of universal)Christmas celebration.
4. Children's books: this year we bought "The Donkey's Dream" , "St Francis and the Donkey"(do I see a donkey theme here?!), and "Mary, Mother of God", "The Country Angels Christmas",and "Hark, A Christmas Sampler" ,which we loved from our Tomie de Paola Christmas unit. It has made Advent so rich this year, as his stories bring the children's imaginations to the story, and get them involved like few other authors.
See the blue Aunt Chiara's Stellini (star) cookies whose recipe is included in the back of "Jingle, the Christmas Clown". I used almond flavoring instead of orange juice, and they were perfect to celebrate the Immaculate Conception with the Queen of Heaven.
These items serve as what Mother Angelica called 'holy reminders' of our Heavenly Destination.