Over the years we have gradually changed how we celebrate Christmas; my husband and I focus more on the experiences - both secular and religious - that we have as a family, instead of on the gift giving.
This year we made a big deal of sharing Advent dinners, baking gingersnaps, watching old movies together as well as inviting a large group of friends to a potluck on Dec. 23. We will be visiting with grandparents and aunts and uncles later in the week.
And of course, we attended Christmas Mass. My sons and I walked a bridge over a moonlit river and into a clear, star-filled night to Midnight Mass. My husband drove over so we could all head home together.
As Pope Benedict XVI said in his Christmas address: "Let us ask the Lord to help us see through the superficial glitter of this season, and to discover behind it the child in the stable in Bethlehem, so as to find true joy and true light,"
Both our sons asked only for one gift each for Christmas and didn't expect any more. (Though they received more in the form of books and clothes.)
I was moved, too, that our 15 year-old bought me a hand-knit wool hat from a young lady down the block with a fledgling home business. I have been wearing it all day, even indoors.
Finally, my husband and sons conspired to give me an overnight vacation at the local Hyatt with my husband. We will go see the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the State Theater and the boys will go to sleepovers with friends.
Today I pray our children and yours will continue to cultivate their relationships with the Infinite and I pray we are planting seeds that will bear fruit as they continue to move away from us and into adulthood.