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The Goddess Speaks

Dot Shigemura

Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Don’t stop celebrating
Christmas on Dec. 25

I hate how quickly Christmas ends. We all spend so much time, starting as far back as Halloween for some of us, until Dec. 25, frantically cleaning, decorating, buying and wrapping -- then the big day hits, and it's all over ... or is it?

I am one who is only ready to begin relaxing and enjoying Christmas from the 25th forward. I love listening to my Carpenters Christmas CD over and over and over, especially while sitting in the darkened living room with only the lights from the tree on. I love watching Christmas videos, and some not so Christmasy, but still with Christmasy feel-good endings. I love looking at my crèche, the one my aunt bought for my mother right after I was born more than 40 years ago, and marveling at the Christmas story, all the while waiting daily with anticipation as my son and I move the three wise men and their camel closer and closer to the stable.

Somehow, there just never seems to be enough time to do any of this until Christmas Day hits. And so I settle in to begin enjoying Christmas on the 25th, and realize, to my dismay, that everyone else is busy taking down their (dead) trees, the store decorations, and making New Year's resolutions. Where did Christmas go?

IT HIT ME one year as I was rereading a favorite book. A scene in the book, set in the late 1800s, talks about all the Christmas parties that BEGAN on Christmas Day and continued into the New Year. Back then, they understood the true meaning of "the 12 days of Christmas." Those days did not begin on Dec. 12 and end on Dec. 24; they began on Dec. 26 and lasted through Jan. 6. The symbolism behind this ties in to the Christmas story, which celebrates the arrival of the three wise men, who found baby Jesus 12 days after His birth.

When my first son turned 2, my husband and I began celebrating the 12 days of Christmas. It was sort of by necessity, as at that age a child (blissfully!) doesn't quite understand the rigors of opening numerous presents on Christmas morning. All they know is "present!" and upon opening one, they immediately want that one and only one to play with. They have no concept that there is a multitude of presents waiting patiently to be unwrapped and played with, also.

We decided then to start celebrating the 12 days of Christmas by holding back 12 presents to open, one each day, through the true Christmas season. Our first son, now 9, along with his 2-year-old brother, look forward to choosing which presents will stay wrapped under the tree, and then look forward to slowly relishing the joy of receiving them as the days go by.

We love going to admire the downtown decorations after the 25th. I find myself deliberately holding off mailing Christmas cards until after Christmas Day, even when I am organized enough to get them done in time. I enjoy having the quiet time after the 25th to sit and write a personal note to friends who live far away.

Won't you join me in celebrating the 12 days of Christmas? Give a gift to a friend tomorrow, sing a Christmas carol on Friday, drink eggnog on Sunday. Let the miracle of the Christmas story stay with you for the next six days, and beyond, if you wish. And don't be surprised when I wish you a Merry Christmas when everyone else is saying Happy New Year!

Dot Shigemura spent much of 2002 helping others plant a new church in West Oahu (fittingly called St. Nicholas), where she hopes to spread Christmas cheer year-round. "The Goddess Speaks" is a Tuesday feature by and about women. Write "The Goddess Speaks," 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813; or e-mail

The Goddess Speaks is a Tuesday feature by and
about women. If you have something to say, write
"The Goddess Speaks," 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813;
or e-mail

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