The slow and painful march toward Christmas continues in the Bradley household. Most days, my natural sarcasm and gifts for redirection are enough to abate the growing tide of impatience in our sons. But there are moments when the moans and groans of “How many more days?” demand something more.
Last week, I stopped at World Market, hoping to find or get ideas for some unique stocking stuffers. While browsing, I saw a box of Lebkuchen – a traditional German Christmas cookie that tastes a bit like gingerbread. I remembered explaining Lebkuchen to our youngest son every Advent season, when we read about it in one of his favorite books, Waiting for Christmas. Every year I thought about making it, but never got around to it, so I snatched up the package of cookies and brought them home as part of what I hoped would be a fun teachable moment.
Our youngest son turns 9 next month and his brother will turn 12 just a few months after that, so it’s been a while since they’ve let anyone read aloud to them. I lured them to the couch by calling out, “Snack time!” and gave them each a Lebkuchen and milk. While they tried out their foreign treat, their dad read the story of young Gerhard and his parents, a German family living in the mid-1800s, and the traditions they used to help them prepare for and celebrate the birth of Christ.
When the story was done, I reminded our boys how many German ancestors they have – on both my husband’s side of the family and mine – many of whom probably waited for Christmas much the same way Gerhard did. We talked about how things moved at a much slower pace and the preparation of treats like Lebkuchen and other Christmas cookies took a lot longer than a drive to World Market. I waxed nostalgic (as I do every year) about waiting for Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer to come on television. Every time I tell it, I see visible shock and awe at the realization we couldn’t watch it whenever we wanted and didn’t get to see it more than once, because we didn’t have DVRs or DVDs (oh, the humanity!).
Because this is real life and not a Christmas special, I wasn’t surprised that our brief snack and story time didn’t completely stop the moaning and groaning. I never expected it would nor would I want it to. The moaning and groaning of our little psalmists – How long, Mom and Dad, how long? – are as much a part of our pre-Christmas tradition as our Advent calendars and tree decorating and cookie baking. But, yes, I’ll admit, I wouldn’t mind boxing them up on January 1 and storing them in the attic until next December!