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Catholic Activity: Christmas Decorations, Greens and Tree

In understanding the true meaning of Christmas, which is preparing ourselves interiorly for Christ's birth, a natural extension of this is in our decorations of our home. Elsa Chaney explains how to decorate to reflect our inner spiritual joy in Christ's coming in our Christmas tree, the greenery and other decorations.

DIRECTIONS

An increasing number of families are discovering another effective means towards restoring the true spirit of Christmas in making as many of the decorations as possible together — the tree decorations, the table centerpiece, the festive dress for window and mantelpiece. We decorate the home to reflect outwardly the inner spiritual joy of the family at Christ's coming, and if everyone has had a hand in creating the decorations, the idea behind their use is understood more easily. And the children can learn much through the experience — not only the satisfaction and joy of working with their hands but valuable lessons in the meaning of the coming feasts.

Christmas Greens When one thinks of Christmas decorations, one thinks first perhaps of the Christmas greens which represent the everlasting life the Incarnation has won for mankind. Many beautiful effects can be obtained from the simple, naturally decorative sprays of evergreen, and the children love to work with the spicy, piney branches.

Put evergreens up as a background for the Christmas crib; make sprays for the windows with evergreen, pine cones and red ribbon; make gay Christmas pompons of greens on a potato ball base to hang from ceiling and light fixtures. And best of all, make the traditional round Christmas wreaths of evergreen for the windows and front door, twining the sprays on wire coat hanger bases, and explaining to the children the significance of the circle as the sign of eternity. Directions for making a number of evergreen decorations are contained on a separate sheet in The Twelve Days of Christmas Kit. If the family has had an outing the previous fall to gather such treasures as pine cones and milkweed pods, they will have some auxiliary materials ready.

Christmas cards which begin to arrive at this time can be used as effective and colorful decorations, symbols of the love that binds us to relatives and friends in a special way at this time of year. Place them on the tree; string them on thick yarn and hang them on a stairway, or tack them to mounting board and display them in the living room.

The Tree Decorations

Tree decorations are another appealing family project. For the smaller children, there are on the market today simple cardboard tree decorations, gaily colored and ready to punch or cut out. In one family nearby, the little boys could not stop talking about "their decorations," even though they had done nothing more complicated than punching them out and hanging them on the tree. For older children there are limitless possibilities, and lately the popular household magazines have been full of ideas on "how to make" home decorations, as even the secular world becomes surfeited with the artificial and sophisticated baubles and longs for a "good, old-fashioned Christmas."

The Twelve Days of Christmas Kit contains patterns and directions for a set of meaningful, striking tree decorations to cut out and assemble. When these decorations are hung on the Christmas tree, it is transformed into the "family tree" of Christ, since each decoration is a symbol either of an ancestor of Christ, an Old Testament type, or a prophecy foretelling His coming.

Thus there are decorations like Noe's Ark, since Noe was a savior and the father of a new race, prefiguring Christ, the Savior who fathers a race of new men in the supernatural order, sheltering them in the ark of the Church. There is the "Sun of Justice," a favorite figure of the psalmist; there is the flower rising up from the root of Jesse, as Isaias had foretold in his prophecy of the Incarnation, and a dozen others. The "Jesse tree" as this very special Christmas tree is sometimes called, is becoming increasingly popular, and the making of the symbolic decorations is an opportunity for a meaningful, instructive family project. The illustrations at the left give an idea of these Jesse tree symbols.

Activity Source: Twelve Days of Christmas, The by Elsa Chaney, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN, 1955

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