Tag Archives: family

Gleodileg* Jolabokaflod!

This year, my family celebrated Christmas on the Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving. We approach the holidays “creatively” and have previously celebrated Christmas at times ranging from Black Friday to The Day Itself. Thanksgiving and Christmas were combined about 15 years ago, when it became clear that gathering TWICE was simply impossible.

A designated “game master” defines our gift giving arrangement. This year my niece organized a combination of “Secret Santa” and “Jolabokoflod”. Jola…what?

Here’s an explanation of this popular new holiday tradition

This is how it worked for us. Each of us sent a (private!) message to the game master, listing:

  • a book we wanted
  • a favorite genre or author
  • a pet peeve (I nixed historical fantasy fiction)
  • OR our willingness to let Santa choose

SOMEBODY heard that in Iceland on December 24, families exchange books and spend the evening reading and drinking chocolate, or possibly eating chocolates. So we also submitted our chocolate preferences – dark or milky, soft or chewy, favorite brand… Turns out caramel sea salt/dark chocolate is the winner. Ghirardelli was the most popular brand. Seventeen family members participated.

Here’s the outcome:

We didn’t photograph the chocolate. Use your imagination!

*In case you are wondering, I used GoogleTranslate to approximate “merry” or “happy”. I wish you a Gleodileg Jolabokaflod! You can pronounce it any way you like.

I already finished reading my gift book. Stay tuned for a review!

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Religion and Family Life

‘Til Faith Do Us Part – How Interfaith Marriage Is Transforming America by Naomi Schaefer Riley, 2013.

I grabbed this from the “new arrivals” shelf. The author is a newspaper writer who was able to commission the extensive survey on which this book was based. She is very careful to ground her assertions within the data.

Riley says that Americans are not, by and large, “intentional” about marriage. We plan and work towards our careers. We may place a priority on living in a specific city or state. But we don’t PLAN marriage. I “came of age” in the sixties, when talking about what we wanted or expected from marriage became almost taboo. Young women were told to plan on self sufficient independence and if love, relationship and marriage happened, that was “nice”. What were young men being told? No idea…

Religion is important to many Americans, but most of us take a “break” from religious practice from the end of high school until some time perhaps a decade down the road. And so many important things happen in that decade! Very few people invest that time in deciding about matters of faith.

Riley takes a careful look at our attitudes towards diversity. It is widely accepted as a good thing. Riley’s conclusion: “Religion is not race and marriage is not a public school.” Intermarriage is harder (judged by divorce rates) than marriage within one’s faith, so looking for a religiously compatible spouse in not necessarily being prejudiced. Diversity within a family can have good impacts, but it also makes marriage difficult.

Maybe you caught the recent kerfuffle caused by a woman who said she now wished she had found a husband while at Princeton. She was roundly scolded for being “conniving”, but replied that the pool of really bright, interesting men is limited, and her critics were being unrealistic.

Riley thinks young adults should talk much more about religion, family life and community as they are courting and marrying. The relative “vacuum” (freedom?) of our twenties doesn’t last. We live our lives among webs of interconnection.

I particularly recommend this book to people who work with young adults, whether as teachers, counselors or religious leaders.