Tim and I made the decision not to go home (our childhood home, Maine) for Thanksgiving or Christmas this year. We didn’t go to Maine for either of these holidays last year, but the difference is that my parents where with us for Thanksgiving and Tim’s parents for Christmas. This year it’s just the 5 of us. This was not an easy decision to make, but after a lot of debate (and frequent checking of our “savings” account), it has ultimately been the right decision for our family.
We’ve recently come to realize that having made this decision, the holiday is now entirely our own: it is ours to do what we want with. The influence of our own childhood traditions are less strong being away from our parents and siblings, and we now get to decide which ones we want to keep, which ones we’d like to set aside, and which new ones we might like to establish. We are deciding what we want to teach our kids about the meaning of Christmas.
Personally, what excites me most about these holidays, but Christmas in particular, is being together with family. It’s is about people and experiences I get to have with them. It’s about giving my time and energy – and them giving theirs – in a way that energizes and excites us all. It’s about creating experiences that we share. (A tall order, I know.)
I had hoped to have an advent calendar ready this year where each day there was some small activity that we did together, even if it was something as simple as taking a walk after dinner. But it wasn’t until November 29th when Tim said “We should get an advent calendar” that I remembered. So while the calendar isn’t driving our activities this year, we are being mindful about creating a sense of excitement and encouraging togetherness over these last couple of weeks. For Tim and I, Christmas feels far less exciting given that we’re not traveling to our extended families, and it would be easy to let that feeling take over the house. But I have had to remind myself that for our kids it doesn’t matter where we are as long as we help to foster the sense of wonder and love that comes this time of year.
Next year I’ll be more organized and these activities will have a more formal system for implementation. For now, we’re making our list and checking it twice. Some of the activities have been a hit with the whole family, others not so much. But it’s a work in progress.
- Get a Christmas tree
- Decorate tree
- Take a walk around the neighborhood at night and look at all the decorations
- Bake and decorate Christmas cookies
- Decorate bushes outside
- Make wreaths or garland
- Make holiday card
- Write a letter to Santa
- Take a walk in the woods
- Build a snowman (weather permitting!)
- Make cards for teachers
- Go to toy store, select a gift to give away
- Make cinnamon-scented ornaments for tree
- Watch Christmas parade & tree lighting
- Have a dance party to Christmas music
- Make & decorate a gingerbread house
- Wrap presents
- Make a gift for grandparents (or anyone else)
- Open new Christmas PJs and wear for family movie night