Let the Christmas season begin!

There have been lots of signals and events that should have let loose the fairy dust of the Christmas season – putting up the tree, Christmas music taking over the radio, wrapping presents – but for some reason it didn’t really hit me until last night. Gracie and Bee came home from their week-long stay with their dad and stepmom and after a nice roast beef dinner chock full of stories, stories, and more stories, the girls remembered that it was December.

“Mom! That means we can start our candy calendars! And the family calendar!” they yelled. Yes, yelled. Bless them.

“And unwrap a book from under the tree, too,” I reminded them.

We have quite a few traditions. The candy calendar is a holdover from my childhood. Just the cheap cardboard and plastic kind where you find the correctly numbered window, tear open the flap, and find a small piece of candy. The Family Advent(ure) Calendar is this:

Paperchain

Every year I carefully plot out family activities for each night, choosing easy ones for the nights when the girls will be at their dad’s house for dinner, and selecting ones for me (like wrapping gifts or Christmas shopping for our angel family) for when the girls are gone for the weekend. It’s a leetle bit involved, trying to find a blend of favorite activities, new activities, and making sure they all fall on the right days. (For instance, I’ve found that writing a Gratitude List works better when it falls closer to Christmas, and the girls get impatient if I don’t frontload some of the more fun, hands-on activities.)

More importantly, though, I realized last night just how much this tradition means to the girls. They were super excited – almost more excited than they were to see me again. (Okay, not really. But yes.) Their excitement wasn’t even dimmed by the fact that they gleefully predicted the night’s activity, probably because it’s been the first activity ever since we began the tradition – making paper chains to count down to Christmas.

Paperchain1

Paperchain2 Paperchain3

The girls were thrilled! Bee got a little down at one point because she wasn’t as skilled as her sister at cutting paper chains, but I quickly stepped in and asked if she wanted help. Sure she’d get better if she practiced on her own, but the point of family advent(ure) activities is to have fun and laugh. Bee was quite happy once she had a helper to boss around, and pretty soon we had paper chains dangling next to their stockings and a bunch of Christmas spirit bouncing around.

Then it was on to the books. I can’t remember now where I got the idea, but it was from one of the many blogs I started reading when the girls were little. The idea is to wrap all of the Christmas books and put them together somewhere like in a basket, by the fireplace, or under the tree, which is what I chose. Each night, the girls choose one book (or two, depending on how many are left), unwrap it, and we read it outloud. Gracie mutters every year that I don’t let her read, but by golly I claim that right as mama. And even though they know every book that’s under there (save one or two new ones I sneak in), they still love the magic of getting to unwrap a “gift” and hear the same story they’ve heard a hundred times. It’s part of what makes Christmas for them.

Books

Who knows if these traditions will last as the girls grow and get older. I hope they will. I hope they’re traditions the girls will pass down to their children. But what I really love is that for right now, these small things are what make Christmas for us. Let the season begin!

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One Response to “Let the Christmas season begin!”

  1. Kathy Says:

    I don’t think the kids and I have ever made paper chains at home. Maybe this year as they are all about the decorating. That would be kind of fun. I love your traditions – I hope they stick around for a while.

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