What's your favorite holiday tradition with your kids/family?
I have always loved the time of year between Thanksgiving and Christmas – time for friends, family and festivities – what is not to love? Until a few years ago…when I went from “this is so much fun” to feeling completely overwhelmed with all the obligations and how to juggle them. Last year I was determined to tackle the season with a well thought out plan to ensure we were spending our time wisely and enjoying ourselves more - the idea was to do one special holiday activity every day in December. This is how our "25 Days of Christmas" tradition began.
I started with a list of all the things I felt we needed to do (this would include school events, neighborhood gatherings, work celebrations) and to that I added things that had become annual traditions for us (Christmas Eve Favorite Foods meal, surprising the kids by waking them up one night to go see Christmas lights in the city) and also fun things that I had heard about or read about on other blogs that I wanted to do as well. The next step was to take the list and assign one task to each of the days on a calendar leading up to Christmas. For me, this was the hard part. It required me to be selective and also prevented me from overscheduling us, which is what typically happens and what usually leads to me feeling burned out or disappointed about having to skip things. By focusing on one activity a day, I had to make choice – and it also made me see where I wasn’t being realistic. (For example…there was no way I was going to be OK with us having evening commitments outside of the house 5 days in a row…so we had to rearrange and plan in some down time in advance. Without this system, I would have been exhausted by Wednesday, then skipped something and felt guilty about it.)
Not all of our activities involved heading to parties or events. Not all of them cost us money. Some of our absolute favorites were things we did at home – such as Frosty Day where we watched the Frosty television special and ate snowman pancakes or the day we had our homemade Who-Feast after reading the Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Several of the days weren’t about “us” at all such as the day where our activity was to make holiday gifts for our teachers or the day we wrapped presents for our extended family. Each morning, the kids would open an envelope that would announce our activity for the day - “On the 14th Day of Christmas…we are making Christmas cookies.” On several of the days, the card simply told them it was a surprise. They spent the day excited, guessing about what we’d do for our activity. After each day, I blogged about what we had done, which kept me focused on all the fun we WERE having rather than thinking about the things that I still needed to do before the 25th of the month arrived. Not everything went exactly according to our plans. We had to shuffle some activities around, improvise on occasion.