Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Countdown to Christmas

"It's the most wonderful time of the year."

Oh yes, I am going there. Christmas is coming and with a toddler, the time that is left will be flying by. That's why I'm already making plans*. No, I haven't yet put up any decorations, but only because the skeletons, bats, and spiders still need to be taken down. One of the projects I'm currently thinking on is a Christmas countdown or, for the more traditional, an Advent calendar.

Last year, my friend Virginia told me about a tradition her family has for the days leading up to Christmas. Instead of the traditional small gift or ornament contained in the calendar pocket or drawer, she writes notes. Each note lists an activity that her family will do together that day. She mentioned including the Santa Train trip and Santa at the Mall visit on hers. She said one of the best parts of her calendar is that she can always peek ahead after the girls are in bed and make sure the next day's activity is achievable in light of all the next day holds. If not, she simply does a switch-a-roo that the girls never know about.

I loved her idea for both its flexibility (you can wait until the broadcast date of certain holiday specials are announced) and adaptability to children's ages (you know, for those who stop believing in the big man). I am definitely hoping to make this a new tradition in our house.

Right now, I'm only in the planning stages of listing out the "must do" items and brainstorming for others.
Here's a few already on my list:

  • Make sugar cookies.
  • Go out for peppermint frozen custard.
  • Watch Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas (NOT the Jim Carrey version)
  • Write letter to Santa.
  • First reading of The Night Before Christmas
  • Shop for toy to donate to Toys for Tots
So far, I only have about half of the days filled so I need your help. What tradition(s) does your family have for the lead-up to Christmas that you would include in your countdown?

*Please don't hate me for being an over-prepared type A person. It's just in my nature but only when things I enjoy are involved. My laundry will sit in baskets for days weeks waiting to be folded while I browse Etsy for Advent calendars. Priorities, people.


Kelly Jernigan said...

Sounds like fun! You covered most of our holiday traditions, but here are a few I always look forward to in our house:

-picking out a special ornament that pertains to "2009" (or said year) for the tree
-opening one gift the night before Christmas (a long standing tradition between my brother & I since we were kids)
-drinking hot cocoa with marshmallows in front of the fireplace
-spending at least one evening Christmas shopping in the hustle & bustle of it all & then having a relaxing dinner to people watch all the other frenzied shoppers :)
-going shopping with my Mom and/or Dad to help select a gift for the other
-exchanging Christmas cookies & recipes

I'm sure the month of December will be fun at your house - you are so creative ;) I'm getting into the Christmas spirit just thinking about it!

Jo from Dixie said...

I love your teacher spirit shining through. You are always so well planned out for everything. I wish I was half as organized as you were. Some of the things we hold as traditions are:

*photos with Santa a week or two before Christmas
*make reindeer food to place on the lawn on Christmas Eve so the reindeer know where to stop
*make and decorate sugar cookies. I bake the cookies, the kids decorate them.
*adorn the tree as a family
*take family photos for the Christmas cards
*attend Christmas Eve service at our church and then rush home in hopes of being greeted by Santa on the firetruck as he rolls through our neighborhood tossing candy to the kids standing on the street.
*attending our annual Christmas parade
*making Breakfast Casserole for Christmas morning breakfast
*baking a birthday cake for Jesus

Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Amy said...

decorating the tree (or maybe just putting the star/snowflake on top), making peppernuts, watching White Christmas (or Holiday Inn), crafting/addressing Christmas cards,going to Christmas Eve services at church

Virginia Hall said...

Oh - cool, I was referenced on your blog!! (glad I read it... the mention of Christmas on FB got me curious! I'm already trying to think of Christmas card poses/ideas!) - the other neat thing about THE CALENDAR (as we call it) - is it can also be a gift, as in "go find the present hiding under the angel..." and you're off on a hunt for a piece of candy, stickers, or something else Christmasy... so it doesn't always have to be an event. On days when you just need something easy, have some new holiday socks or something else stashed away to surprise 'em with! I love some of your ideas and plan to put them in my little notebook. You're such an inspiration, Abby - thank you!! Give my regards to the group tomorrow... -Va.

@juniandpip said...

All very fun -- although as a girl with an early December birthday, I like to put off too much Christmas prep until I'm done celebrating myself ;)

Other specials to watch:
- Charlie Brown
- Winnie the Pooh and Christmas, Too
- 'Twas the Night Before Christmas (with the voice of Joel Grey)
- Rudolph

Other activities:
- making apple cider
- picking out mistletoe or other decorations at the farmer's market
- taking treats to a neighbor
- taking photos to use for Christmas thank-you note postcards

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

We go to a botanical garden all decked out in lights and our church has a live Streets of Bethlehem which is part of our holiday countdown.
The fun stuff trumps the "work" of Christmas any day here:)
I want you to know I linked up to your blog via Ecowomen today...so if you see traffic up, that may be why. Hope you don't mind.

GRUMP said...

An evening drive to see the Christmas lights and then salted caramel at Starbucks?
Somehow you seem to have missed "It's A Wonderful Life" !!!

Chelsea + Jonathan said...

Singing Christmas carols to neighbors or just in a park, baking snickerdoodles, taking extra blankets, coats, and toys (not new stuff but stuff gathering dust at your house) to a local homeless shelter, doing a family craft together...

Heidi said...

Picking out a Christmas tree. When I was a kid we used to go to a tree farm and tag/cut our own tree. It was always a highlight of the season.