Christmas is almost upon us. This year, even more than years past, I am so looking forward to its arrival. The season has felt particularly magical this time around. HP really gets it this year, in the best possible way. There is also something special about the fact that this is the first year we will be celebrating in the home we hope to be in for many years to come. I get a huge smile on my face just thinking about how much delight there will be on Christmas morning.
A snapshot of what's been happening in our home leading up to the big event:
Evening walks. Neil has been taking the kids on a walk to see Christmas lights most nights after dinner. Sometimes it is only up and down our block, sometimes they go farther afield. The kids love the novelty of being outside while it is dark; it is the perfect activity to end the day.
Answers to "what's Santa going to bring you?" HP: a drum, a plant, and a candy can (not misspelled, that's what he says). E: "Christmas!"
Food traditions, new and old, including Chex mix, cheese ball, enchiladas, egg and sausage breakfast casserole, and starting this year, my great-grandmother's cinnamon roll recipe. There are so many things to love this time of year, but delicious and nostalgic food ranks high up there for me.
Going to a play with Neil. We saw a local production of Oliver! We hadn't been out together in what felt like ages. I would love to make seeing a play or musical performance something we do every year in the week leading up to Christmas.
Playing Santa. HP determines who is the kid, the parent, and the Santa. "Santa" wraps gifts in cloth napkins and puts them under the tree at which point the kid wakes up and gets to open them. This process brings an astonishing about of joy and entertainment to HP. E enjoys it, too, when she isn't upset about things she wants to play with being wrapped up. Neil likes being the kid as that means he gets to pretend to sleep on the couch while the present wrapping is happening. Something for everyone!
Reading all the Christmas stories. We have many favorites, but HP especially loves the ones by Jan Brett. And for some reason both kids are drawn to Fancy Nancy and Maisy books. Starting the weekend after Christmas we have been reading Christmas books all day every day.
Being part of a church community. We started regularly going to church this summer and joined earlier this month. I so love the ritual and community church provides. It is important to us that our kids have a place to explore their beliefs and the beliefs of others and--most importantly--put those beliefs into action through the social justice work of the church. (Bonus: the music is phenomenal.) Finding church can be a challenging prospect and I am thankful to have found a good fit for our family. On a related note: children's Christmas pageant tomorrow. Excited doesn't even begin to describe.
Limiting gifts. Neil and I aren't exchanging gifts and we are keeping it simple for the kids, which leaves more time to just be and less time spent shopping and/or thinking about shopping. A win all around.
Wishing you all a holiday that is merry, warm, and bright.
(p.s.--You can hear more about our Christmas traditions on the latest Friendlier podcast.)