This is my favorite time of year! I love preparing my home for the holidays! When I ask myself why I love to “deck the halls” for the season it is hard to pick one specific reason. The only word I can think of is “tradition”. Not one tradition but many. Most of my current traditions have been created by my husband and myself collected from our own holiday memories. I have wonderful memories of the holidays and it fills me with joy as I prepare my family for the countdown to Christmas.
My grandfather loved Christmas. As a teenager I witnessed him scoring deals the Day after Christmas on as much holiday decorations as he could. One Christmas he even had an artificial tree on his front porch! He was the type of grandfather that would place one of those motion sensor activated Santa Clauses in the entry to the living room. Every time someone walked by it, it would chime out a loud “HO HO HO!” and belt out a Christmas song. By the end of vacation he had his grandchildren reenacting a scene from “Mission Impossible” to get through the hallway without it going off. Now, MY home doesn’t get that crazy, but I love to have fun during the holidays like he did.
During my teaching years, my assistant Maria loved to bake for the kids. On the last day of school we would have a huge after school party for the daycare kids. Maria would start baking chocolate chip cookies from scratch at about 1pm. The entire school was filled with the smell. Maria knew when that bell rang more than just the day care kids would be begging for a bite. So, she made enough that anyone who stopped by would get one. I would roll out the old record player into the middle of the room and dig out the vinyl “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” and we turned the lights down low. We would turn on Christmas lights and Maria would be wearing her red nose – you know, the kind that lights up – and together the entire room of kids and adults would sing together. Maria’s spirit of giving and selflessness has always stayed with me, but her legacy is ignited in my heart during the holidays.
Before I was a mother, one of my student’s parents invited Dave and I into their home for dinner during the holiday season. Her home was filled with Santas. I asked if she was a collector and she said she wasn’t. She shared how her family celebrates their own version of “Saint Nicholas Day”. On that day, they bring out all the Santa decorations and share the story of Saint Nicholas. Then, at the end of the day, away went all the Santas until next year. Dave and I loved the idea so much that we have our own version of Saint Nicholas Day, this year on December 6th, where we give to someone in secret. It is one of our most powerful and meaningful traditions.
There are so many wonderful memories that keep the holidays alive in our hearts every year. No matter how you celebrate, creating meaningful memories is intentional. Like Heidi said in Tuesday’s post, we make a choice to actually create JOY during the season. No matter the challenges that we are going through in our lives, we can physically STOP and take a moment to do something out of the ordinary through out Christmas.
My family does just this with our December advent “countdown”. Every day we do an activity that helps us stop and enjoy the season.
I pre-plan each daily activity. Some of them are simple like creating a holiday craft, movie night, or reading a holiday story. Others are family traditions like driving to see the lights, Saint Nicholas Day, or having an indoor snowball fight with rolled up white socks while playing “Let It Snow”! I have learned over the years to be flexible with the activities and if I need to switch them around while the kids are sleeping the night before, then I do! If the kids are sick and we can’t go serve our community on a particular day, then it’s ok! The point is to create memories – whatever those may be. (I buy a couple extra holiday stories for back up and I am good! Ha!)
This year I used Heidi Swapp’s Merry Banner and hung handmade boxes, envelopes, and holiday paper from DCWV to it. I typed up all the activities on paper and trimmed them to slip right inside the pockets and boxes. A little piece of chocolate is added for a traditional touch. I found the red drawstring bags at the dollar section in Target. The Gingerbread Man is from the Giving Tree at my daughter’s school, where the school has privately gathered names from families in the school that need help this Christmas. I love that my kids will be able to know they helped bless someone right in our own community.
Need some ideas for your own advent or countdown? Check out the photo scavenger hunt list for our It’s a Heidi Holiday! Social Media Event beginning, Monday December 3rd, 2018. You can click on the free printable download here. You could even hang it on your wall for a holiday bucket list!
My kids are 11 and 5 and the excitement hasn’t changed. In fact, this year they rushed to bed early so that I could hang this advent up without them seeing anything! Ha! I love that they are filled with the spirit of Christmas! When they woke up in the morning to see this advent displayed for them, they danced around the room with their sing song voices ringing, “I love Christmas! I love Christmas!” What a beautiful way to create memories that will last a life-time.
Supplies | Heidi Swapp City Sidewalks (banners, Merry Wall Word, and Marquee), Heidi Swapp Christmas Cards (gold envelopes because I am using just the cards in my December countdown album), Heidi Swapp Letterboard, Heidi Swapp Letterboard Months (spray painted gold), Heidi Swapp Letterboard Letters (white and spray painted gold), Heidi Swapp Mini Lightbox, Heidi Swapp Lightbox Stand, Heidi Swapp Lightbox Holiday City Inserts (regular sized fits in the mini as show above), Heidi Swapp Lightbox Holiday Santa’s Sled Inserts, Heidi Swapp Mini Lightbox Background Inserts, Moxy Glitter Glue (added to 25 Marquee), DCWV Red and White Christmas Paper Pad, DCWV Farmhouse Christmas Paper Pad, DCWV Christmas Traditions Paper Pad, We R Memory Keepers Red and White Twine, American Crafts Thicker Alphabet Stickers