Friday, December 21, 2012

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Herrington Family Christmas Activities and Traditions 2012

I've read several posts in the last few weeks about Christmas traditions, so I thought it would be fun to share ours. I've written this kind of post a couple of times, but it's the kind of thing that's always evolving and changing and I think it's fun to look back and see what we've done various years. I also think reading other people's traditions posts is really fun, so I thought I'd share!

- I let Annie help me decorate this year and that was fun. It was also super hard. I'm not Type-A in the sense that everything has to look perfect, but I'm kind of obsessive about just wanting to do things my way, in my time. Sure enough, we had a broken ornament (that's why I did the top of the tree with the special/fragile ones late). Anyway, she loved it so much it really didn't matter.  She's to the age where when I can involve her, I want to. It's neat having a baby that grown!

- This year we took Annie to see The Nutcracker and it was a big hit. I hope this is something we'll continue to do every year because she loved it SO much and I also think it's create for her to have exposure to things like the ballet early on. I hope that in the next couple of years we can find something special for Graves that will be his "thing". I mean, I fully intend to take him to the ballet when he's old enough, but I hope we can find something that will appeal to him and be significant like this seemed to be for Annie. 

- We've driven around and looked at the lights a couple of times and the children seem to love that. I think it's such of fun, easy Christmas activity and I know I loved doing it growing up.

- We have a big collection of Christmas books that I get down with the decorations and Annie has really enjoyed going through those (though she does gravitate to a few most nights- primarily the Nutcracker book my mom sent over).
- Annie and I have been reading The Twenty Four Days Before Christmas. It's about a family and their Christmas preparations. Each day, they do one "special thing" to get ready. The book has sort of an old-fashioned feel to it and it just seems classic to me. It's a bit over Annie's level, but I'm a big believer in spending part of read-aloud time with books that are above a child's level and AP has really enjoyed it. [Peyton, convinced she'd like being read anything to, had me start reading from a random magazine. She insisted she really did like the book best.]

- One silly tradition I can't ever imagine stopping is our matching Christmas pjs. They've changed over the years, and this year is super simple, but it's something that I think is so fun and special and so "us".

- I will always, always, always send a Christmas card and letter. Seriously, if not one other person did. I'd feel like a fool, but I'd do it. I've heard they're going out of fashion (it's becoming a "lost art"), but it's special to me and people are kind enough to consistently, year after year, let me know they appreciate it.

- I haven't done a ton of "baking", but we have had several parties that I needed to take food to. Again, AP is old enough to really want to be involved and so, when it's reasonable, I've tried to let her help me in the kitchen. This is something I need to do more of all year, but it's especially fun, I think, during the holidays.

- My mom always baked a Santa cake and that's something we have to make happen at least once over the season.

There's actually two components to this category: service and reflection.

- For years, I (among many, many other Southern ladies) have kicked off the season with a shopping trip to the infamous Mistletoe Marketplace toward the end of November. This year I had the privilege of spending twelve-ish hours serving there instead. I can't even tell you what an awesome way it was to start the holidays.

- Our church does Angel Tree and Operation Christmas Child. I coordinated the Angel Tree effort this year and our family sent a couple of shoe boxes. It's neat as Annie gets older to pick a child her age to buy for. I know she enjoyed shopping for the shoe boxes!  

- We also typically ring the bell by the red kettle for the Salvation Army.  In previous years, we've done it as a family, but things just didn't work out this year (and to be honest, I don't think Graves would have made it long). I hope we can get back to all of us ringing! 

- We usually go to a nursing home and carol each year (with church typically, but this year we went on a school field trip). That's something I definitely want to keep up. I don't think I used to realize how much it truly means to those elderly people, but they're always so appreciative (especially if you also visit with them). 

- This isn't really Christmas-y, but similarly to how Mistletoe kicked off my service commitments, I feel like spending November in a very intentional state of thanksgiving did a lot to "center" me. These two months have been busy and hectic to varying degrees, and it was nice to have a spirit of "Eucharisto" at their core.
- We did some very simple advent activities this year. I read some to Graves (and Annie, but this was the one thing I've tried to do primarily for him) from this baby Bible.

We've also been using this Advent calendar/nativity with Annie. I love it because it's a nativity that she can play with, but it also serves as an Advent ccalendar. She thinks looking behind the doors is so much fun, and we don't have to introduce a daily piece of chocolate or a cheap toy [not that anything is truly wrong with those things, I just like that it incorporates what's really significant and gets her excited about that].

- Other than that, we've been doing some singing and we've been talking a lot about why we celebrate Christmas, but that's basically it.

- One thing I *always* mean to do is to bake/make a card for our service workers. I specifically would really like to encourage our mail lady and the garbage me. I think about this every year, but usually it's when we're right down to the wire. Anyway, I need it make it a priority.

- As I said, I'd really like to find some special activity that can become a yearly thing for Graves, assuming the ballet will continue to be so special to Annie.

- We don't do Santa, so we clearly weren't going to introduce Elf on the Shelf, but I do think the idea of looking for something each morning is so much fun. My friend Kristal kind of tailored the idea to suit her needs and moves around a toy Mary and Joseph for her little boy to find each morning. Another family I heard about did the same thing with the wise men. In either case, they wind up at the manger on Christmas morning. I thought either would be super fun and something easy to introduce. 

- I'm kind of considering doing the twenty five books thing. We have plenty of books and I think it would be fun. The trouble would be convincing Peyton to let me waste all that wrapping paper. Surely there's a way around this, too, though? Maybe I could creatively wrap them in reusable things- hide them under their pillows one day, wrap them in a blanket another, have them sitting under the tree one day- who knows?

- Based on the book I shared that Annie and I are reading, I think it would be fun to have a special activity each day, too. The ONLY way I would do this is to keep it simple. Basically, a lot of them would be things I was already planning on doing- baking for the trash collectors, going to see lights, watching a Christmas movie, ect. I just think it would be fun, espesially since I hope the book becomes a tradition, to do something like this.

What a wonderful time of year!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I made cookies for our garbage men, put them in a tin and sat them on top of the garbage can the night before they came (they come early)....and it came a monsoon in the middle of the night. I have no idea if they survived.