It was 2012. My parents had moved out of the area and it was the first Christmas season I was spending on my own with the kids. December 1st had rolled in, and I was completely unprepared. A few days into the month, James & I were engaged, and suddenly it felt like everything that had been in upheaval was beginning to settle. We looked ahead to Christmas with anticipation. Feeling overwhelmed, but really wanting to mark the season. And so, we sat down one evening mid-month to draw up a new family tradition. 12 days of advent. There was no way I could come up with a month full of gifts or activities to count down to Christmas, but 12 days; that was something I felt like we could pull together. And so, every year since, that’s how we’ve celebrated the anticipation of Christmas together. It’s one of my favorite traditions we’ve done as a family.
It’s pretty simple really. 12 envelopes. 12 cards. 12 activities ranging from the simple (read the Christmas story) to the more time-intensive (make and decorate Christmas cookies). Every year, we modify slightly to fit our schedule. Here’s our 2017 plan :
+ Go see the Nutcracker
+ Pick out a Christmas ornament at Target
+ Go see Christmas Lights at Bull Run Park
+ Bake treats for neighbors
+ Buy gifts for a child in need
+ Watch White Christmas
+ Make & Decorate Christmas Cookies
+ Deliver cookies to neighbors
+ Make a gingerbread house
+ Go see Zoo Lights
+ Read the Christmas Story
+ Watch It’s a Wonderful Life & Order Chinese (our cmas eve tradition)
We celebrate our Christmas early due to holiday travel, so we kicked off Sunday. But here’s the good news: If you want to do something like this with your family, you can start Wednesday! No more feeling guilty every time December 1st sneaks up on you and all those pictures of families doing Christmas activities start popping up in your feeds (or is that just me?!). Sure, things don’t always go according to plan. (We’ve abandoned and adapted many an activity!) But having this guideline has been such a helpful way for us to slow down and actually accomplish some of the things I always hope to do in the midst of the craziness that is December. Happy Christmas!