How we did on the Christmas fun list

photo-451Granted, it is not yet Christmas. But as we are nearing the finish line, I thought I'd give an update on our holiday festivities.

December has not been a particularly easy month. I feel like I have been sick for most of it. There was the post-Thanksgiving stomach bug, with a week of reprieve, but then I came down with a cold that I am still battling. Consequently, I haven’t been running much. Running is my way of staying happy and energetic. Also, the various illnesses have kept me from sleeping well, whether I’m dealing with those long dark mornings or not.

I would not naturally be 100 percent in the Christmas spirit at the moment. So this makes me really glad that I planned ahead to make sure we’d have some fun seasonal stuff going on. I would probably not have elected to do any of this if it was just occurring to me, but thinking about it, and planning ahead, means it happened.

There were the dailies: The kids have enjoyed finding the elf. He forgot to move one night. The elf and mommy have a funny tendency to crash together! But for the most part he (or she?) has kept circling the kitchen and family room. We’ve been opening one wrapped Christmas story every day. The big kids really look forward to this, and after some fighting over the exact nature of a 3-person rotation, have accepted the order. Having a featured story daily has encouraged me to spend more time reading to the kids, which has been a long-term goal. Some books have been duds. Dear children’s book authors: not all books have to rhyme! Please don't force it just because you're writing for children. But some have been pretty cool.

I bought stockings with our names on them. We decorated our tree (see photo my mom snapped of the baby, staring in awe). We did Longwood Gardens breakfast with Santa. I had to get those tickets in October! There was a nice little Christmas moment during that experience, in that my iPhone camera broke, we forgot our other camera, and as my husband was racing to the parking lot to get his iPhone, it was our turn in line for Santa. But no worries! The people behind us took all the photos with their phones, encouraging the kids to smile, and sending me the shots afterwards. The kids liked Santa and the breakfast, and seeing the poinsettias and trains. We went to the Furry Christmas at Sesame Place, and a Christmas with the Conductor event at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Lancaster. My husband took the 8-year-old and baby to Scuba Santa at the Adventure Aquarium (I stayed with the 6- and 4-year-old, who played while I spent 3 hours wrapping presents the other day). We’ve had two rehearsals for the Christmas pageant at church. My 8-year-old is so excited to be a reader, and I've been coaching him on how one speaks in public. Slowly. Clearly. If you mess up, don't draw attention to it. Just pause and pick back up where you were. I’ve got tickets for the Nutcracker with my daughter. I hadn't thought the boys were that into it last year, so I got us matinee tickets for when they were in school, but my 8-year-old found out and was mad. So my husband got himself and the 8-year-old tickets, and they'll go to an evening performance. I quite like the idea of a father-son date to the ballet.

Then there was the adult stuff: I went to NYC for the Young New Yorkers’ Chorus holiday concert. My husband and I went to his office party. I sang a karaoke duet of a Journey song ("Don't stop believing!") with one of his colleagues. Fortunately, this hasn't seemed to harm his career.

And the family stuff: My whole family was here celebrating this weekend, and we’ll be celebrating with my husband’s family after Christmas.

So all in all, we’ve done pretty well on the festivities front. I haven’t felt too busy. Instead, when you add in two date night dinners during the month, the weekends have felt nicely full. I like knowing we have fun stuff coming up that I can look forward to. It’s made what could have been a bleak midwinter a little less blah.

If you're celebrating Christmas, what's been your favorite festive activity so far?

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15 Responses to How we did on the Christmas fun list


  1. Alissa says:

    A new to us activity this year was decorating Gingerbread houses – a friend invited us so that was nice because I didn’t have to do anything but buy a kit at the store. It was a fun evening with friends and my 3 year old was quite proud of her house. We’ve also enjoyed the usual traditions of book advent, seeing Santa and driving around to look at lights. I think next year I’m going to do one book each for the advent unwrapping – since I only have 2 girls it’s not a ton of books, plus I’m actually not that far away from owning 48 holiday/winter books with your suggestions from an earlier post it should be easy to fill in the gaps.

    • @Alissa- the kits are great. We did one from Costco. I can’t imagine doing one from scratch. Ugh.

  2. Katherine says:

    We made little loaves of banana bread and the kids made pictures for all of our neighbors on the block. That has been my favorite so far. Finally something to do with all of the art that they create! Give it away! It got a little hairy during delivery time, as the three year old wanted to give multiple loaves to his two year old best buddy across the street, and the five year old got a little wild steering his sister in the stroller, but we survived, were merry, and spread some Christmas cheer (I hope).

    • @Katherine – that sounds lovely. I love banana bread! We make it once a week or so around here.

  3. Kristen says:

    You’ve done great, especially considering that you weren’t feeling well. I’m quite impressed.

    • @Kristen – thanks, at least it wasn’t as bad as your December of pneumonia!

  4. Lacy says:

    Your reflections are helping me remember all that we Have done this season as we are all recovering from a stomach bug that hit our family of five this week. My favorite activity has been our weekly advent candle lighting and reading followed closely by celebrating my daughter’s first birthday a couple of weeks ago.

    • @Lacy- sorry to hear about the stomach bug. I hope you all are recovered!

  5. Jessica says:

    Sounds like fun Christmas festivities, I especially like the father-son date to the Nutcracker. I too had planned on only taking my daughter and me, but my 6-year-old son wanted to go too. I was so glad. I think it’s our new annual tradition (my 4 year old got to go to Costco with daddy!).

    If your kids haven’t listened to Sparkle Stories Nutcracker story, they should! I think they’ll especially enjoy it since they’ve seen the show.

    • @Jessica- we haven’t seen that story, but I’ll check it out. And Costco can be its own fun holiday tradition!

  6. Meghan says:

    We haven’t done much – husband just got back last week from 4 months overseas and it somehow didn’t occur to me that I didn’t have time to put off holidays until he was back! But we did manage a Nutcracker performance with my family the weekend of Thanksgiving, and it was really great. I have 2 boys, but they love it (and the oldest has done father-son ballet dates before – they’re so special!). And we got a tree, although my requirement that I could carry it one-handed means it’s a small one. And of course the travel…that thankfully I could put off until my husband came home! I do agree that planning ahead means things do end up happening – I’d like to do more of that next year.

    • @Meghan – four months overseas – wow. You are amazing.

    • @Meghan – you should check out the story The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree. The mom and daughter haul their big tree down the hills themselves while dad is off fighting in WWI. It’s one of the better stories we’ve read in our literary advent calendar.

      • Meghan says:

        Thanks for the suggestion! I will check it out – we are always on the lookout for good books. And honestly, I’m not amazing. At all. But my kids are, and I have some good friends, and well, there was still lots of yelling. Sigh. But it’s over for now! It’s also a lot easier to deal with a decent length of separation than constant coming and going like regular business travel, because we can adjust to a new constant routine.

  7. Marie says:

    We’ve done pretty well, thanks this year to a list I put on my cloud drive. No more scraps of paper to lose! Plus I’ll be able to review it after the holidays and see what activities we want to keep. Time seems more precious every year, and I realize some things on the list have turned into obligations rather than joyful events. Keepers include the Nutcracker, bringing our instruments to play carols at a nearby nursing home, and cookie baking, which has been skipped in the past because we figured we’d just “fit it in.” No such thing around this time of year!

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