It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Well, probably not; as I write this it is 43 degrees and rainy, so there are no visions of sugar plums dancing in my head. However, the Christmas season does feature a lot of only-once-a-year festivities, and the opportunity for celebrating old traditions and creating new ones.
A few years ago, to make sure my family emerged in January with lots of Christmas memories, I began creating a holiday fun list (see 2014, 2015, 2016). Much like my summer fun list and fall fun list, the goal is to create a list of seasonal activities that some proportion of my family would enjoy.* As this list has evolved, I’ve realized that it shouldn’t be a to-do list or my calendar in December. For instance, I did not put my husband’s office holiday party on this list, even though I will probably enjoy it, as much as one enjoys an office holiday party, because it’s going to happen regardless. The point of this list is to nudge me to do things that wouldn’t automatically happen, but will make this festive season more festive.
So, without further ado, here we go:
Come up with a new Thanksgiving dish that can be “my” dish. I am hosting Thanksgiving this year for my parents and siblings plus families. We all have our traditional contributions. My sister-in-law makes amazing rolls from an old family recipe that I suspect involves a stick of butter per roll, but hey, it’s Thanksgiving! My older brother makes apple sauce. My little brother makes fudge. Costco makes pecan pie (though G made an awesome pecan pie last week, so maybe we’ll get that homemade too). I have a cranberry sauce recipe I really like, and a stuffing recipe I trot out most years. But it’s time to add something new to the repertoire! I’m looking through Cooking Light, Real Simple, Martha Stewart Living, etc.
Run long on Thanksgiving. In 2011 (7 weeks after my daughter was born, I might add), I ran a 5 mile Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning. I will probably not sign up for an actual race because of hosting logistics, but I would like to get a reasonable run in before consuming the above-mentioned rolls. Maybe I’ll get my husband or little brother to join me too.
Do a literary Advent calendar. We’ve done this for the past few years, and while we do run out of steam by about December 18 or so, it is nice to read through all our Christmas stories. I’ll wrap up 24 children’s Christmas stories, and we’ll open one and read one each night. Bonus: this might make the whole bedtime process somewhat smoother. Or at least a girl can hope.
Welcome Sassy the elf. Someone (I think my husband) purchased the whole Elf on the Shelf package in 2013, and Sassy the elf has been visiting us in December ever since. I am not a huge fan, but I have managed to convey to Sassy that his (her?) movements must be confined to the kitchen and living room, which helps somewhat.
Read A Christmas Carol. My fable has a part where the heroine views differing visions of her future, so this actually has a professional benefit. Why not see exactly how Dickens portrayed the concept of someone seeing visions of his life? I also plan to read The Little House on the Prairie Christmas stories book. I welcome other holiday book suggestions.
Bake cookies. We will definitely bake and decorate sugar cookies, but I’d like to find a second recipe that can become a family staple too. If people have suggestions for favorite Christmas cookie recipes, please share links!
Take a few half days off work to do Christmas shopping. Going to the King of Prussia mall on a weekend puts me in a bah humbug mood pretty quickly. I am just going to plan to work a few half days during December, and do my shopping when the stores are less chaotic. (I plan to do a lot of shopping online too).
Have the kids give presents to each other. In the past, we haven’t really done this, but I think it’s time for the kids to experience the thought process of figuring out what other people might like.
Go out for a nice birthday dinner. I have a December birthday, and while that has had its annoyances, the upside is that the world in general is in a more festive mood than if your birthday is in, say, early March. This celebration will probably happen after my birthday, since on my birthday itself I’m flying through O’Hare, which is no one’s idea of a good time.
Sing in a Christmas concert. For the first time in seven years, I can put this back on the list! I’ll be singing in my church choir’s Christmas concert. We’re performing Bach’s Magnificat, plus parts of the Christmas Oratorio, and a few other festive pieces.
Go to NYC with my husband. We have plans to go into NYC for a holiday party, and provided the weather is decent, we may walk around and see the lights and store windows, and go out to eat somewhere.
See the Nutcracker. I may not take any children this time, since we’re traveling over the school break, and that’s when we normally go. But that has some upsides too. I give myself permission to watch this as a video if I don’t actually make it to a live ballet performance. Maybe a matinee ticket will be a birthday present to myself.
Visit Santa at Longwood Gardens. I bought these tickets last month on the first day they went on sale. Actually, in the first five minutes they were on sale, which was approximately 3 minutes before they sold out. We’ll eat breakfast with Santa, and then get to see the greenhouse with all the gorgeous poinsettias too.
See my kids in the Christmas Eve service pageant. I signed my three big kids up for this again. Last year one was a reader, one was a wise man, and my daughter was the star of Bethlehem, an experience which may now have spoiled her for all future roles.
What’s on your holiday fun list?
*Few activities are ever fun for the whole family simultaneously.