I love the holidays. The more time I accumulate on this planet, the more I appreciate the brilliance of turning the weeks headed into the darkest day of the year into a season of anticipation, warmth, and light. This is one reason I’ve never been big on simplifying Christmas. Really, what am I saving my energy for?
Of course, this year will look different. But I believe that by being clear on the things I do want to do, that will make the season feel festive for me, and the absence of other things won’t be quite so dispiriting. So, with that in mind, here is my 2020 Holiday Fun List.
Get matching family PJs. We still have ours from last year (Pajamagram; the set with the blue henley tops and snowflake plaid pants). Indeed, I ordered new, bigger pairs of that set for the two members of the family who grew the most, figuring this update would suffice. However, when I asked the kids what they wanted to do for Christmas, getting new family matching PJs came up. So I ordered another round in a different pattern. We won’t do this every year (how many pairs of pajamas does one person need?) but since we spend 90 percent of our time sitting around the house in our pajamas right now, this year was a yes. Both patterns are not really Christmas-y, so we can wear them past Christmas morning.
Have the kids give each other presents. They enjoyed shopping for each other last year, and I like the idea of encouraging them to think about other people. So this is a keeper (even if the 11-year-old has noted, pointedly, that the 13-year-old is not using the headphones he gave him last year, so he is taking them for his own use).
See Longwood Gardens’ Christmas lights. We have our tickets! Sadly, no breakfast with Santa option, but as far as I could tell, they didn’t do the breakfasts last year either, so I can’t blame the pandemic for that.
Go to the Morris Arboretum’s holiday garden railway. We have our tickets for this too. Morris is in Philadelphia and restrictions are tightening, but I think that means they will be doing this outdoor railway/lights display without any food/drink options available.
Do our own pageant. My kids have been in the church Christmas pageant for a great many years. Since I doubt the church will host a crowded pack-them-in-the-pews family service (strange to think that a year ago, that didn’t seem reckless…) we need to come up with some other way to experience the Christmas story. There are different forms this could take. We could just read the traditional passage from Luke out loud. Or…well…there are seven of us. I’ve got a baby (even if he would crawl out of a manger). My eldest could narrate, and the middle three kids could shift between being an angel, shepherd and sheep set to becoming the three wise men. We shall see how elaborate I feel like going here.
Bake cookies. Lots and lots of cookies. Maybe banket too (a Dutch almond pastry my mom makes as a gift for people). My husband often gets into a weekend bread-making kick, so this will be the Christmas of carbs.
Visit Dutch Wonderland + the Choo Choo Barn. We make an annual trip to Lancaster. The Choo Choo Barn is a magnificent holiday train display. Dutch Wonderland has great lights — though this year it appears it will be drive-through only. We wouldn’t go just to drive through (my kids have expressed this after a few Halloween drive-through experiences) but combining the two could be fun.
Find a new (or at least another) light display. There are many options — ones at the local zoos, Six Flags, Sesame Place, downtown…I’d like to find one we’ll keep in our future repertoire.
Sing. So I won’t be singing in or listening to any traditional Christmas choral concerts this year, which makes me sad. But! My church has continued to have our choir’s professional ringers record service music — while wearing these hilarious beak-looking singing masks, and standing very far apart in a very large sanctuary — that gets emailed to the congregation. A few of us regular folks have been allowed to join them each week, and so I’m attending rehearsals and recording now and in December. It’s a very different choral experience to sing masked and no where near other people. It means you really need to know your voice part — there’s no getting it from your neighbor! But wow is it nice to sing again. I even enjoyed singing through all seven verses of O Come O Come Emmanuel the other night. I also plan to listen to my Christmas choral music CDs.
Celebrate my birthday and the baby’s birthday. We now have two December birthdays in our family. My husband and I are going to do a date night to celebrate mine — exact plan depending on what is open — and I need to figure out what the little guy’s first birthday will look like. Not that he either knows or cares, but I want to set the expectation that we *will* celebrate it, because the immediate post-Christmas spot seems like it could be a tough one for a kid (“Hey, didn’t you already just get a lot of stuff for Christmas…?” I imagine some readers with late December birthdays can relate.)
What’s on your 2020 holiday fun list?
Photo: Family pajamas. This little version was bought in anticipation of Kid #5’s arrival. And now he is celebrating with us!