The 2021 Holiday Fun List

The past few days have definitely put me in a bah-humbug sort of mood. The toddler has had a sleep regression that involves screaming whenever he is put down in his crib. There have been late nights, and interrupted nights. Or early mornings — pick your poison. My husband took his first international business trip since the pandemic started and so I have had a real monopoly on the opportunities as far as toddler sleep issues are concerned.

Fortunately he did go down at 7:30 p.m. last night (if he was up again at 11 p.m….) which was good because I needed to record a ton of Before Breakfast episodes. I haven’t been able to do this during the day because my neighbors are putting on a new roof and hence the workers bang and run machinery intermittently from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily.

Did I mention that I am recovering from a cold? Not Covid, but not fun either.

The high schooler was supposed to take the bus this week (since I was on solo duty in the early mornings) but something went wrong two days in a row and I needed to load the three youngest kids into the van (waking two of them) to drive him to school.

I have also spent 1-2 hours on house stuff daily — including such fun activities as re-selecting carpets after realizing my first choices were not good.

So, even though it might seem a bit premature, I have been making Christmas plans. I put together my annual holiday fun list. I have been buying tickets and making reservations. For me, at least, knowing I have fun stuff coming up makes a not-so-great week feel better. I have something to look forward to! Here’s what I plan to do this year to celebrate the season:

Get matching family pajamas. They are ordered! We will open them on Christmas Eve (or the day before) I imagine, and take our family picture. I know that the 12-year-old in particular will wear them once for the picture solely as a favor to me and then never wear them again, but oh well.

See LumiNature at the zoo. I wound up purchasing tickets in advance for a lot of holiday light shows in November. I figure that the weather might be slightly warmer than in December and November weekends tend to be less busy than December ones. Plus, it stretches out the holiday fun! So we’re going to the zoo display soon. We will also go see Longwood Christmas and the holiday railway at Morris Arboretum over Thanksgiving weekend. (I may wind up getting a ticket to see Longwood solo too, as I did last year — it’s a nice family activity but sometimes the kids don’t want to linger in the same way I do…)

Take the boys to the Nutcracker. The performance is back on this year! Seeing this ballet is one of the annual events that really makes Christmas feel like Christmas to me. My two eldest children, interestingly, were the ones who raised their hands to go. We’ve got tickets (and our vaccine cards for the theater).

Go to a handful of in-person holiday parties. My husband has two festive work-related events we will be attending. Alas, between the fifth baby and the pandemic I’m not sure my festive dresses (dating back to 2018 at this point) fit me, so I will add dress shopping to the holiday fun list.

Go out for dinner for my birthday. My parents are coming to celebrate during the day (ok, the day before — my “birthday eve?”) and then stay with the kids while my husband and I go out.

Play Christmas carols on the piano. I’ll need to use the upright piano at the current house as the workmen are still pounding away over at the new one. (Much banging…I suppose my neighbors’ roof is payback for what we’ve put our neighbors at the new place through…).

Make the Lego Christmas set with whichever children wish to participate. I’m debating when to start this one as I don’t want to have small pieces and an in-progress project out while we’re showing the house. But maybe soon.

Buy holiday flowers for the house. We will need to put the poinsettias up high so babies and dogs don’t get into them. My daughter asked that I put “decorate for Christmas” generally on this list. We’ll get a tree of course, and put a wreath on the door. She wants to wrap her bedroom door in wrapping paper. This reminds me that I need to go to Costco to supplement the wrapping paper supply.

Read Christmas stories with the kids. Five kids and fourteen years in, we have a fine collection of Christmas stories. I just bought Mr. Willoughby’s Christmas Tree and the Fletcher Christmas book so we’ll add those to the list.

Visit the live nativity at church. Kind of like going to the zoo and church at the same time, I guess? There’s no Christmas pageant this year, so this will be our main Christmas service for the kids. I may sing in the Christmas Eve service of lessons and carols. They’re still limiting how many people can be in the choir loft so we will see if I make the cut…

What’s on your holiday fun list?

13 thoughts on “The 2021 Holiday Fun List

  1. For some reason, Starbucks festive drinks always make it on to my lists, even though I pretty much only go there a handful of times a year. We have Christmas lights for our house for the first time this year! Are you going to fully decorate your tree with ornaments? We are unsure how to keep our 20 month old away from them this year…advice welcome!

    1. @Jenn N – we’re debating how to keep the puppy away from the ornaments more than the toddler. Maybe we just need to put the tree somewhere totally different… In the past we’ve put anything breakable higher up! The tree looks a little funny but oh well.

  2. Your seasonal lists always make me realize how much more I love autumn and winter than spring (and let alone summer!). We love everything about these past couple and the upcoming months – the music, the decorations, the food, the smells and I wonder if that’s part of why I prefer these seasons so strongly… We are not religious, but our families are Jewish and Catholic. We savor the traditions and the food of both families… Starting with today’s lantern festival (Martinsfest), lighting the advent wreath candles every Sunday leading up the Christmas, cutting down the tree together and trimming it the day after Thanksgiving (with eggnog, always with eggnog), having a big cookie baking weekend right thereafter, celebrating Nikolaus with clementines, nuts and baked apples, doing Christmas puzzles together, making pomanders, building our family gingerbread house, attend the town tree lighting and caroling, do a drive around town to see everyone’s lights, playing the dreidel game over and over, picking a different special Hanukkah food each one of the 8 nights, pouring wax on New Year’s eve for good luck charms.. We live near Boston and the other part of what makes this season feel like it, is spending as much time as possible in the snow and on the ice – we do a lot of skiing, xc skiing and skating if we get lucky enough for December snow cover. We have a fire going pretty much every day from now until the end of March and the scent of woodsmoke always feels like home. We do attend some festive concerts and we travel for skiing/skating, but I guess for us it’s very much about appreciating our cozy home and quaint rural town. Thanks for posting your list – it makes me remember to savor these things!!

    1. Glad you liked it! And yes, this is a time to enjoy and savor. Now, the post Christmas part of winter, that I have to work on enjoying…

  3. We’re coming into the end of the school year here in Australia… we’ve got a few manic weeks of school events and work events. Then summer holidays start! The fun list includes a week of a beach holiday with friends, Christmas baking, watching some family Christmas movies & reading some favourite books

    1. @ZM – I often think about the juxtaposition of Christmas with the summer solstice in Australia – how upside down people who came from Europe must have felt there. When I was in Australia for my “spring” of 2020 (in fact, “fall” in Australia) it kept jarring me that the leaves were turning and the air getting colder as the calendar advanced into May. I went hiking and camping in Tasmania in late April/early May and the weather had me involuntarily humming Christmas carols. It was such a lesson in how the seasons set how we think about time and how unsettling that changes things you don’t even think about…
      Of course, the association of Christmas with winter is somewhat arbitrary in the first place as Jesus probably wasn’t born in December and even if he had been there wouldn’t have exactly been snow on the ground in Bethlehem…

  4. Thank you for the holiday light show reminder. I saw it and organized a preschool friend reunion at the zoo next month, so excited.

  5. You were in my head this week when I was buying/reserving a bunch of tickets for December activities. I am nowhere near being in the holiday spirit this month, but I know my anticipating self and remembering self will appreciate the botanic garden, rooftop igloo, museum lights and Nutcracker tickets. Not to mention the three kids will be out of school for a full week before Christmas, and we’ll need stuff to do!

  6. I have a 3 year old and a 4 year old. Any Christmas book recommendations that your kids enjoyed at that age?

    1. @Michelle – some of our favorites include Christmas Farm (a cute story about growing Christmas trees), Who’s That Knocking on Christmas Eve? (a story about some naughty trolls), The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (of course), Richard Scarry’s The Night Before The Night Before Christmas (about a Christmas mix-up), How Santa Got His Job and, sadly, The Elf on the Shelf.

  7. We are in the thick of planning our winter break trip to Washington DC and I asked each family member to submit 2-3 things they wanted to do/see, so I guess that’ll be most of our Holiday Fun List! In addition, I have also ordered the matching family PJs (usually it’s just the kids but I included my husband and myself too this year!) and a holiday Lego wreath (thank goodness for ordering in October!), as well as a holiday puzzle. Tomorrow we’re making pumpkin pie for our Thanksgiving dinner and I’m trying to decide whether to bake at least one kind of holiday cookie. We had to make a school change for our younger kid a couple of weeks ago and are still adjusting to the new schedule so it feels like the weekdays are really long, which makes me feel weirdly crunched for family time.

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