Christmas is still a while off. But after two years of somewhat limited holiday celebrating, I am excited about making lots of holiday memories. Every year, I post a Holiday Fun List of activities I’d like to do to make the season feel special. This year’s list is pretty long but that’s because there have been lots of winners in the past that I want to keep incorporating!
Here’s what I’m planning to do this year:
Run a Turkey Trot with my eldest. We’re signed up for a local 5k on Thanksgiving morning. He’s asked that I run at his pace, which I certainly will, but I’ve noted that if he trains in any significant way, this 5’10’’ young man would outpace his mother easily. My time goal…is to have a good time.
Make sure the kids see the Polar Express. I’m not much of a movie person but my church does an annual Polar Express viewing in mid-November that at least some of my kids will attend (likely with my husband, who is a movie person).
Read Christmas books with the 2-year-old. I pulled our collection of Christmas stories out from the closet, and he and I are working through them. I’ll likely try to pull the 7-year-old into this as well. Five kids in we’ve got a lot of stories! There are the classics, like The Grinch, but new ones we’ve added too, like Five Sleeps Till Christmas, which is definitely one of the better entries in the Children’s Books By Celebrities category (I’d add The Book With No Pictures and the Freckleface Strawberry books into that category as well…but those are not holiday books. I digress.). The upside of starting in early November is that we have time to re-read some hits, but if he wants to read Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo some night, it’s all good.
Build the Lego holiday main street. It’s ordered, so now my 13-year-old and 11-year-old and I will need to put it together. I plan to display our various Christmas houses and scenes we’ve built in past years somewhere (somewhere high…as the 2-year-old has been eyeing them…)
Get matching family pajamas. To be sure, we already own three sets of matching jammies from years past. But folks keep growing and since the kids mentioned this as a request, I will make it happen. (We normally order from PajamaGram, though since we own several of their most popular sets, I am open to other retailers.)
Have the kids give presents to each other. A few years ago I thought I would do this as a “secret Santa” type thing, but that brought out all my children’s worst tendencies, and within ten minutes everyone knew who had chosen who and there was screaming. So I’m going to do this as “everyone buys for everyone,” which will be some amount of work, but we will probably give the kids fewer presents from us, so it will all work out. I am also going to experiment with a kid giving night (based on an idea I heard from our Best of Both Worlds Patreon community). My idea is to give each child a charity budget and ask them to select where they’d like it to go. My goal is to do this in one night so we can research and talk about organizations together.
Welcome Sassy the Elf. The Elf on the Shelf has been visiting us since 2013, so I guess he (or possibly she) is not going to stop now. Will Sassy find our new house? Will Sassy confine him/herself to two rooms, as happened in the old house? We shall see. We can rule out the room with the dog as I could see that ending badly. But Sassy was definitely requested, so Sassy will be making an appearance.
Do breakfast with Santa. We used to do this at Longwood Gardens, but they seem to have stopped offering it. I wouldn’t have tried to find a replacement but this activity topped my daughter’s list of requests, so it is happening. She did the research to find a breakfast seating at a store at the mall. All I had to do was buy the tickets. Older kids are great!
See the Nutcracker. I love seeing this ballet, and interestingly enough, it is always my older two boys who agree to go with me. My favorite part is probably the snowflake dance (with boy choir accompaniment).
Go to NYC. We have a holiday party there again this year, and my 15-year-old really wants to go see the city, so we will aim to make a trip.
See holiday trains. We’ll do this several places! I plan to go to the Brandywine River Museum, which always has a large display, and then we’ll stop by Longwood (I got tickets for the weekend after Thanksgiving). We have tickets for a member night at the Morris Arboretum, which also has a great train display, and we plan to go to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania (and likely stop by the Choo Choo Barn!) one weekend in December.
See one other light display. There are a few around here — Luminature at the zoo, Tinseltown out in Oaks — but this might actually be an early January activity as they tend to stay up through the twelve days of Christmas. I mean, why not? Everyone’s festive before Christmas. It’s the dreary winter days after when you need the lights. I might aim to get some festive lights in my own trees…we shall see.
Sing the Messiah choruses. My church choir will be doing several of these. I don’t think we’re doing the entire Messiah but more of a “greatest hits” version of it, which is probably wise.
Play Christmas carols. This should make my three-times-a-week piano practicing more festive.
Watch my kids in the Christmas pageant. After two years, it is back! I have two children who will be participating. I will also sing in the 7:30 p.m. Christmas Eve service. My family has not reached the stage where I can do the 11 p.m. service — maybe someday.
Bake. Will I be able to find a non-dairy Christmas cookie recipe that doesn’t make me sad? We shall see. Or I’ll just take the hit — the result seems to be that I wake up coughing from the dairy-induced congestion, which isn’t fun, but isn’t the end of the world. Maybe I take one day to eat stuff with butter and then refrain the rest of the time. (And now I will stop writing about this, because middle-aged food issues are pretty close to the most boring topic possible).
Be in a good mood. Ok, this is just a reminder as the kid activities stack up, including early ones which mean all of us are getting less sleep, and as I have been recording in the cold garage because the bathroom renovations are so noisy, and as the two-year-old is being clingy because childcare changes are hard, that this can be a really fun time of the year. I really do want to enjoy it. We only have all of us at the house full-time for three more years or so and I want to really savor this time. The holidays are good for savoring, in so many ways.
How about you — what’s on your holiday fun list?