Merry Christmas! Here’s an update on the 2022 Holiday Fun List

A toy and wrapping paper tornado seems to have torn through my house. It was a good — if long — day, but the kids seem to have mostly been happy with how things turned out. My little guy had asked Santa three times for an “octopus shark robot.” (When he saw Santa at Tinseltown, at the Railroad Museum of PA, and at the breakfast with Santa.) No such thing exists, as far as I know, but his stocking contained an octopus and shark Play-Doh set, and he played with it happily for hours yesterday. So I’d say that was a win. Nice work, Santa.

While we are very much still in the Christmas season, I thought I’d go ahead and post a run-down on the 2022 Holiday Fun List. This is the list of little adventures I make every year of things I want to do to make the holidays feel festive. Mostly there has been success! Here are my intentions and what happened…

Run a Turkey Trot with my eldest. We ran a 5k race on Thanksgiving, and finished with a better time than he thought we’d have. He’s now been trying to get his mile time down and I think we will aim to do a faster 5k in the spring. I am thrilled to have a new running buddy.

Make sure the kids see the Polar Express. They went with my husband to the showing at church, and the 2-year-old has talked all month about the boy who got to see Santa. We also listened to the story when we went to the Christmas with the Conductor event out in Lancaster.

Read Christmas books with the 2-year-old. Yes! We’ve read through a lot, including the Grinch, and Little Blue Truck’s Christmas. I hoped to pull the 7-year-old into some reading, and I did, and the 11-year-old wound up listening to a lot of the Christmas stories too. So this was nice. I’d like to continue this, though the familiarity of Christmas books leads to some natural advantages for this season. For a list of some favorites see here.

Build the Lego holiday main street. My 13-year-old and 11-year-old and I constructed this set. We did it in my office to minimize destruction by the toddler, but even so, it needed to be done while he was sleeping or elsewhere. I’m glad to have activities to do with the older kids. I wound up doing three 1000-piece Christmas-themed puzzles during the holiday season too! These I could do on the dining room table while my little guy watched videos.

Get matching family pajamas. We bought another set from PajamaGram, and all spent the day in them yesterday. The adult ones have a nice gray hoodie as the top, which got good ratings from my eldest. We now own 4 matching sets from PajamaGram, so unless they start releasing new designs we may have hit the end of the line there!

Have the kids give presents to each other. We did sibling presents, and opened them on the 23rd. For the most part it went pretty well, and some went more than well (the 7-year-old gave the 13-year-old a bionic hand that he then spent an entire evening constructing. It’s pretty cool!)

Welcome Sassy the Elf. Sassy came to visit us at the beginning of December and moved around the house every night. This year I got to be surprised to see where Sassy would appear each morning, which was fun, though there were some hiccups in this process.

Do breakfast with Santa. We had breakfast with Santa at Neiman Marcus. It was fine — we shall see if this makes the kids’ lists next year…But hey, there was face painting, and balloons, and Santa did bring the octopus shark toy as requested!

See the Nutcracker. I went last weekend with my two older boys and had a very nice time.

Go to NYC. My husband and I went together, and while there was a lot of traffic, we did make it to the Met and to our holiday party, and we were home by 11:15 p.m., so all around a success.

See holiday trains. So many holiday trains…At the Brandywine museum, at the Morris Arboretum, at the Railroad Museum of PA, at the Choo Choo Barn…Now that I look at this list, wow, did we spend a lot of time going to things this year.

See one other lights display. At least some of our family members made it to three! I took the little kids to Tinseltown in Oaks right after Thanksgiving. We went to Longwood Gardens (and I went back solo), and we went to Luminature at the Philadelphia Zoo. That’s three light tunnels to run through!

Sing the Messiah choruses. Yep, in the Messiah sing-along. We also sang some of the choruses as Sunday morning and Christmas Eve service music.

Play Christmas carols. I have definitely played through some of the Christmas songs in my new piano music book. It helped keep me playing the piano through this busy month. My extended family sang Christmas carols together (with my mom accompanying) when they came over for a holiday dinner a few days ago.

Watch my kids in the Christmas pageant. After a multi-year hiatus it was back on! My daughter did excellent as the angel Gabriel, and my 7-year-old made a very convincing wise man. My 13-year-old assisted with the candle lighting. The service of lessons and carols later that evening (Christmas Eve) was also great, with so much singing, though it was a bit tiring! We sang something like 8 anthems and then every hymn had a soprano descant…

Bake. So I’ve just been substituting vegan butters (which get sold as sticks!) for butter in recipes and so I’ve been able to make normal cookies. We made some for Santa, and then Santa brought my daughter a donut maker, so we tried that out this morning.

Be in a good mood. Well, mostly. This past month has been a lot. But we did make good memories, everyone got to do a lot of what they wanted to do, including me, and now the stress of the octopus shark robot is behind us. That definitely makes me feel celebratory!

Photo: The octopus shark Play-Doh set


10 thoughts on “Merry Christmas! Here’s an update on the 2022 Holiday Fun List

  1. Well done Santa on fulfilling such a random request for the octopus shark robot 😃 Merry Christmas and Happy holidays Laura, to you and you loving family.

  2. On a recent post, I meant to tell you of one our favorite books when the kids were small. Dream Snow by Eric Carle. And not the board book, which is why it might not have been right for the almost-three-year-old. The regular book has acetate “snow” pages between the story pages, and a surprise at the end. And it’s a very sweet book. Even my older one enjoyed listening when he was 9 or 10 as I read to the 4-5 year old, and he even read it to him.

  3. Great job on the octopus shark quest, as well as all of the holiday things that you managed to see. The Nutcracker is magical-my (now adult) kids and their cousins still talk about meeting up with my Mom in New York and going to see it every year. At the time, it was somewhat exhausting to fit it in, but I’m so glad that we kept the family tradition going for so many years. I’m glad to see that there is someone else who loves traditional Christmas carols-they make me feel Christmasy and grateful at the same time.

    My results:
    1. Meet my sister in New York to see a play. She got us tickets to see Moulin Rouge in mid-December. Results-the play was awesome, and I enjoyed spending time with my sister and meeting up with my NY-dwelling niece and her boyfriend for dinner. I also went up a day early and wandered around the West Village.
    2. Find some good Christmas-themed board books for my not quite one-year-old grandson (and perhaps Christmas PJ’s). My husband, kids, and I all had matching Pajamagram PJs one year. We took a selfie using a tripod which came out great and became the backdrop for our Christmas card the next year. Results: I got my grandson red PJs (because every toddler needs feet pajamas for the winter). I did not buy any Christmas board books. I have a tendency to buy him board books whenever I am near a bookstore, so my accumulation of 6 board books was sufficient.
    3. Start meal-planning, cookie-baking recipe selection, and gift planning ASAP for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We are returning home from a 5-and-a-half-week trip this weekend-so the upcoming week will be heavy on list-making. I find that my stress level goes down quite a bit if I get my lists underway the week before Thanksgiving and that it goes up exponentially if I do not. Results: This was one of the nicest Christmas seasons that I have enjoyed as an adult. I spent the long Thanksgiving weekend doing a lot of cyber shopping, which took a lot of the pressure off. During the first couple of weeks in December, we went to my office party and I did a fair amount of friend socializing. I saved the cookie baking for the week leading up to Christmas and offloaded the hated wrapping chore to my willing husband. We did not have to travel to see out-of-state family for the first time ever-they came to us! We have some more social plans continuing through New Year’s week-a few people at a time, which feels really nice.
    4. Continue daily physical activity even though it will be getting much colder. I’ve spent the past 3 weeks in Florida-and will sorely miss rolling out of bed and doing my first-thing-in-the-morning walk along a beautiful Gulf of Mexico beach. Results: I did well with this, but my weight is up due to the aforementioned cookie baking……
    5. Pick one anchor special holiday activity. For years when my kids were younger, we went to see The Nutcracker in New York. I need to look at local visitor’s bureau websites to get some ideas. I have been wanting to check out the Morris Arboretum train exhibit for a few years-never seem to get there. Results: Once again, the Morris Arboretum eluded us. We ended up having another anchor that warmed my heart, though. We lost a dear friend this year, and his wife (also a dear friend) moved back to our area. We knew the holidays would be tough-so to cheer her up we took her out for pizza, frozen custard (after discovering that a local favorite is open year-round), and a visit to a wildly decorated house that played Christmas-themed music in sync with a light show to raise money for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Our friend sent us the most beautiful text after we took her out-we were so glad that we boosted her spirits.
    6. Agree 100% on the importance of savoring-I fought the urge to come up with a more creative, longer list. Sometimes, it is all about reading a holiday-themed magazine with a cup of peppermint tea in hand listening to my Spotify Christmas playlist. Results: I savored all of my holiday magazines, and drank a lot of tea! My husband is getting a little tired of the Spotify playlist, though.

    1. @Beth – I love your list. And I love what you managed to do! Boosting your friend’s spirits is just a wonderful holiday gift. For everyone 🙂

  4. Ah that’s a lovely list and results. Well done on the octopus shark toy! We had a lovely season, despite positive covid tests, which meant our birthday extravaganza plans were scuppered. But we tested negative in time to fly to my parents, and two days of teacher strikes in January means we have a back up slot. My husband and I also had a heart to heart about the division of labor in the run up to the holidays, and are sitting down to make a list of everything that needs to happen each year in hopes of dividing them more equitably.

  5. Love this list! It’s so good to look back and reflect what happened. Today I did my best books of the year tally. Happy to report that I read 55 books this year and that Tranquility by Tuesday was in the top 5. I recommend it to everyone. Happy New Year!

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