We can talk about Christmas now. It’s after Thanksgiving and therefore okay to move into the Holiday Season. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m one of THOSE people who can not stand to be bombarded with all things Holiday when my calendar still says October. Call me crazy, but I really don’t want to listen to Nutcracker music while I’m out buying Halloween costumes. And is it just me, or does it seem like every year the “Holiday Season” starts earlier and earlier?
Every year I vow NOT to get caught up in the Christmas frenzy – buying stuff and doing stuff and making stuff just because it’s what I’m SUPPOSED to do. Most years I’m only moderately successful. But I’m learning. My husband is often the Voice of Reason where things like this are concerned. He has a way of putting things into perspective and keeping me from completely losing my mind sometimes. As in, “What IF Santa doesn’t bring all the expensive things the kids want? Will the world end? Will they love us or Christmas less?” No. Obviously. Or, “What IF you don’t bake twelve different kinds of Christmas cookies and get out ALL of the decorations this year? Will the celebration be lacking and less meaningful?” Of course not.
So why do I drive myself crazy trying to “do it all” when all I really end up doing is missing out on fully celebrating the joy of Christmas with my family?
This year I’ve decided to focus more on the experience of the holiday preparations and less on the STUFF. Because when I think about my own childhood and Christmas it’s the family traditions that I remember. I have no idea what presents “Santa” brought me when I was eight years old. But I do remember helping my mom bake cookies. I also remember putting up our Christmas tree and praying around our Advent Wreath every night before dinner. And I still believe that midnight Mass is one of the most magical things in the whole world – just as I did when I was a little girl. I want to create memories with my family that will carry them through many many more Christmas seasons. And I think that being a homeschooling family provides a unique opportunity to do just that.
We can embrace holiday traditions as part of our homeschooling lifestyle. Instead of doing “extra” things to prepare for Christmas only after school work is completed and chores are done and errands are run and housework is finished (because that would be never!) I’m going to place the importance on family holiday traditions that they deserve. We won’t bake cookies and work on homemade gifts only IF there’s time left in the day – we’ll make it a part of our day. Reading Christmas stories and saying Advent prayers won’t be pushed aside for math worksheets and spelling tests but will instead be incorporated into our school day. Because isn’t this why we homeschool? To create a learning environment that incorporates our family’s unique values? And that includes however you do or do not celebrate Christmas.
Whether Christmas is a religious holiday for you or not, one universal way of “celebrating” usually includes some kind of family countdown. Call it an Advent Calendar or Jesse Tree or simply a Count Down. For years we’ve used this as our Advent calendar and the boys love it. It was a gift from one of their godmothers and has numbered doors with a magnet to put on the Nativity scene each day.
This year we have this one which isn’t exactly religious but will be a fun addition to the festivities! If you know our family or have been reading this blog for any amount of time you know that I have rather Lego-obsessed boys.
Growing up my family used an Advent calendar that my grandmother made out of felt. It hung on the wall and each morning after breakfast my brother and I would take turns hanging a little felt ornament on the tree. There are many great ideas out there for making your own countdown, but here are some that caught my eye recently:
- You may have seen this one on Simple Mom – I like that this one is action-oriented and I’d like to do something similar in our family.
- I love Dana’s idea for a book a day as a way to countdown – she has a great list at the end of the post to get you started and maybe with some thrift store shopping or bargain hunting at Half Price Books it wouldn’t be too expensive to fill in the rest.
- Amy of Angry Chicken made this one for her girls and it’s very sweet and really highlights her taste and creativity.
And speaking of handmade holiday items I’m going to be hosting a Link Party very soon! You’ll all be able to link up a post on your own blog or website that has to do with a homemade gift or holiday craft. So start thinking about what post you’ll want to link up and stay tuned – I can’t wait to “meet” some new bloggers and get great ideas! I hope you’ll be able to join in the fun. If you don’t already, you may want to subscribe to the site or “like” on Facebook so you don’t miss out. Thanks!
Do you have a way of counting down the days until Christmas in your family?