December 15, 2014

Getting into the Spirit of Things

Holiday fun does not come naturally to me.  As a pre-teen and teen, festivity was not encouraged in my family.  Christmas was something to "get through".  Don't get me wrong, there were always presents but few traditions and definitely no joy.  Like many other areas of family life, I'm starting from scratch when it comes to the holidays.  In all honesty, it takes a lot of effort to get started and keep the momentum going.  I mean, it's just me orchestrating all this and I have no schema for it.  I know better than to try to duplicate magazine spreads and compete with the Pinterest paparazzi but at the same time, I can't just sit back and hope my children will enjoy Christmas.  If I didn't plan a few things, arrange some outings, set up some crafts, my boys would spend the entire month of December playing Angry Birds.  They'd be perfectly happy doing so but one day, not today, but someday, they'd regret not having a few special Christmas memories.

My boys are good in the kitchen, so we start there.

This no-bake recipe includes graham crackers, caramel, pretzels, dark chocolate and marshmallows.  It may not be beautiful, but it's delicious!

We continue to unwrap a Christmas book each night and read together.  It's not much different from our usual bed time ritual except that when it is over, there's wrapping paper and ribbon to clean up.  Still, my children think of this as a family tradition we do during the holidays.  I count it as a tiny success towards the goal of inventing our collective Christmas memories.  

This year, the boys helped me choose names from the mitten tree at church.  They went with me to buy the gifts for these children we will never meet.  They never once asked to play with the toys before I wrapped them.  I can tell they understand, at least a little, the importance of giving over receiving.

A few days ago, Liam came home from school with this drawing of the Nativity. It was so well done that at first, I assumed that his seven year old brother did it.   Nope.  This is the work of my five year old. The animals from left to right are cow, sheep and donkey. I love the colors and details.

Not to be outdone in the "stun Mommy with your talent" category--Henry created a stable, star and manger scene from K'nex.  I had no idea what he was making until he called me into the dining room.  When I was growing up, putting Scotch tape on the wall was a cardinal sin but I can't bear to take this down.  If I have to repaint the wall in January, so be it.

The holidays are hard work for moms.  All moms.  It takes effort and stamina, patience and planning.  You know, like the rest of the year.  What I know for certain is that I'll get out of this season what I put into it.  You know, like the rest of the year.


  1. I'm kind of the same way about Christmas as you are. As I got older, I wanted to just "get through it" for various reasons. This is the first year in a really, really, really long time that I have embraced it because of Sidekick. Seeing it through his eyes has made me see in from an totally different perspective. And you are right, we get to create our own traditions. (The book idea is great!) I hope that Sidekick and your boys will always have great memories of Christmas and all that leads up to it!

  2. These sound like great traditions. Good for you for making the effort even though it's out of your comfort zone

  3. I remember last year when one of my mommy friends said to another friend of ours who had asked if I liked Christmas, "Of course she hates Christmas right now. She has a little kids." And I think of that as I'm running around trying to get so much more done than I usually do. I think about how I don't hate Christmas. I just easily get overwhelmed with all the busy work. But when I sit with my kids and do something special and their enthusiasm and excitement brings a magic to it all, I love Christmas. This post is awesome. It shows that it is hard work to be a mom of little kids during the holidays but that it is worth the work, that there is magic and family and tradition. And I LOVE your wrapped books idea. That is brilliant!!!! I might steal that.

  4. I posted a comment a while ago, and it got kicked back for some reason. I'll try again... I think you and I have similar feelings about Christmas, so I'm glad I'm not alone. As I got older, I never liked any holiday. Sidekick is helping me enjoy them more as I see the excitement through his eyes. Sounds like you are doing the same thing. I love the book idea!

  5. I LOVE the book idea too.. What a great tradition.. We all have our ways of getting threw the holidays again its just enjoying the small moments that takes action on our part... You so inspire me..