Advent 2012

Advent CalendarIt’s almost December, and I find myself surprisingly in a cheerful Christmas mood these days. There’s a slight dusting of snow on the ground, just enough to cover up the horrors of my bare-patches-and-weeds so-called lawn. The weather has been cold but clear and sunny, with no wind, just perfect for playing outside and using up what snow there is to build snow/mud men. It’s a little raw, but it’s festive.

The kids are all excited but not overly so, yet. They’ve filled out their wish lists and I’ve been hunkered down at the mall almost every day this past week, making it happen. Gal Smiley, at age 8, is just on the cusp of not believing. She actually asked me several weeks ago if Santa was real, and I gave her the Serious Talk I’d given to the Captain two years ago, about how Santa represents the Christmas spirit in all of us, but that yes, it was really Mommy and Daddy who put the presents under the tree. But she’s either forgotten, or else she’s in denial, because she seems to be back to full faith.

More likely, she’s just trying to keep the magic alive. I can’t really begrudge her that – Christmas is the perfect time to reclaim innocence and wonder. Plus, she’s ripe for the watching of Miracle on 34th Street (original version, of course). I’m looking forward to it.

Last night, Sir Monkeypants asked me when “Santa” stops bringing presents. I thought he must have fallen and hit his head. “NEVER,” I declared. Once my youngest sister turned 10 or so, my mother started a campaign to no longer have gifts brought by the big guy, and instead, to mark presents put under the tree merely with the name of their intended. Humbug, my sisters and I declared. We wanted the tags that said “From Santa,” “From Frosty,” “From Rudolph.” We knew the truth, but we wanted the magic.

Santa will ALWAYS bring it, honey.

In other news, it’s almost time to start up with the Family Advent Calendar, an idea that originated with Andrea. I’ve been wondering lately how long we’ll keep this up. Is it just for little kids? Or is this something that they’ll cling to, like a tag that says “From Mrs. Claus”? At bedtime a few nights ago, Gal Smiley told me that one day, when she’s a teenager, she would like to be the one who makes up the activities and fills the pockets with paper. I love that idea. Someone else reclaiming a little magic for me.

For this year, though, I’ll be the one in charge, and that’s okay too. I’m humming Christmas tunes and there’s gingerbread dough chilling in the fridge and I’m up for anything.

Here’s our activities for this year – and a bonus list of other ideas I had that just won’t fit into 25 days. Maybe we’ll get a chance to do a few of them while the kids are off on their school break.

Or maybe we’ll just be too busy making more mudmen.

1 – Put up the tree and hang our stockings.
2 – Decorate a gingerbread house.
3 – Visit Santa and take a toy to Toy Mountain.
4 – Make cards for your grandparents.
5 – Make Peppermint Bark.
6 – Bubble bath in the big tub. (This is really just for the girls, as the Captain is too old and doesn’t like this one anymore – but he has soccer practice this night, so we’ll do something special with him some other time.)
7 – Members Christmas party at the Museum of Science and Tech.
8 – Get dressed up for a fancy dinner, and have takeout (this one is an extremely popular one around here).
9 – Little Miss Sunshine and I are going to the The Nutcracker at the NAC; the big kids and Sir Monkeypants will stay home and see a Christmas movie (maybe Miracle on 34th Street!)
10 – Hide and seek – with Santa and Rudolph (we have a big stuffed Santa and Rudolph – they’ll be hidden in the house and the kids will have to find them).
11 – Donate to your favourite charity.
12 – Make a group comic book that tells a Christmas story.
13 – Make chocolate dipped marshmallows.
14 – Dance party!
15 – Alight at Night at Upper Canada Village.
16 – Movie matinee (most likely Rise of the Guardians).
17 – Family Wii Night.
18 – Play Bingo and win a Christmas treat.
19 – Watch the Sound of Music with popcorn at home.
20 – Make salt dough ornaments for the tree.
21 – Stargazing at the Museum of Science and Tech.
22 – Family Swim.
23 – Ian’s Christmas Adventure Park
24 – Bake cookies for Santa.
25 – Waffles for breakfast!

Backup ideas:
Sledding, build a snowman, go for a sleigh ride (all only possible if we get enough snow)
Brinkeetos (free drop-in playtime with a food bank donation between December 1 and 15)
Go for a walk in the woods (perhaps at night?)
Put together every puzzle we own
December 8 – Silver City Gloucester is showing A Christmas Story on the big screen at 11 am
December 8 – Mayor’s Christmas Party
December 14 – Ottawa 67s game
Family skate
Go downtown to see Lights Across Canada at Parliament Hill
Put on a puppet show for Daddy
Take Daddy out to lunch
Play pin the nose on the snowman
Wrap a gift for your brother or sister
Make paper snowflakes
Camp out on the living room floor overnight
Spend the afternoon at Funhaven
Put together every puzzle we own
Make a silly crown and have a parade
Make a paper chain for the Christmas tree
Make your own playdoh
Pyjama party!
Visit a museum (the Vale Earth Gallery is reopening at the Museum of Nature this weekend)
Visit Ray’s Reptiles
Play mini golf at The Putting Edge

And have a very happy holiday, everyone.

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12 thoughts on “Advent 2012

  1. awesome idea- i am tired of the chocolate calendars too! i want to start a tradition, i want to have and be able to keep this christmas magic for as long as possible. My girls are only 5 and 2.5- they are just at the fun age where its all a big mystery- i checked out the posting by Andrea that you linked to- I think I am going to do something similar with my girls- sounds like lots of fun! thanks for posting this!

    • Your kids are the perfect age for this – it’s really a great idea and a great tradition. Andrea’s blog includes instructions for making easy little paper envelopes for the 25 slips of paper – I used to have these, made out of wrapping paper, until a few of them ripped and I went overboard with the replacement project.

      For little ones, here are some other very simple ideas (you’ll want to keep things short and easy) – curl up and read a Christmas book with Mommy; sing a Christmas song and get a Christmas treat; go for an evening drive (in your jammies) to look at lights on houses in the neighbourhood; have hot chocolate with marshmallows; build a train track around the Christmas tree (great if you have a Thomas the Tank Engine lover); build a fort from chairs and blankets; paint on snow with squirt bottles and coloured water; lay out a huge piece of paper on the floor and paint or draw a city map for cars (my kids LOVED this one when they were young); glue your wish list (I’d cut pictures of toys and books out of the Christmas flyers, then the kids would sort through them, pick their favourites, and glue them to a sheet of coloured paper to hang up – again, hugely popular around here and my older kids actually still ask to do it every year!); take homemade treats to a friend or grandparent.

      Have a great time!

      • thanks- well I gotta get it started (well at least December 1-5 ) I have a little garland of mittens from the dollar store that have clothes pins attached- I am thinking of pinning a little note to each clothes pin- I have some wrapping paper downstairs so I may go that route too- make little scrolls :) thanks again for posting this !

  2. First thought: Uh-oh, Dec 1st has snuck up on me again.
    Second thought: Oh wait, Christmas for us runs Dec 6 (St. Nicholas Day, treats in the shoes) – Jan 6 (Epiphany, tree comes down). Reprieve!
    Third thought: I have next week off to get my sh*t together. SCORE!

    Can I say sh*t in a Christmas comment? Seems wrong somehow.

    Thanks for all the ideas! We should try to make the mayor’s Christmas party, while we still have a mayor. They seem to be dropping like flies lately.

    • PS. Peppermint bark is definitely on our list again this year. Had a riot last year. This year the goal is to actually have enough left to share with the neighbours (Boo keeps asking to go Trick-Or-Treating again, so I figured we’d do it “in reverse” as it were. Hm. This might even involve costumes.)

  3. This totally inspired me last year. The boys really enjoyed it but it turns out I don’t have that many great ideas. So – get this – this is what I’m doing this year: I’m going to put a note in each day that says something cool about what the kids did last year or something I like about them. Like, Jake learned to swim. Mark learned his times tables. That kind of thing.

    • Aw, that is an awesome idea! So sweet. I really want to hear about how it’s going and what the boys think.

      I read on another blog a while back about a mom who had a special, for your eyes only notebook for each kid. Every so often at random times she’d write a secret note in any one kid’s notebook – saying congratulations for learning something new or for trying hard or just to say she’d noticed something great about them – then leave it out on their bed for them to find and read the secret message. Your advent calendar idea sounds similar and I think it’s lovely. You should definitely keep the messages for them to pore over later on.

  4. Pingback: December is Here- Our new tradition starts! « Otownmommy's Blog

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