I am one of those people who think that the anticipation of something is almost, if not, just as fun as the main event. When my birthday rolls around, one of my favorite days is the first day of my birthday week. It means the fun is just beginning. (Though we often “celebrate” by me getting my way in things like what we have for dinner or what tv show we watch. It’s not that I’m showered in gifts all week. But picking dinner or which show sometimes feels like a gift. End of rambling.)Anyway, I think this is one reason why I love celebrating Advent with Jayce. It’s hard to not get swept up in the excitement of Christmas with him.
Also, it takes some of the pressure off of Christmas Day itself. If we spend the month anticipating the fun, reflecting on the meaning, spending time together, talking about important things and just for fun things, then it’s okay if there is a bit of crankiness, or impatience, or anything else on the actual day. It lets us all be human on the 25th without having lost any of the meaning behind the holiday. That’s what I think, anyway.
So this year, I made Jayce a little Advent calendar with the supplies that I had on hand. I had been dreaming big for what kind of Advent Calendar I might make, but on December 2, already a day behind, I just pulled out my little tub of supplies and went easy on myself. I removed a (never used) shelf from the bottom of our coffee table, wrapped it in festive paper, and propped it against the wall in the living room. I taped up little clotheslines, stuck numbers to cards strung on the line, (leftover from last year’s calendar), and hung little ornaments from each clothespin. To start, I left all the cards blank, and I filled them in one at a time, usually on the night before.I know that some people do really amazing things throughout the month of December, but I decided to keep ours fairly low key. I got a small stack of Christmas books from the library, and a smaller stack of Pound Store goodies (like the Dollar Store, but in pounds, obviously.)
The first few days I wanted to remind Jayce of what we were celebrating at Christmas, so he unwrapped a book with the nativity story. Later in the week his activity was to set up the toy nativity set. This was serious business. He kept the box nearby and looked back at the book for reference as to where all of the animals and people should be placed. There was usually a countdown as to how many days until Christmas as well.
One day he unwrapped some festive window stickers.
One day we made a wreath together. (I was so proud of him, it’s great, right? I cut out the leaves, he glued them. Then he wanted to punch out the berries and I glued those. I love it.)
One day he unwrapped some ribbons for us to wrap presents with, and another day was stamps (that I already had) for him to make Christmas cards. Another day he got this little tote to color in. Several days he got a “new” (library) Christmas story to read at bedtime.
Some days I just wrote down things that I knew we were going to do anyway, like watch a Christmas movie and have a family picnic, which we’ve been doing on Fridays. Some days he got to have a piece of Christmas candy, and pick out one for each of his family members as well. He didn’t get a present every single day, but it’s funny how even basic things can sound fun when described with a little enthusiasm. “Do you want to write Christmas cards for your friends at school? Yeah! Let’s go!”
With less than a week until Christmas and no travel on the horizon, I think that the last week of the Advent Calendar will be filled with at home family goodies. Cookie making (and maybe delivering), popcorn and a movie, hot cocoa with lots of marshmallows, books read with funny voices, and heightened anticipation. I can’t wait. Neither can Jayce.