My second family celebrated Christmas all month long, opening a small gift each morning for Advent, and lighting a candle each week. It was magical. I came upstairs to a dimly lit, simple breakfast and a present each morning. It was like Christmas morning every day, and I loved it. Waking up before the sun (unless it's with a screaming toddler) always carries a kind of magic with it. I remember getting warm socks and a heart-shaped silver keychain that jingled like a unique kind of bell. I loved that Christmas.
It was really nice that they did it this way, because Germans' main celebration is on Christmas Eve, or 'Holy Evening' as they call it. As wonderful as that was, it was kinda stinky for this American kid to wake up to the sound of a vacuum cleaner on December 25th and spend the entire day stuck in the middle of the backseat of a station wagon as the whole family hauls their way to Switzerland. But then, Switzerland is also magical. I love that beautiful country!
Ever since that year, I've always wanted to celebrate Christmas the whole month long. Last year I made all these great plans and then we all got nailed with a nasty flu that wiped out a whole week of festivities and seemed to suck away way more time than it actually did. This year, we tried it again and... so far, so good!
There have been days when I've thought, "wow, this is anti-climactic. maybe we wait till the kids are older for this...?" And then there have been days where the girls' excitement has been so contagious, and I've been so grateful for the planning I put into it.
Some days we've had a small gift or a treat (hot chocolate, a piece of candy, chalk for drawing on their chalkboard wall), and most days we've had some kind of family activity. We've read the Christmas story in the book of Luke, as well as How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Polar Express, and 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. We've watched some Christmas classics: Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Grinch, Muppet Christmas Carol, and the LDS Church's Christmas devotional. We hung up mistletoe and smothered each other in kisses. We hosted a Christmas party for my husband's employees. We delivered gifts to a grieving family. We built a 4.5 ft tall Snoopy Doghouse for our ward Christmas Party. We made faux-gingerbread houses, or "inns" for Joseph and Mary NOT to birth their baby in, made and hung paper snowflakes on the windows... it's been really fun!
I think what's allowed it to be fun was having it all planned by Thanksgiving, so we haven't been worrying each day what we're going to do for Advent. For activities, I wrapped something related to it for the girls to tear open-- like graham crackers for the candy houses, a book, etc. I really like having things ready ahead of time. We've all been able to enjoy it without any stress, and only a few hours of planning, shopping, and wrapping.
Here are a few photos of our Advent festivities!
The next couple of weeks include some other good things-- looking forward to go to see the Nutcracker Ballet with Verity, and making Christmas cookies. Seriously the most wonderful time of the year!