Advent Beginnings :: Hectic to Harmonious

There are a few things from my Catholic upbringing that I hold onto tightly.  One of which is Advent, a season of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of ______ (fill in the blank.)  At our house, I am trying to put the emphasis on Solstice and being generous at Christmas, not what they'll get from Santa.  Our envelope advent calendar from last year survived and was promptly hung up on December first.  There was only one problem.  I had no plan of what to put in it.   In the spirit of giving, I had a card from a Childhaven Giving Tree to purchase board books for a toddler, so I put that in for our activity of the day.  Yesterday, there was a little note with colored lights on our house, so we hung a string of lights on our front porch.

What I have come to realize is that it doesn't matter what's actually inside the envelopes.  My daughter has taken over the task of drawing an activity on a slip of paper and placing it in for her brother to discover.  It's this simple daily tradition that they love about Christmastime.  Anything can go in there and become part of "the season".  So many fun little traditions have become our thing, but the easiest ones and the ones that stick are the simplest: when we buy nothing and spend time together.  

I just signed up for this Free Holiday Challenge called from Hectic to Harmonious: 

"an email every day during the month of December with a guideline for slowing down, connecting with your family, and embracing what you truly value about this season.  The challenges take a small amount of time so that it is doable and you can embrace the spirit of what matters to YOU this holiday!"

What are your favorite traditions?  This is what I am excited about at this time of year:

  • These ten homemade Advent calendars are inspiring (starting a few days late is just fine.)
  • Day One "Feed the Birds" from my friend Becky's 2010 Adventure calendar was all about sharing and giving back to nature.  What a lovely idea.
  • Unplug the Christmas Machine: The complete guide to putting love and joy back into the season. This book totally changed my view of the holidays and helped me hone in on making it mine again. 
  • My kids and I are reading a story every night from Jan Brett's Christmas Treasury.  I love her illustrations.  My daughter wants to bring back the days when we used to play hide and seek for a Jan Brett Christmas book each night, but that might just put me over the edge during our already chaotic bedtimes.

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