Thursday, December 20, 2012

Each year, I tell myself to simplify the holidays for my children.  To teach them that these winter days have a deeper meaning of connection, compassion, and celebration for all that we already have.  But in years past, despite myself I find I get caught up, reeled in to the holiday gift buying frenzy and because of this, I usually greet the holidays with some level of dread.  Not this year, this year the holidays have felt magical.  They started earlier for us this year, we got our tree on December 2nd, but there has been this slow easing into the holiday that has felt natural and unrushed.  Because of this, I am staying grounded, I am avoiding the internet where I can so easily get caught up in the frenzy and I am staying present with my little ones watching and enjoying them experience this magical time. 

I made an advent calendar this year.  In years past I have avoided the chocolate laden count down to Santa and in so many ways, this handmade advent is a reflection of the handmade holiday tradition we are stitching together this year.  In place of chocolate, or more gifts, each day has a tiny scroll of paper that when unrolled reveals an experience.  These little scrolls have helped to organize and shape our holiday traditions so that each day we are mindful that we are preparing for something, that all of these little experiences are woven together into creating a winter ritual focused on making, sharing, gratitude and yes, even giving.

Among the scrolls, my favorites have been making gratitude lists for friends, cozy family reads, and a hot cocoa stoller walk down to the apple orchard at the end of our road (we went on the coldest day of the year thus far, squinting to keep the little falling ice balls out of our eyes) and in the process we unanimously decided that it was the perfect day to take a hot chocolate stroll.  Today's scroll led us out to visit our canine neighbors.  We do not have dogs, but my girls LOVE dogs, so late last week we made a huge batch of dog treats and today we went out to deliver them.  It was great to visit all of our favorite neighborhood dogs and their human folk, in some cases it gave us an excuse to get to know their owners a little better too.  For this mama, the best part was watching my small children see the rewards of making and giving.

As the holiday grows nearer and we shift from preparation to celebration, I hope we can keep our focus on what is truly the gift of this season, celebrating the warmth of family and community. 

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