I realized today that we haven't started this year's Advent calendar yet. We're only a few days into December so catching up won't take long, but it got me to realize that it's time to let Christmas take-over the house. I've distracted today, thinking about some of the other Christmas traditions we have.
We planned to pull out the Christmas decorations this past weekend, but that never happened. This weekend is circled in red on the calendar, and we had quite a discussion last night to agree on a plan. Steve is in favour of making a duct tape tree on the wall. My vote is for a full-on Chevy Chase Christmas Vacation-like celebration. Jonas is voting for traditional decorations, enhanced with duct tape accents. Tasha has her own apartment so has the luxury of not having to compromise with any of us.
Getting a real tree was debated. Only putting up part of our artificial tree was mentioned. Put of the joy of Christmas around here is the pleasure of putting together the puzzle that is our 40 year old hand-me down tree. Frustration and cursing were discussed, as was the reality that any tree-like structure will be attacked by our herd of kittens.
Decorating said tree isn't nearly as difficult a decision as the "what tree?" one is every year. We let the kids do it. (Usually in their jammies on a Saturday or Sunday morning.) The theme is: whatever they fancy. Tasha won't be home this year so Steve and I will help but the process is simple: assemble the tree and put whatever decorations you want on it. We have boxes of 70s - style lights, garland and ornaments, some handed-down from my Grandmothers.
We got our first Christmas card yesterday. We usually hang a ridgeline of string in the front hall and drape the cards we receive over it (secured with clothes pegs) to let their festive spirit greet us when we walk through the front door. My mom has a brass tree-shaped stand thingy (Yes, I do think that is it's official title) that sits on a table in her front hall to show off the cards. I liked the 3D effect of that and today I found instructions for making this rustic Christmas card tree. I totally love it, just haven't yet figured out where we're put it.
Another thing that's ready to come out is the annual Advent calendar. When I was a kid, we got chocolate ones. I always wanted one of the fancy ones made of wood, with doors and windows that opened. When I lived in my first apartment, I bought a cloth and wood calendar that we still use every year. Last year, however, was a break-through when it comes to the old December countdown - we found a Lego Star Wars version. Every day Jonas got a new mini Lego action figure, sort of an early Christmas present, rewarding good behavior. The only problem is that they cost $50. Now, $50 is a good deal for 24 Lego guys, but I'm still pondering the budget.
We also have a family tradition of making a gingerbread house together on Christmas eve. It started off as something that my brother, sister and I did together. Today, it's something our kids do, with a smackral of help from us. This was Jonas and Tasha's creation last year:
Of course, they won't be used until Christmas Eve, but our stockings need to be hung with care as well. Mine is from when I as a baby and Jonas has special one too, that was handmade by my Aunt Heather. Believe me, it looks even more difficult than than the baby blankets that take me two years to knit, and it deserves a month of showing off. We don't have a fireplace or mantel so we hand them on our family paddles in the living room, while we sleep with visions of a dancing campfire in our heads.
And then there's the presents and food and the outside decortations.... But those are entirely different blog entries.