So excited to participate in church’s annual service oriented Holiday Advent starting December 1st (Saturday!) They do such a good job making the month of December more meaningful with daily ideas and tasks. I have loved doing it with my kids and feel like we need it more than ever this year. You can download it here!
I love that they have weekly videos to inspire and share with my family to recenter ourselves each week of the month, too! Here is the first week’s!
And now for the real story + the why!
I read somewhere that traditions give children a sense of belonging. I 100% attest to that and found it to be true not just for kids. My parents divorced when I was a young married student and it’s been so interesting and bittersweet to see how it turned my extended family life upside down. I think ultimately since both Russ and I come from split homes (I won’t speak for Russ) I have felt that grander sense of belonging missing. Of course I feel safe and secure and loved in my own home, but in that larger familial sense. Brene said
“Those who have a strong sense of love and belonging have the courage to be imperfect.” That vulnerability, the ability to move and work through life without the paralyzing need to be perfect, all things that come from that sense of belonging. Things I see now as an adult I totally lack! I want this so badly for my kids!
My parents divorce was and, although it has improved, is ugly. I know healthy partnerships exist post-marriage and I respect the HELL out of those people. I know it’s possible and if you’re navigating that situation: don’t stop fighting for that civility and peace! I can only imagine how wonderful that must feel for everyone involved! I just know the damage the opposite can do, and it is far-reaching.
I didn’t anticipate all the adapting we’d need to do! Small things: Where do we go for holidays, who arranges the gift exchange? Or big: How do we spend time together when people can’t be in the same room together. So many relationships are strained or estranged. Sometimes it feels easier to just avoid it altogether!
Can’t we just be with our friends? That poses it’s own issues, especially in Utah where so many people have extended family nearby and they spend holidays and Sundays and special occasions and even grocery store runs together it can be hard to find that sense of belonging elsewhere. Everyone’s covered, ya know? They’ve got their people for the important days. It’s made me feel an immense need to be that place for my own kids, always. And also to be that place for others who need it, too.
Every time Russ and I talked about our house layout or made even the smallest decisions it was with this in mind. How can we be a place for others to come and feel at home. To be a place that will always fit and no one would ever feel like an imposition. We looked forward so much to hosting for the holidays and having family come stay and this first Thanksgiving felt so amazing for all of these reasons! I showed a clip of the party left-overs and sure it’s annoying to clean, but I honestly loved it. I love seeing the remnants of belonging. Of my kids and their cousins having dance parties in the loft, building race tracks in the toy room. Cuddling in blankets in front of the TV. Chatting by the crackling fire, and ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the deer in the yard or the horses in the pasture or the view. It all means so much to me.
As a mom I feel the pressure to be the creator and executor of traditions. The whole thing can be exhausting! I love simple aids like this advent to help guide the way! I have navigated A LOT of activities and ideas to see what felt right for our family. What should stick as tradition, little or grand! I think it all comes down to the feeling it creates in your home, and in your family. Here’s some of the ones we’ve tried out!
I’m challenging myself this year to have a magical Christmas without spending money. (Minus presents on the day of, of course!) As I went through our favorite traditions and saw the $$ piling up, instead of feeling dread over how to afford it without going into debt. How to fit it all in. I’m taking those stressors out of the equation. And focusing on creating the magic without extras. Using creativity, what we already have, our own sweat equity, to serve one another and those around us. I’ll be sure to share all my ideas as we go, but would love to hear yours, too!!
Riding the train to see the lights at Temple Square, or Grand America Window Display and Giant Gingerbread (train tickets are $5 each I think but worth not dealing with parking!)
Christmas Book Advent
Singing Carols at the Piano
Scavenger Hunt for big or exciting gifts on Christmas morning
A special breakfast or breakfast item for after presents
Family movie night with hot cocoa and popcorn
Sledding / Snowball Fights / Build a Snowman
Cousin Handmade Gift Exchange
Have kids write their own year in review and share with family or mail with Christmas card. Save each year and make a book!
Gather donations for those in need.
Go caroling, deliver treats, offer service or help with projects.
Lower Lights Hymn Revival Concert
Utah Symphony Here Comes Santa Claus
Sibling Gift Exchange – game gift exchange with game night attached
One on one dates! Let each child pick one holiday themed thing to do with just their parents. Or one parent if you don’t want to worry about childcare.