a "been-there" mom of six offers encouragement
to wives, young mothers, and those not so young,
and simple common-sense approaches to
the "ings" of life:
child-rearing (hints and helps), homemaking (all areas),
cooking (simple, cheap, and do-it-yourself)
making (toys and gifts), preparing (for the unexpected),
maintaining (sanity and peace in this increasingly crazy world) and more---
all aspects of making the most of making do on little---
and having fun in the process.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Christmas: Counting the Days --- Making the Days Count

Christmas 1978
When the first one woke up and managed to wake up all the others
our kids had to line up in reverse-age-order before they could see what Santa had brought.
One year it was 4 a.m. and we were finished and all of us back in bed before there were any other lights on in the neighborhood!

Our Christmas calendar activity started 12 years before this photo was taken. I included it here because it shows another one of our traditions.

When we were first married I didn't know how traditions started and later discovered they just happen, along the way, all by themselves!

We made our first Christmas calendar for basically selfish reasons. Our first two children were very young, but old enough to know that the big even was coming up, and . . . we were getting tired of them asking "how many more days until. . .?"

As with so many things, over time it evolved into much more. It kept us on track during this hectic time of year, and it committed us to doing what we had said we would do-----at times when it is so easy to let things just slip by, either intentionally or unintentionally.
Our December activities actually began the last couple of days of November. With a black marking pen, one of the parents would make a December calendar on a full sheet of poster board. We would all gather around our big table. A stack of November and December "women's" magazines (mainly old issues we reused for several years, along with one or two new ones), pairs of scissors, clear tape, and glue were all piled in the center.

The first order of business would be to compile a master list of all the things we wanted to do/needed to do in December. It was a long list----getting the tree, decorating the tree, putting up outside lights, baking cookies, etc.

Only Child Outings!
There was one evening allotted for each child, all by themselves. They went gift shopping with us, ending with a stop at an eating place of their choice for a treat of their choice.

Alongside the activities that had specific dates---arrival time of family members or relatives, church and school programs, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, etc., we noted the dates. Those would be penciled in on the calendar first.

Each family member chose an event and began to search the magazines for a picture that would represent it, cut it out and fasten it on the appropriate day.

Next we decided on dates for each of the remaining activities and again began searching, cutting and pasting.

We ended the evening with another traditional treat: egg nog.

The calendar was hung at kid level, usually in the hall. A quick glance told each of us what lay ahead. Every evening, just before bedtime, we would gather at the calendar. Taking turns, a big X marked off the day just closing, and in unison we would count off the days remaining until Christmas.

Nothing ever Remains Simple
As seemingly simple as this activity appears, the kids still managed to try my patience as they got older. They had to get creative. Picture-wise and other-wise! You can only imagine how many elaborate ways they could find to cross through a simple square---or the speed and variety of ways they could count. They loved it ---- and really loved watching me try to control my exasperation!!

Traditions Happen!!!
Our Christmas calendar became a must-do tradition that carried on until the last ones left home (although some of the event representations became quite humorous and abstract).

And it carries on in their homes. . .

Actually, our calender didn't end at December 31st. We had (and still have) three very important New Year's Day traditions. But that's for another time.


Anonymous said...

reading this brought back so many memories , Mom! so many wonderful times!!!! (i had forgotten about how we used to check off the days with weird lines. ha!) no wonder Christmas is still my favorite holiday... Jeremy

Simply, Gail said...

Thanks, Jeremy. I read this first thing in the a.m. and it made my day.