For a lot of reasons, Christmas was a whole lot of awesome this year. Our 25 Days of Christmas advent calendar of activities was a huge success and I’m still reveling in the joy of the season.
1.Visit the Christmas village at Place d’Orleans: The boys loved it so much they went back twice.
2. Decorate the house for Christmas: Thanks to the cat half our decorating efforts went into unlighting our pre-lit tree. Unbeknownst to us she spent last Christmas systematically chewing through the Christmas lights on the tree. Because of her efforts we learned just how tight they wind those lights in the factory (really tight) and just how many lights there are (a lot). The other half of our decorating time was spent trying not to break ornaments and retrieving baby duck (the rolling ninja) from a myriad of not so safe situations.
3. Write letters to Santa: The firefighter started his letter with ‘Facu’ his phonetic attempt at ‘thank you’. The monkey wrote his name for the first time at the bottom of his letter and baby ducks letter was dictated by his brothers and transcribed by me. There was much mama pride that night.
4. Read Christmas stories: Three boys in reindeer footie pajamas, tucked in our bed, and sharing the same book. Everybody now….awwww.
5. Visit Santa: Even my always smiley baby was left smileless but our visit to the big guy. The firefighter asked for LEGO (phew, no last minute ringer gifts) and the monkey (even with prompting) couldn’t remember what he wanted. I got a photo of the three boys together and there were no tears so I consider the visit a success.
6. Reindeer hand print craft: I was like a Martha Stewart ninja. I managed to create reindeers out of the boys hand prints AND foot prints on the same sheet of paper. Dangling and suspension of children might have been involved.
7. Make stockings: A friend described them as toy sacks masquerading as stockings. A perfection description.
8. Christmas movie night: I remember every year waiting for the Disney Christmas specials on CBC. In 2012 there was no waiting: my kids watched it on request from our handy dandy collection of holiday Christmas classics.
9. Decorate ginger bread houses: Its quite possible we did this on three separate occasions. You can’t beat the finger licking fun of icing and many, many, many containers of candy.
10. Make teacher gifts: The boys drew pictures for their teachers and then dictated their five favourite things about them to me. The lists always crack me up.
11. Make paper snow flakes: Last year their dad and I made most of the snowflakes but this year the firefighter was a snow flake making master. Our patio doors were covered in his giant white creations.
12. Buy and donate toys to Toy Mountain: I know the process of choosing toys to give away will eventually get easier and I’m glad we do this every year but it’s so very hard for 4 and 6 year olds to understand why not every toy we buy is for them.
13. Make reindeer food: This year I combined reindeer food making with sugar cookie baking in genius ‘limit the spread of sprinkles and sugar’ move. It worked!
14. Snow globe craft: They aren’t masterpieces but several weeks after making them they still have a place of pride on our mantlepiece.
15. Bake Christmas cookies: This is probably one of my favourite holiday activities. Its the same recipe that I used as a child and the smell of nutmeg in the kitchen makes me nostalgic for Christmases gone by.
16. See the lights on parliament hill: All 3 kids were asleep by the time we got there but their dad and I enjoyed a peaceful, whispered conversation as we took in the beauty of the lights in the falling snow.
17. Have a picnic in our pj’s: There was no picnic but there were several weekend and weekdays that we actually didn’t get out of pjs. The best: two snow days spent entirely in pjs.
18. Taffy lane lights and hot chocolate: I have to say that 4/5 of our family were underwhelmed by the lights on Taffy Lane this year (baby duck didn’t have an opinion). There were many houses without any lights and only a handful that were truly spectacular.
19. Buy and donate food to the food bank: Monetary donations to the food bank go farther but the impact of choosing and paying for food is far more meaningful when you’re only 4 and 6.
20. Make salt dough ornaments: A perfect snow day activity! Aside from taking 2+ hours to bake, we had a great time rolling dough and painting the finished creations.
21. Listen to Christmas music: I downloaded the TuneIn Radio app for the iPad and we had the Christmas tune blaring everyday in December.
22. Alight at night: It was bitterly cold but still one of my favourite activities. The lights always put me in the mood for Christmas and I love getting a chance to play with my camera. Definitely one of the highlights of our advent activities this year.
Family swim: Snow forts:Way too much snow for swimming this year. Instead the boys built 2 forts and went tobogganing.
24. Cookie elf: This year we delivered cookies, candy cane bark, and ornaments. I love this tradition!
25. Photo in front of the tree in your pjs: Even better…a picture in front of the tree on Christmas Eve with their cousin. The excitement on their faces is priceless.