I have been thinking about past Christmases lately, and just what it is that makes Christmas so special. There is a magic to the season - a spirit of love, giving and celebration that makes the whole month of December more joyous than any other time of year.
Like other moms, I can get a bit frenzied in the weeks leading up to Christmas. With shopping, baking, housecleaning and all sorts of other tasks, the to-do list can be overwhelming. Which is why I spent some time recently thinking about all of the moments that make Christmas wonderful. As I looked back at Christmas photos from last year, I came up with my own personal list of "12 Great Things About Christmas."
1. The Christmas Tree Farm
Visiting the tree farm is just about my favourite annual event. Walking through the woods looking for the perfect tree, warming up by a blazing outdoor fire and sampling hot chocolate in a historic cabin - these are the things that Christmas memories are made of!
Of course, a visit to the tree farm usually involves snow, but last year it was pouring rain. It's all good. Each year's experience is a little bit different, and that means more fun family memories.
2. The Christmas Tree
Okay, it's not all fun decorating the Christmas tree. Taking out those many storage boxes full of ribbons, ornaments and lights can be pretty overwhelming. But we always put on some Christmas music and enjoy a few snacks to make the tree decorating more festive.
We also enjoy a good laugh each time we put the topper on the tree. Last year it was so close to the ceiling we had to replace our usual angel with a star. There wasn't even enough room to get the star straight. My bad, because I always insist on buying the tallest tree possible!
3. Christmas Decor
Once the tree is up and decorated, next come the stockings, candles and garlands. One of our favourite decor items is the Christmas clock that counts down the days until Christmas. It really builds up the excitement!
4. Holiday Movies
Holiday movies are a necessity in the weeks leading up to Christmas. We like Home Alone, Elf, Rudolph and It's A Wonderful Life, among others. What are your favourites?
5. Christmas Music
Around the first week of December my Christmas playlist goes into constant rotation, much to my husband's chagrin. I like to mix up the classics (like Elvis) with more modern Christmas songs.
6. Family Dinners
There's nothing like a Christmas meal to bring family together. It's time to get out your best dishes and your festive charger plates and sit down for a long holiday dinner together.
7. Cozy Nights in Front of The Fireplace
Christmas vacation brings with it more time for relaxing in front of the fireplace. (The closer the better for Jolene the beagle mix - why do dogs like to roast themselves?)
8. Outdoor Skating on Christmas Day
A simple pastime that is not to be missed - skating in the park followed by hot cocoa at home. Nothing more Canadian than that!
9. Playing Board Games
We have a huge collection of board games that gets ignored all too often. With no homework and no sports commitments, Christmas vacation is the time to bring out our favourites and challenge the kids to some healthy competition.
10. Time With Grandparents
My mom and dad usually stay with us at Christmastime and I love seeing my kids soak up all that special attention that only grandparents can give. Granny spends lots of time playing games with them and Grampy gives plenty of hugs!
11. Kids in The Kitchen
I like to get the kids into the kitchen at Christmastime. We make shortbread cookies, date squares, chocolate fudge and sugar cookies. Decorating the sugar cookies with sprinkles, icing and candies in red and green is a Christmas must for us.
12. Kids With Toys
Of course, it's not Christmas without a few toys for the kiddies. Okay, more than a few. They got a bundle last year, but I think their favourite was the Furby. Actually we all (mom, dad and grandparents too) enjoyed watching Furby dance to the music my son played on his iPod. I have to admit that we also tried to make Furby angry at one point. It's just so fun to watch his personality change.
Last year, my son put this mini hoop on the door leading to the basement and then spent the major part of the day doing just what that guy pictured on the box is doing. Not fun to listen to, but I couldn't possibly stop him when he was having that much fun.
Our Holiday List-Making Strategy
In the weeks (okay months) leading up to the big event, the kids point out what seems like hundreds of toys that they want for Christmas. I employ a strategy that my mom and my grandmother used before me - I tell them to get out a marker and the Sears Christmas Wish Book and circle the toys they want. Or, as my grandmother used to say, "Put an X on it!" I get my kids to take it one step further, creating a list from their circled picks (including page numbers)!
Top Toy Picks
I'm thinking online shopping is the way to go this year - avoid the crowds and shop from the comfort of home! All of the hot holiday toys can be found online at Sears. I love crafty toys that keep the kids busy doing something creative - like the Crayola Melt N Mold Factory and the Buki Chemistry Lab. My daughter has both of those on her list. Some of my kids' other top toy picks from the Sears Toy Shop include: the Musical Step-On Keyboard, the Franklin Sports Soccer Set and the HELLO KITTY Tablet.
Win Hot Holiday Toys!
Visit Sears on Facebook to enter to win one of their hottest holiday toys. Each Friday until December 13th, Sears will be giving away one of the top toys of the season. Enter just by commenting! Follow along with me and the other Sears Mom Ambassadors on Twitter using the hashtag #SearsMom.
What's on your Christmas wish list this year?
Disclosure: I am part of the Sears Mom Ambassador program with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.