I hate to break that to you! I'm sure some of you might be saying to yourselves "but it's not even Thanksgiving yet". I was saying the same thing about Halloween back in September, then BOOM, next thing I knew, Halloween was over, the sugar comas had worn off and nearly half of November was gone...so really... Christmas is practically tomorrow.
Not that I'm trying to give any of you who celebrate Christmas more to stress about. It's just Christmas has been on my mind. Here's the thing...this year is turning out to be the one that SweetPea is aware...really aware...of Christmas traditions. Last year was the first where she really got excited about seeing Santa at the Mall, putting up a tree and decorating it, making cookies and leaving them out for Santa...the whole shebang. This year she remembers all of the fun we had last year and wants to do it again. Oh yes...and she now fully accepts that fact that a visit from Santa equals presents. We're trying...really trying not to make Christmas all about getting stuff...we talk about giving as well as getting...and about the traditions...about being with family and showing others love and compassion...but come on, when you're three and half, the fact you might be getting toys is what resonates!
So...now that at least one of the kids is old enough to start participating in Christmas traditions, I've been searching for books and activities that will make the holiday fun and special for her. I'm sure a lot of you already have your own traditions and activities that you already do with your family, but I thought I'd share a few I've found that you might have a good time with:
- E-mail Santa: That's right...the man in red has hit the 21st century. Actually...he hit it 10 years ago, when this site was started. Not only can your kids write and e-mail letters to Santa, but the site counts down to Christmas Eve...has a quiz to tell you if you've been naughty or nice...and coolest of all (OK, well cool to me anyway), you can track where in the world Santa is on Christmas Eve. That's right...Santa is hooked up to GPS. There are a bunch of "Write to Santa" sites online...some will actually send an e-mail back from Santa...or if you're in the mood to spend a little moolah...you can get a fancy personalized snail mail letter for your child, from Santa, postmarked from the North Pole. Of course, since I know a lot of you are SUPER creative, you might even be able to make one of your own and sneak it into the mailbox!
- Elf on the Shelf: I'd never heard of this tradition, until recently. A friend mentioned it in passing on Facebook, then I saw a whole big stack of these kits at Barnes and Noble over the weekend. The concept is pretty simple...and a very cute idea. You can buy (or, again, make one of your own) one of Santa's elves, who's there to sit on a shelf to watch over your kids and "report back" to Santa who is naughty or nice. OK, yes, it would be great if kids would be motivated on their own to be nice, but again, a little external motivation never hurts...especially with small kids who have the short term memory of gnats. The concept is easy enough that you can embrace the tradition without having to fork over a lot of money.
- Holiday Themed Books: Go ahead...hit your bookstores and libraries. You'll be floored at the sheer number of books you'll find...Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa...with popular characters, traditional stories...and on and on. If you're a Fancy Nancy fan, the newest, Christmas themed book is out and perfectly "splendiferous". We settled on two new books...Bear Stays Up For Christmas and Angelina's Christmas. Karma Wilson's "Bear" books are a favorite in our house and this one is a sweet story about how Bear (who by all accounts should be hibernating) stays up to make a wonderful Christmas for his friends...and so he can see Santa. Angelina's Christmas (that's Angelina Ballerina, in case you wondered) is all about how Angelina and her cousin help bring Christmas cheer to a lonely old mouse. Both stories were a hit with SweetPea.
Now is your time to share...what are some of your favorite holiday traditions?