Thursday, January 26, 2012

What I did wrong this Christmas

You know I love advent calendars.  This year we pulled out an advent calendar that I made a few years ago by adding numbers to a set of Ikea gift boxes and using command velcro strips to stick them on the wall in our entryway.

We usually just add a slip of paper to each day stating the Christmas related activity we'll do that day (drink hot chocolate and watch how the Grinch Stole Christmas, drive around the neighborhood to look at Christmas lights and leave an award for our favorite house, attend a live nativity etc.). After Christmas last year, I picked up a bunch of little Christmas things on uber clearance to put in our advent calender this year.  I had a few things that didn't make the picture, but I didn't have a trinket every day. Each box always had an activity listed in it (and i love having them in containers that I can sneak open and switch up, in fact, I filled each box the night before we opened it so I didn't have to worry about peeking) and sometimes it had a small treat or one of the trinkets.

 Sometimes the paper and trinket were just waiting in the box, but often Creed had to do some kind of activity to find it. Like follow quickly scribbled clues on a treasure hunt around the house to discover our activity for the day.
 Or follow a piece of yarn winding through the house.
 Which made it easy to gift items too big to fit in the box we opened that day.

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't an epic fail, Creed loved the whole experience and was eager to open a box each day, and he was grateful and gracious and sweet, but the more I thought about it, the more I think I was going about things the wrong way.  Yes, it was fun, and I think Creed will remember it, but I think it set the wrong tone for our holidays.  There's already so much focus on the material side of Christmas, the last thing Creed and Ollie needed was to be getting more gifts each day up until Christmas.  How can I expect them to be focused on giving and to not have a case of the gimmes when I'm giving them gifts every day?  Ollie was oblivious and Creed actually handled things really well, but I think it would be so much better to put a part of the Christmas story in the advent every day or maybe every day should have some service or small item that the boys will have to help me figure out how to GIVE that day.  A few of the activities in the advent involved giving, like picking out toys for a sub-for-Santa program, but it wouldn't be hard to think of something small the boys could be involved in every day (Drive around on a cold day to find a Salvation Army beller ringer and drop off change and give the ringer some hand warmers, shovel a neighbors driveway, make teacher Christmas gifts, etc.). At any rate, it was sort of a missed opportunity to help the boys focus on the true meaning of Christmas, and I pledge to better next year.

I tell myself the boys are little and Larry and I have more time to figure out this parenting thing while they are too little to remember our mistakes very well, right?


Unknown said...

What a lovely and thoughtful post. I like your ideas for using things you got cheaply last year, but I LOVE your idea of finding a way to give every day! That is truly beautiful. As for your parenting skills, I wish that I would have been even twice as good as you! (I have 5 kids-the youngest is 21!) Thanks for your great blog.

Larry said...

Love the ideas. There's no surprise why I married you!

Kate said...

Your advent calendar is super cute and I love all the activities and gifts you planned -- but I really LOVE your plan for next year! Of course they will love it, too, because you will come up with amazing activities for giving as well! I think I saw something on Pinterest that was about this sort of thing -- things to give each day leading up to Christmas. If I find it, I'll alert you to it since I follow you on there. :) I'm so happy Creed loved everything so much -- so fun!

Mom said...

These are your MISTAKES? Seriuously, you are too hard on yourself! maybe a decision to tweak the activities is a good idea - but I would hardly call that adorable calendar a MISTAKE. I remeber when I knew it was my job to keep the girls heads from exploding from all the excitement, make it to every event on the school calendar and make Christmas happen. You Gove yourself a break.

Cathy said...

My kids are 5 and 3. This year I made a pathetic looking Christmas tree out of paper and stuck it on the wall. Every morning of our countdown they picked a paper out of a jar. Most of the papers had questions about the birth of Jesus (Who was his mother? Who was his father? What did the angel say to the shepherds? Where was Jesus born?) Easy stuff since they're little. If they answered it right (which of course they eventually did since I helped them) they got to stick up an ornament on the tree (a paper ornament that I either made the night before or they helped me). Nothing fancy. They loved it. No little gifts to get every day. Just Nativity trivia questions. Sometimes the paper said "Sing Silent Night" or "Sing Away in a Manger" since it's hard to come up with enough questions to last all the way to Christmas. After a few days, I let one kid pick an old question to review and the other kid pick a new one for the day. It was lovely. Cheap and easy and hopefully they learned something. I like your little boxes too though. They're super cute.