I have to admit that this time of year leaves me a bit envious of people who have been blessed with children. Besides having the opportunity to pass on family traditions, like cookie baking, gingerbread house decorating, snowman building, watching Christmas movies, spending time with family, and attending church services, I feel a twinge of jealously when I see friends post pictures on Facebook of all of the fun antics their Elf on a Shelf has been getting into, their childrens’ Christmas programs, of their family sledding adventures together, and all the other super cool activities they have concocted to make their childrens’ holiday experience nothing short of magical.
As I sit back and wait until my day arrives, I plot and ponder how Rob and I might make our child’s or childrens’ holiday special by melding our traditions with our birth parent’s traditions while borrowing some of the awesome ideas shared by our friends and family. Our holiday traditions begin the Friday after Thanksgiving when we venture to Pinecrest Tree Farm in Galien, Michigan to pick out our tree. The farm is enchanting with its acres of trees that are reached via horse-drawn wagons, Christmas shop, resident dogs that greet visitors, and hot cocoa and warm cider. The tree is decorated and garland and stockings are hung throughout the weekend.
Throughout the weeks leading up to the holiday, we bake cookies, view breathtaking Christmas light displays, attend the local Holly Days celebration that includes a live manger, ice sculptors, Santa Express train rides, carolers, food vendors, and lots of lights; watch holiday movies like the animated Rudolph’s Shiny New Year and Santa Claus is Coming to Town and the classic White Christmas and Holiday Inn, host our annual Bedwell Bash, attend church services, and spend time with family. This year we have also been invited by family members to decorate gingerbread houses and make holiday wreaths. Can’t wait! When I was Key Club advisor for 12 years, my students and I also enjoyed helping out at homeless shelters, soup kitchens, caroling at the local hospital, playing bingo with the elderly, and purchasing gifts for those who might benefit from a helping hand. Acts of service are a constant part of our lives, and would continue to be a focus during the holidays.
Recently in a post on Facebook I asked friends about some of their holiday traditions. All I can say is that I am surrounded by some pretty creative and amazing people! One great idea comes from my friend Jen Leek who created a super cool advent calendar in the form of garland she crafted out of card stock and hung on her fireplace. Each piece of the garland is numbered and the her kids, Lexie and Zac, remove the piece that corresponds with each day of advent. Some of the fun activities include pizza and movies with Grandma and Grandpa (her parents are pretty darn awesome!), having a picnic under the tree, purchasing food for the local food pantry, and making s’mores. A former classmate, Michael Cochran, posts, “We take our girls around to view neighborhood light displays and vote on which one we feel is the best. The winner receives a box of candy”. Other suggestions I enjoyed were receiving new pajamas on Christmas eve, celebrating other’s beliefs by receiving small gifts the week of Chanukah, and celebrating Baby Jesus’ birthday.
So many wonderful ideas to make our child’s or childrens’ holiday magical. Until we meet you, little miracle, we shall dream…