Writing My Way Around the World

The Final Countdown


12.02.11 Posted in Blog by

cat under christmas tree

I love Christmas. I love just about everything about it:

Drinking flavored hot chocolate

Playing music that’s only acceptable for one month out of the year.

Decorating the tree.

Wearing warm fuzzy slippers.

Ripping open wrapping paper.

Stuffing stockings.

Making candy with my husband.

Reading holiday stories (The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is a particular favorite).

Spending time with family (though this doesn’t happen often enough).

When the calendar flips to December 1, the giddiness kicks into full gear.

Our tree is up. Mannheim Steamroller is playing in the background. Whipped cream is on stand by to top off the cocoa. A weekend has been set aside for candy making.

Sure, I can skip the long lines at the stores and the ridiculous ads that start piling up mid-November and the fact that Santa Claus showed up before Thanksgiving this year, but those things don’t define the meaning of the holidays for me. It’s about so much more.

Christmas presentsAs a kid, one of my favorite traditions was the advent tree. It was a little tiny Christmas tree—no more than a foot tall—that sat in an esteemed place on a shelf in the dining room. My mom wrapped 24 itty bitty ornaments and put them in a little basket. Each morning for the 24 days leading up to Christmas, my sister and I alternated in choosing an ornament for the tree. I always hoped I would get the tiny teddy bear, and I didn’t like to get the flat ones, so I used to feel the packages carefully before choosing my ornaments. It was a tradition we did for many, many years, and ultimately it didn’t matter what ornaments were chosen on each day because by December 24, the tree was absolutely perfect just the way it was.

Inspired by the Mighty Maggie and her advent grab bag, Cory and I are trying out a new tradition this year. It doesn’t have a name yet, but the idea is this: We’re in the country for 20 days prior to Christmas, so we’ve limited our new advent activity to those 20 days. We each bought ten gifts for $3.00 or under for the other person, then wrapped said gifts in similar wrapping paper (gifts for him are wrapped in blue, and gifts for me are wrapped in snowmen) and stuffed them in a basket. Like with the ornaments, we alternate days, each getting little gifts—just a tiny tease of the awesome holiday at the end of the month.

Will this be our new tradition? Maybe, maybe not. But this year we’re embracing it!

What traditions do you celebrate throughout the month of December?



One Response to “The Final Countdown”

  1. Jill says:

    A new tradition – since our hazelnut bushes are now producing a “crop” – is making a “product” to give our family and friends. This year it’s hazelnut/pecan/cranberry bread. We’re already gathering recipe ideas for next year.

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Portrait of JoAnna Haugen Freelance writer, globe trotter, former Peace Corps volunteer, avid recycler, creativity connoisseur, idea inventor and planning my next great adventure.