Friday, December 28, 2012


With all the hype around Christmas and so much of the focus on presents and Santa Claus it sometimes leaves Rob and I feeling a little Grinch-like.  In order to distract from the commercialism we're working on creating small traditions throughout the holiday season that will be the memories for years to come.  Its tricky business.  Especially with our oldest fast becoming a cynical pre-teen, we find that traditions have to be solid--either through time (ie the Christmas Frog below, given by Mimi 8 years ago) or given enough reverence to quell the silliness/sarcasm that has become such a part of our lives these days.

I think Clove (who also has a Juniper!) said it well:   "I have mentioned before my desire to develop meaningful rituals and traditions with my kids.  Now that Juniper is 3 and logging lifetime memories, I have an overwhelming urge to solidify lasting holiday family mores... I want our holiday to represent us--our family--and those things we hold dear.  We're working on it.  Slowly, we are carving out a place for our family within the season.  As usual, I have grand plans that are wholly unrealistic within our days.  Despite the bustle, I'm trying to focus on slow family time." 

I too (and I suspect many of you) am striving to fill in the gaps with family traditions and create  something meaningful that my children can hold onto and perhaps avoid being swept along in the current of over- spending and excessive waste.  We're still working on adjusting these rituals so they fit realistically in our lives.  Many have been ditched and new ones added,  but each year I see the promise--the children's anticipation of the Christmas Frog--and where in the Advent Calendar  he'll appear, our lantern walk, tiny solstice rituals, and the making of re-usable gift wrap.  Each of the following is one little piece of our anchor, allowing us to slow down a bit and focus on what the season truly means to us--a celebration of those around us.  A time for giving, and appreciating, and creating joy and light in these darkest of days.  

* The singing Christmas Frog.  He is loud and obnoxious, but so jolly too.  One of the activities on our calendar is to get the frog out of the box of holiday decorations and hang him up for the season.  The kids love this.

*  Another favorite Advent activity is our Lantern Walk.  We choose a clear night when we're all home and we walk our little bog walk by lantern light (usually a flashlight too if the moon isn't available).  Its short and sweet with very little ceremony.  This year's walk was our 4th and we're sticking to it.  
*  In an effort to reduce waste we've been creating our own holiday fabric wrapping each year.  Some of these I sew into drawstring sacks, others we just use as we would paper and secure with ribbons.  This year nearly all of our gifts were wrapped in cloth.  By next year I imagine we'll have a large enough stash to begin wrapping gifts for friends in hand stamped cloth as well.  


*  Santa always comes to Maine by way of the tropics and leaves tropical fruit in our stockings.  Mango, starfruit, kumquats, kiwi and persimmons are our first Christmas breakfast (followed by many other goodies to be sure).  

*  For the past 3 years we've included a drive through town to look at the lights as one of our Advent activities.  This year we added the ritual of delivering trophies to our favorites on Christmas night.  While its clear that the system needs some tweaking (we need more trophies!) we all agree this is a definite keeper.  

I'd like to add a tradition for the day after Christmas as well (Rob suggested taking down the tree).  I'm imaging some kind of marathon board game day--but perhaps that's too ambitious.  We'll see.  

I'd love to hear about what the rest of you are doing....


  1. I love your traditions, and may need to include some in our annual celebrations. I especially like the cloth wrapping, where do you purchase the cloth? I really want to crack down on our waste this year.

  2. I *love* the lantern walk. I've also been admiring your advent calendar all month--I love how you have festive activities for each day. Our advent calendar is traditional (as in, the one I grew up with), but not necessarily what I want for MY kids : )

    I had big dreams of making hand-painted (or stamped!) cloth bags this summer, but it never came to be. We've used many of Juniper's paintings and drawings as gift wrap. My parents seem to think the made-in-china half plastic gift bags are the bomb...I am seriously considering an all-out ban (do you think they'd understand?) as I don't want one more of those things in my possession. Our Christmas was good, but still...too overwhelming. Like I said, we're working on it. Happy New Year to your fam!


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