Last week, I planned out much of our Christmas season. I purchased tickets to the Lincoln Park Zoo lights, scheduled our weekend to attend the Geneva Christmas walk, and selected dates to view the Christmas Around the World exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. With all these holiday activities on the calendar, our family was eager for the holiday season.
Now, Chicago reentered phase 5 of COVID lock-downs, so much of our plans may get changed. This will still be a purposeful season mixed with old and new traditions. I decided to celebrate the simple things this winter to help our family stay positive and make meaningful memories. I do not want our traditions this season to be dependent on local COVID numbers. It isn’t pleasant when events are canceled due to circumstances outside our control.
Traditions are a large part of our family culture. My girls look forward to simple traditions like Sunday night family movies to our yearly Christmas tree decorating. To make the most out of these winter days at home, I planned simple celebrations that can’t get canceled.
First Day of Snow
It has always stuck with me that an acquaintance of mine would make cookies on the day of the first snowfall and take them to her neighbors. I thought this was such a meaningful, simple gesture to celebrate the winter season. This made me realize that the first snowfall is worth celebrating.
We technically have had flurries and frost in the morning, but I am waiting for a substantial amount of snow for our first simple celebration. I plan “Just Because We Can Days,” which is a day that we take off from normal school day and enjoy something just for fun. When we get enough snow this winter, we will take a day off school and hit up the sledding hills.
I purchased three new sleds that are hiding in our garage to make the first snow day more special. I also bought hot chocolate bombs from our local chocolate shop, so the girls have an extra surprise when we get home from sledding. I am all set for our snow day fun, so hopefully, we don’t have to wait too long to enjoy this simple celebration.
When it comes to Christmas, I have a system for giving gifts. I enjoy buying, wrapping, and sending gifts to friends and family. It is relaxing for me to do this in the evenings after the girls are tucked into bed. All my girls are of the age that they want to be part of the gift-giving processes.
Since I have plenty of time this holiday season, I decided this year to bring them into the gift-giving aspects. The girls enjoy thinking about each person we send gifts to and selecting a gift that fits them. I am trying to shop locally as much as possible, so looking through the local toy store’s catalog and circling gift ideas has been a simple, fun activity.
My middle daughter, Heidi, expressed her disappointment in not seeing extended family this year for Christmas. She articulated how she enjoys giving gifts to others and seeing the joy on their face. After we talked about the joy that giving gifts brings to the giver, I thought it would be worth throwing our own packing party to celebrate the simple joy of giving.
The weekend after Thanksgiving is when Adelynn will make homemade egg nog, we will eat some of our favorite crinkle cookies, turn on Christmas music, and gather around for our packing party. Making much out of a simple task creates a connection for our family and meaning for giving to others. This is the year to celebrate the simple moments.
This packing party will not be a peaceful time in the evenings it used to be when I accomplished this task on my own. I am sure wrapping paper, bows, and ribbons will be strewn about the room. I will hear “mom, can you help” more times than I can count. But this season, it isn’t about checking items off the list; I want my focus on celebrating the simple pleasures as a family. The joy of the moment is worth the work.
I knew early on that Christkindlmarket would be one of our annual traditions that was not going to be offered this year. Our family always looks forward to driving into Chicago and weaving through the crowd of people in Daley Plaza to sip our mulled wine or hot chocolate out of the current year’s mug.
After we have something hot to drink, we continue to squeeze through people to enjoy the quaint shops that come from all over the world. The hand-painted glass ornaments, Russian matryoshka dolls, and intricate whirligigs are beautiful to browse through. We usually come home with a few special keepsakes and full tummies as we try different foods from around Europe.
Thankfully, my mom gave me the tip that Christkindlmarket was going virtual. I bought the girls each a new mug this year and started planning our Christkindlemarket at home. It will definitely not be the same since window shopping is a big part of the girls’ fun.
Our at-home version will revolve around the food that the market offers. The girls and I will put together a Swiss-style warm raclette dinner. Raclette is a cheese that tastes great atop steamed potatoes, cured Swiss meats, baguettes, vegetables, and an assortment of sauces. I found this great blog that details how to throw a raclette party. Now, I need to gather the supplies, and we will be set for our simple celebration.
It is easy to fall into the slump of disappointment when reality falls short of expectations. I was looking forward to a season of celebrating with family coming in from all over the country. Our family has much to celebrate this year with new nephews, a niece on the way, a niece entering the toddler stage, and Mike graduating from Kellogg. But COVID drastically changed all the travel plans. I had to change my expectations and rethink how our family would celebrate this year.
This Christmas season, I am looking for opportunities to celebrate the simple pleasures of the season. Adding ambiance with crockpot potpourri, Christmas music, and tasty treats makes any task a simple celebration.
Simple celebrations are my solution to this holiday season at-home. What are some simple celebrations that you are planning this year?
Simply Cultivate is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.