all the things

Merry 2.0

I love Christmas. And this year, I am leaning in to the joy and festivity of the holidays more than ever before.

There are family traditions that just won’t happen this year. The one that makes me the saddest is not getting to New York to visit friends and family and spend a day in the city. We won’t see the giant Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center this year, and that’s a huge hole in my holiday merry. Yet we are happy and healthy and incredibly blessed, and I’m so happy to be enjoying the holidays after such a strange and difficult year.

This year, I’ve felt moved to celebrate the holiday season in ways I haven’t previously, in the following ways:

After much careful negotiating with Tamara, she agreed to get our Christmas tree the weekend before Thanksgiving. We did not decorate it until the day after Thanksgiving. (Well, some of us actually started stringing the lights immediately after the kids went to bed on Thursday.) Edgar likes to tell people, “It was a Thanksgiving tree, and now it’s a Christmas tree.” I was so grateful to spend the day after Thanksgiving unpacking Christmas ornaments and decorating the house. We don’t do a ton of decorating – I love Christmas, but I don’t love having a ton of stuff, especially when the stuff only comes out once a year! But what we have is sweet and festive. Jo Jo was excited to play with a small stuffed Santa, everyone put on Santa hats, and Edgar definitely thinks “ornament” means “toy that I can play with that goes back on the tree when I’m done.”

We started working on a holiday-themed playlist on the morning after Thanksgiving. This is my first year with an Alexa at Christmastime – it was a gift from my brother last year. I’ve been surprised at how much I love it. The first songs we added were our classic faves – Holly Jolly Christmas, The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year, Wonderful Christmastime. Then I started googling and making requests and discovering new titles I’d never heard before. My current fave is Sleigh Ride by TLC, Jo Jo likes anything Rudolph, and Edgar is into I’m The Grinch by Tyler the Creator.

Never in my life have I attempted to put up outdoor Christmas lights on a house. My dad always did it at my childhood home, and I loved it. But as an adult? I’ve never thought it worth the trouble. I’ve just appreciated the lights and efforts of others. But this year, in a year that’s been low on merriment, when we have fewer commitments outside of the home, when we have a four-year-old asking when we’re going to put up our own light display, we went for it. I climbed on the roof and there are now twinkly colored lights hanging from the gutter along the front of our house. I’m also making notes about adding inflatables to our display for next year. WHO AM I?

The sweetest Advent calendar ever. Tamara and I went back and forth about having an Advent calendar. We contemplated a candy-based one (too many sweets) and a cotton ball Santa Claus beard (we did this last year, the kids weren’t that into it), and we almost abandoned the idea altogether. Thankfully, we ended up making one, and it’s awesome. We cut out a cardboard tree (lots of cardboard boxes available right now!), and Edgar painted it with green glitter paint. Every day, the boys each get an “ornament” (most made by crafty Tamara) and they have to glue their ornament on the number(s) for that day. (We included two of every number, so both boys get to glue an ornament each day.) I love our Advent calendar because it’s festive and really seems to help with the passage of time; we keep explaining to Edgar that the closer we get to Christmas, the more ornaments will be on the Advent tree. This has NOT stopped him from checking his stocking every morning to see if Santa paid him an early visit.

We actually sent Christmas cards this year! This is my first year ever sending a large number of Christmas cards. I have never thought of this as a Have To of the holiday season, and many years, I just would not have had the time to do it. This year, thanks to Postcards To Voters, I knew I could do an efficient job of writing, addressing, and mailing cards if I wanted to do it. And you know what? I did want to do it. I miss My People so much this year, and I just wanted to reach out and be in touch in some small way. The photos we took were adorable and I was so happy to send them out to a small group of family and friends.

The return of the Night Night Fairy! A year or so ago, Edgar was getting really fussy at bedtime, so we started getting visits from the Night Night Fairy. We never caught a glimpse of her, but every night she would deliver pajamas and a book to read on Edgar’s bed. That delightful surprise brought a little fun to our otherwise bummer bedtime routine, and really helped us behaviorally. This year for the holidays, I really wanted to do a sort of Advent calendar of books – for every night of December, we’d have a Christmas/holiday/winter-themed book to read at bedtime. But I didn’t want the book to be a wrapped gift, as I’ve seen done elsewhere – I didn’t want to set up an expectation of receiving a present or a brand-new book every day of the month. So I set aside all the books we own that fit the Christmas/winter/holiday theme – it was probably about 10-15 books – and then did a bunch of requests from the library for more. Now every night at bedtime, we look inside a little Santa bag and we find the boys’ pajamas for the night and a holiday/winter book to read. It is lovely and merry.

Many evenings, we’ve taken nighttime Christmas light walks – just short strolls around the neighborhood to check out the holiday displays. We’ve taken a couple of drives, too, but I especially love the walks – it’s a little extra exercise right after dinner, it gets us outside, and it’s an enjoyable activity we can do at the time of day when I am just spent, creativity-wise, and don’t have any more Mom tricks up my sleeve. The boys love it, because it feels extra-special to them to be outside in the dark, and we are often pleasantly surprised whenever a new house puts up their display.

EVERYTHING ELSE MISCELLANEOUSLY MERRY. We are here for all of it this year. Cinnamon applesauce ornaments, salt dough ornaments, a Santa with a cotton ball beard, a snowman shapes activity. Stringing jingle bells and felted ornaments and popcorn and cranberries. ALL OF IT.

Merry whatever to you and yours. Cheers to doing anything and everything you can to bring a smile to your face as we close out this *unprecedented* year!

Photo by Kristina Paukshtite on

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