This time of year means something a little different to each person. Whether you enjoy the time with family, the traditions, the craft fairs, the food, or the giving and receiving, there are so many things to appreciate about this time of year. For me, the holidays have a more important meaning to me the older I get. Actually, it’s not my age that makes it more important but really the age of my kids. There are very specific memories that have followed me from a young age about this time of year. Of course I remember the evening that my brother broke the news of Santa; just before we headed out for our school Christmas program.

Clearly it still haunts me. I vividly remember the first Christmas after we knew. We were sent on a scavenger hunt around the house to find the big present. To this day, it was my favorite. I always asked mom to do it again! My parents, let’s be honest here, my mom, still went out of her way to make Christmas morning just as magical as it was when Santa came. To me, it became more about making it fun and not as much about what we had taken away from us; the magical idea of Santa Claus. I remember peeking my head around the corner late at night- because there was NO WAY I could get to sleep. I would count the presents to see if any had been added to the pile. Finally, I would fall asleep in the wee hours. I never did catch Santa in the act.

Some of my favorite memories

My grandpa’s birthday is on Christmas Eve and he and Granny always had the most stellar Christmas lights at their house. We always had prime rib for dinner. I remember staring out the big window awaiting the arrival of my aunt and uncle and first best friend, my cousin. It always took them forever to get here. Grandpa would make Buford the dummy roping steer look like he was pulling a life-size Santa Sleigh. There was a bell made out of lights that hung on the barn and another in the shape of a star on the house. Back then, there weren’t as many homes in the neighborhood so there were not very many lights, either. In the morning we would tear through our gifts then pack up and go across the river to Granny and Grandpa’s to spend the day. It never occurred to me why Santa would fill stockings in both places but who am I to look a gift horse in the mouth! I could count on silly puddy and a new tooth brush each year; a giving tradition I have happily kept up!

I hear more and more stories of families whose kiddos are of the ripe age that they start asking questions and it becomes apparent that it is time to share the whole truth. I can tell you with absolute certainty, that when that day comes, I will be the parent that explains it more as a role that each of us plays. The Christmas spirit is something that was taught to me and shown to me through our family get togethers. It is more about creating that magic for others and the spirit of giving.

As the time comes for my kids to know the truth, I have found myself focusing more on the true reason for the season so that when I have that conversation I have concrete things to reference. The birth of Jesus Christ has become more of a focus every year. Each year, it seems that we get wrapped up in the gifts and move farther away from where it all started. This year I made a very conscious effort to change that. I am sure we will go overboard on gifts but I have focused more on the spirit of the season by creating my own advent. They seem a little bulky at first. Each envelope has 3 different cards with a little different focus; 25 names of Jesus, the Christmas Story, and 25 acts of kindness. I found these printables on pinterest.

The homemade advent calendar hangs from the mantle.

I was hopeful for what would happen when we started opening these. I never expected what actually did happen. In the past we had the store bought ones that presented each kiddo with a piece of chocolate. Nothing remotely related to Jesus. I liked the aspect of the countdown but really wanted more for them and for me. I hoped they wouldn’t loose interest after a couple of days with no immediate reward for opening the envelope. I was wrong.

Day One act of Kindness in our homemade Advent Calendar.

I think Owen is too young to understand the names of Jesus but I know he is hearing what I am reading. Reagan has been more and more interested in Jesus and getting to know him personally so I knew this would be up her alley. Their reactions to the acts of kindness is what has warmed my heart and truly reminded me of the reason for the season. The first act was to write a thank you note to the mail carrier. I didn’t really think much about it, didn’t even take a picture of what she drew. I was completely overwhelmed when we got home Monday to a little return note from Joseph, the mailman. The reaction from Reagan was pure joy. And she was so proud of herself. Owen made his note that night, too. She made sure we got to the envelope the next morning and we will hopefully follow through with that act tomorrow, surely by the weekend. We might have a few acts stacked up due to our busy schedules, but we will get them done. She will make sure of it. There aren’t many days that I feel like I am doing it right, but I think I did this right. I’ll take this #parentingwin!

Joseph The Mailman’s return letter had a profound impact on both the kids, and me too!