When it comes to big events in our lives, I think the anticipation is to be savoured as much as the thing itself. So I made an Advent Calendar — with an international flavour in the form of old stamps from around the world — to get the family involved and excited about Christmas.
My own childhood featured the tradition of the Advent Calendar; it is an aspect of Christmas that can foster togetherness in a simple way. Plus, our kids are just learning to count so we are making a big deal of the numbers each day.
Some of our “Christmas Letters” contain chocolate coins (a little link to Hanukkah!) and hearts, but most are filled with dried apricots. Amusingly, the kids prefer the apricots and are disappointed when they find “money” inside.
The foreign stamps are cool but they’re just for looks; of course it is interesting to investigate other countries’ Christmas customs and the history of Santa Clause (check this great site!).
And it’s wonderful to talk to people about these things. I had a long conversation with an acquaintance about her family’s Czech Christmas traditions. She said that she had never really thought about them, while growing up, but “now I feel like I’m keeping a little bit of my Dad alive when I do those things at Christmas that he used to do with us.”
That’s a great reason to develop traditions with your family, isn’t it?