Every Christmas, a wooden Advent calendar graces our mantel. It is an expensive one I bought years ago when I thought nothing of shelling out big dough and loads of carbon to ring in the season. B.G. (Before Green), I stalked the Oriental Trading Company catalog for plastic treasures to fill the twenty-five days of Christmas.
Not this year. Or last.
I've found a way to keep the magic of the holiday without trading the meaning for cheap thrills. Every day of December, my boys take turns opening up a little numbered door. They find dimes, nickles, fair trade chocolate, a tiny homemade cookie, but they also find memories. A promise for an extra book at bedtime or a walk down "Christmas Tree Lane" to gaze at the lights. An announcement for a late bedtime complete with hot cocoa, a winter picnic in front of the fire, or a planned trip to grandparents' home.
Behind those doors lurk heirlooms as well. Modern heirlooms consisting of a Christmas train set. This will be our fourth year with Thomas hiding behind one of the doors but the boys are already remembering how they pulled Thomas (and Percy and their respective cars and coaches) out last year. In that way, even past Christmas extravagances have new life and meaning.
This is just one of the ways we've embraced the joy of Christmas, without the jingle. What holiday traditions are you transforming this year?