I am a bit behind with this post, but we're having so much fun with it that I wanted to go ahead and put it up here anyway.
I was never really one for traditions. I mean, yeah, we eat turkey on Thanksgiving, and ham on Christmas, but that's pretty much because that's what my mom cooks every year. Honestly, I don't even really LIKE turkey or ham, but it's just what's done, so I go along with it. But other than that, I am not one for doing the same thing every year.
It's not that I like being that way, it's just the way things are. But I figured that now that Jimmy and I are 4 kids into the game, it's time to start some good traditions that will last us through the years. You know, some fun stuff that creates some really great memories. That's what I feel like is the best part of tradition anyway. I mean, I know that there are some traditions that are meant to mean more, but the traditions that I wanted to start are the ones that will just be fun and be something to look forward to.
I'm the 3rd child out of three, so I know what it's like to see your brother and sister's first baby shoes bronzed and not have any idea where yours are. So, when Elizabeth was born, and I started scrapbooking her pictures, I was determined not to do anything that would not be easily repeatable. I didn't want to be the one to blame for not bronzing someone's shoes!
Well, that plan didn't really work out too well because now Elizabeth has great, simple scrapbooks, Jo has a few pages, and Gabriel has a few pictures printed out and Jesse only exists in the computer. (I blame a lot of that on digital cameras. It used to be, in Elizabeth's day, that if you wanted to see the pictures, you had to print them, but now, you can store them indefinitely and never even print them out!)
Anyway, I digress. My point with all that was to say that if I start something, I want it to be easily repeatable so that I can be sure that everyone can benefit from any tradition that we start, not just the first born(s).
When I was little, we always had an Advent calendar that I loved to fight with my brother and sister about who got to open. I have been on the look out for a calendar like that, but nothing quite fit my desire for my new tradition.
Then I got the idea that I wanted one of those little houses with the 25 doors. You know, the ones that you open one door a day...but what to put behind those little doors? Candy? Nope. The kids are wired enough as it is. Little toys? NO! I don't need more of those strewn around the house. Besides, what would work for both Gabriel AND Elizabeth? So what to do?
Then I came up with this idea and I was so excited! I would write things on papers and put them behind the doors to be opened! But what to write? Bible verses? Yes, that's good, but I wanted something more. Something that would be super fun and get us all charged up for the season. Should I write little things like coupons to be used? Get out of dishes for the night? Don't make your bed today? No...that's not right, either. I don't like doing the dishes and I surely am not going to be making anyone else's bed in the morning...
Then it hit me. Hello, light bulb!
This is what we did:
We divided the family up into 3 teams: Jo and Jimmy are team 1, Gabriel and Elizabeth are team 2, and Jesse and I are team 3. Then each team was given 8 pieces of paper. Then we went into different areas of the house and had to fill out our papers. On 2 of the papers we needed to say one thing that our team would do with each of the other teams (total of 4 entries), on 2 papers we needed to put one thing that we could do together as a family, one paper was a wildcard that you can put whatever you want to on it, and on the last paper we needed to come up with something that we could do together as a family for someone else...like a charity or a neighbor. Then we all had to fold the papers up small enough and stick them behind the doors without showing them to anyone.
The excitement was palpable! Gabriel and Elizabeth went upstairs, Jesse and I went into the living room and Jo and Jimmy were in the dining room. Gabriel kept coming down to show me what he 'wrote' (I think Elizabeth sent him to be a spy!) Jimmy and Jo kept giggling and Jesse kept trying to crawl into the dining room to see what all the fuss was about.
Anyway, here's what we have so far:
Day 1: (Team 1's entry) Movie and popcorn together
Day 2: empty because team 1 missed one of their slips of paper
Day 3: Team 3 takes Team 2 to Target (no purchase necessary) This was so fun! First we went through the clothes for Elizabeth, then we went to the toys and let Jesse and Gabriel play...and put it all back, of course!
Day 4: Team 2 will wake up early so the Team 1 can sleep in. This was great for Jimmy because he is the one who always wakes up with the little kids. And since it was 'in the house' the little guys didn't complain at all like they usually do if someone else tries to pour their cereal.
Day 5: Team 2 is going to draw beautiful pictures for Team 3's enjoyment.
Day 6: (Team 2's entry) Family Game Night (board or TV games)
Day 7: Team 3 takes Team 2 to Best Buy (no purchase necessary)
Day 8: Team 1 gives foot massage to Team 3 (mmmmm....not sure how much Jesse will appreciate this, but I know I sure will!)
Day 9: (Team 3's entry) Family trip to see the lights in the DC Zoo
Day 10: Team 1 will do leaf rubbings with Team 3
Day 11: (Team 2's Charity) Go to the Thrift Store to buy clothes and toys to donate.
Day 12: (Team 2's entry) Family movie night!
Day 13: Hah! I can't tell you yet! We haven't gotten that far. Now you're just going to have to wait!
Every morning, everyone is so excited to gather around the Advent house to open the next door. And it's been so much fun to see the family come together to do the different things that have been listed. We have not done them all yet, we can't always do the one for that day on the day that it is opened, but we will get to all of them. So there is the fun of opening the doors plus the fun of bringing the family together to do things that are special to us.
And I say that's just what a tradition should be.