An Advent Tradition: Reading 25 Books for Christmas (one each night)

You’ve seen them, right? Seasonal or holiday-themed bucket lists? They seem to be all the rage in the mommy blog world and have been made even more popular with Pinterest.

The second I quit my job to stay home with Annalyn, I started creating lists and plans for every season. Driven by my fear of boredom and my ambition to “do this mom thing right,” I painstakingly sifted through events calendars and other moms’ lists, picked the perfect font and literally placed a check box in front of every “meaningful” activity I chose for my family.

It actually worked well and was a lot of fun for a while. Annalyn loved helping me pick out things to put on our lists, and she’s inherited my love of checking things off a list. So there was that, too. Then this summer happened.

After all my plans for a fun anything crumbled this summer, I was wary of making many fun plans for this fall. So I didn’t. We were super busy, so we wouldn’t have had time for much anyway. But I’ll admit that I missed having a list.

It turns out that while having a “fun list” for each season makes me more likely to go over the top with my type A tendencies, it also ensures we’re intentional about experiencing something new, keeping up a family tradition and having a little fun among the busyness of the everyday.

Still, I know how hectic the holiday season is. And now that I’m working outside the house again, I’m well aware that our family time and our fun time is limited. So this year, I’m not making a holiday bucket list. No printout, no check boxes, no gotta-get-it-done schedule. Just a decision that these are the holiday traditions we’ll keep this year.

What holiday traditions will you keep this year? I know that’s what you’re dying to ask me. It’s only fair, since I’m going to ask you, too, right?

This year, we’ll . . .

Decorate the tree together.
Listen to so much Christmas music that we hear it in our sleep.
Drink hot chocolate and watch Elf.
Watch The Grinch (the real [animated] one) with my parents and brother. (Done!)
Watch the Claymation Christmas Special with them, too.
See the Plaza lights.
Use Truth in the Tinsel for our advent calendar (with the printable ornaments).
Read a Christmas book every night.

I think I’ve figured out the key to creating and keeping traditions without turning it into just another item on a to-do list. This year, at least, we’re not adding a lot of things to our normal routine; we’re just Christmas-fying the things we already do.

We normally listen to music together in the car. So we’ll listen to Christmas music.
We occasionally watch a movie as a family. So we’ll choose a Christmas movie.
We always read a book before bedtime. So we’ll make it a Christmas book.

Reading a Book a Day for Christmas

This one’s a pretty simple tradition to start, if you’re looking for something to make your holiday season a little more special without adding dozens of cookies or homemade ornaments or caroling around your entire subdivision.

Here’s what I did:

I looked up all the Christmas books I could remember reading (as a child and to Annalyn in past years). Then I filled in my list with recommendations from friends, blogs and Amazon lists. Then I requested every single one from the library the day after Thanksgiving. Most of them will be here before December 1, but even if a few are later, it’s no big deal. We’ll just read those later in the month.

Once I get a stack of books from the library (and before December 1), I’ll wrap them up and put them in a basket under our Christmas tree. (Yes, that means I wrapped up non-Christmas books for that photo up above. Busted.)

What books should you read? You can get them from the library like I did. You could also buy 25 books or use books you already own. I didn’t have the budget for that many new books this year, and we don’t own more than a couple Christmas books (including one vintage Golden Book from my childhood!). As for which specific books to use, my friend Jessie has a great list of Jesus-centered books on her blog.

For my family, I’m gathering a variety of books that has both Jesus and Santa, elves and camels, real and make-believe. These are the books we’re reading:

  1. How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss
  2. The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore
  3. God Gave Us Christmas by Lisa Tawn Bergren
  4. Snowmen at Christmas by Caralyn Buehner
  5. Who Is Coming to Our House? by Joseph Slate
  6. Humphrey’s First Christmas by Carol Heyer
  7. Merry Christmas, Curious George by H. A. Rey
  8. Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas by Jane O’Connor
  9. The Perfect Christmas Gift (Gigi, God’s Little Princess) by Sheila Walsh
  10. A Berry Bitty Christmas (Strawberry Shortcake) by Amy Ackelsberg
  11. Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale by Martin Waddell
  12. Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson
  13. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
  14. Olivia Helps with Christmas by Ian Falconer
  15. How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas? by Jane Yolen
  16. Charlie and the Christmas Kitty by Ree Drummond
  17. Christmas in the Big Woods (Little House) by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  18. A Very Handy Holiday (Handy Manny) by Susan Ring
  19. Clubhouse Christmas (Mickey Mouse Clubhouse) by Susan Amerikaner
  20. Why Christmas Trees Aren’t Perfect by Dick Schneider
  21. Olive, the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh
  22. Christmas Cookies: Bite-Size Holiday Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
  23. A Pirate’s Night Before Christmas by Philip Yates
  24. The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving by Michael Berenstain
  25. Mooseltoe by Margie Palatini

As promised, I want to know about your traditions. What will you do to make this Christmas season special?

For more ideas, read Simple Mom’s ideas for Christmas traditions and Amanda’s alternatives to the Elf on the Shelf.

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