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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Countdown to Christmas/Advent (10/23/08)

TITLE: Is It Christmas Yet?
By Joy Bach


Whatever happened to Thanksgiving? It’s not even Halloween yet, and the Christmas decorations, wrapping paper and cards have been on the shelves for weeks.

When my children were young, we had a rule at our house. Christmas came AFTER Thanksgiving. There would be no Christmas music until then. Since I had raised them to act intelligent and ask questions, I then had to define exactly what I meant by “after Thanksgiving”. I settled on “after the Thanksgiving meal is celebrated and the dishes cleared away”.

Out would come the audiotapes…mostly Christian themed. But we had Charlie Brown and the Chipmunks. The “oldies” such as White Christmas and Rudolph were included. The music would start in the morning before school and begin again as soon as school was over. We had them all memorized and as the girls grew older; we would harmonize along with the songs.

The anticipation for Christmas grew daily.

The first Christmas after their father left, I was in despair. How would I provide anything for Christmas? The Salvation Army escorted me into a room full of games and toys and told me to pick one for each child. How grateful I was to be able to have a surprise for them on Christmas morning.

One year I gave them an Advent calendar, with a piece of chocolate hidden behind a flap for each day. As the countdown toward Christmas continued, the chocolate disappeared. They were supposed to take turns. Apparently one of them (unnamed of course) decided to eat the chocolate for the correct day and then have an extra counting back from the 25th. It wasn’t pretty the day the flap was opened and it was empty…from there until the end of the calendar.

That didn’t work.

So I sewed an Advent calendar. Nothing edible. Just little pockets for each day, with a little present to place in the pocket to show that day had arrived. As far as I know, no one ate any of the presents.

Another rule at my house was regarding the amount of toys and games my children had acquired over the past year. Their father, my ex-husband, flooded them with presents on a regular basis. They needed to learn to share. A few weeks before Christmas, out would come a cardboard box. They knew the drill. They were to go through their toys and games and divide…one for them…one for the needy. The one for the needy had to be in good condition with all its parts and pieces.

They would accompany me as we took their spoils to the Salvation Army or Goodwill, to help someone else enjoy Christmas. We had been on that “needy” side and understood the gratefulness when gifts had been provided for us. It was time to give back.

We always decorated the tree early enough to enjoy it for at least a week. It was a big production. Christmas music playing, hot chocolate and cookies available in the kitchen, and usually a friend or two to help in the process. I enjoyed watching their deliberations for the perfect place for each item. I tried to just stay out of it, even though all the red bulbs might be on one side and all the lights on the other. Decorating the tree was about family and making memories.

The atmosphere changed for Christmas Eve. After attending the Christmas Eve service at the church, we would gather around the tree, sitting on the floor. I would read the Christmas story from Luke in the King James Version of the Bible. As they grew older, they had heard it so many times that we just quoted it. After some serious talking about the meaning of Christmas, then the mood would lighten.

That’s when we would say (from memory) “Twas the Night Before Christmas”.

Christmas morning was especially hard on them. As early as 3:00 or 4:00 a.m., they would come to my bed and ask if it was Christmas morning yet. It was a trick. They knew it was morning and it was Christmas. If I said, “Yes”, then we would all have to get up. But I was smarter than that.

Another rule was given. It had to be light outside. As the first streaks of dawn appeared in the sky, the announcement would be made loud and clear. IT WAS CHRISTMAS MORNING!

The children are grown and gone. The Christmas season isn’t nearly as action packed and chaotic. It’s also a bit boring.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Connie Dixon10/30/08
The countdown really does seem a lot more exciting for kids. Thank you for teaching your children to share their gifts. What an awesome way for them to grow up.....realizing that some kids have way too much, and some have almost nothing at all. And they can make a difference!