Longtime readers will know that I LOVE all things Christmas. Advent is my favourite time of year. I enjoy all the things that this time of year brings, like carols and driving around to see the lights, nativity plays, going to church on Christmas Eve; all of it. My tree goes up on December 1st, and you might (okay, you will definitely) see me singing along to all those annoying Christmas songs that stores start pumping out in November.
As a Christian, it is also a very meaningful time of year. I try to take time out each day to do a devotional, to re-read Luke’s gospel, to reflect on the gift that is Jesus.
This year will be a Christmas like no other for my family.
In less than two weeks, our belongings will be packed up, shipped to Wellington and put into storage. We don’t know how long for, because Mr G’s new job still has to find us a house to rent! We’re very fortunate that we can stay with friends in my hometown for as long as we need to.
We are taking a much needed holiday between jobs – a break that includes a two week road trip around the gorgeous sights of the South Island, and catching up with friends who we’ve not seen in ages. So, for much of Advent, we will be on the road.
It feels somewhat flat to not have a Christmas tree, the end-year-parties to attend, and no plans to make gifts for my loved ones (normally by now we are knee deep in ginger beer and other goody-makings). The advent calendar I made several years ago, will be gathering dust in storage. The nativity books we read each year will be boxed up.
This year I have been super organised with getting my Christmas cards out and gifts for my December birthday friends, but I’m not making a single thing this year. Moving is stressful enough without adding a long road trip and Christmas to it, and I don’t want to add crafting or baking madly on Dec 23rd into the mix because of some self-imposed idea of what I should or should not gift at Christmas.
As my kids get older, the more they are exposed to the world. Santa is everywhere. Gimme, gimme, gimme is everywhere. So I plan to keep on observing Advent on the road to help my children (and me) focus on the ‘reason for the season’.
Here’s how we’re doing advent on the road:
- I’ve bought a couple of chocolate advent calendars. One has Marvel superheroes and one has Toy Story 4. Because nothing says ‘Christmas’ quite like Hulk Smash, am I right? Actually, they did have ONE solitary nativity chocolate advent calendar but it looked of very dubious origin and I don’t want to give my kids radioactive chocolate. Anyway, Buzz, Woody and Hulk Smash etc are light, and way more robust than the family advent calendar I created a few years ago. Hopefully the two calendars will make it to Dec 24 after being battered around in the car.
- We’re still going to celebrate St Nicholas’ Day (Dec 5 or 6, depending on what country you live in). We don’t do Santa, but we do celebrate the actual saint who inspired the Santa myth. We’ll read a story about him (I must write my own because, trust me, there is quite a gap in the market for a well-written book on St Nick), and the kids will find some coins in their shoes when they wake up.
- We’re going to ‘follow the star’. In a similar vein to Elf on the Shelf (which I despise, so I’m kinda ashamed to realise I’m doing something similar), I am taking the star from our Christmas tree with us. It’s light and doesn’t take up much space. Where ever we are, the kids can wake up to find the star hiding in plain sight, and follow it, like the Wise Men. We’re going to be staying in a dazzling array of places, but that twinkling, comforting star will be there too.
- We’ve got a carols playlist. As I mentioned, I have zero shame belting out carols way before December, so why should the confines of my car be any different? For the record, O, Holy Night is my favourite.
- We’ll read a bit of the Christmas story from the Bible each day. I also have a small advent journey game I picked up last year, for when we’re looking for something to do while we’re travelling.
- I’m bringing the kid’s Christmas sacks with me, because familiar things are comforting.
And that’s plenty. Now I see it in a list it seems like a lot, but they are all very simple things. Calendar, story, songs.
We will be in my hometown for Christmas, and I’m looking forward to seeing our church family there, and their annual Christmas Eve family service. This will be our last Christmas where we are free to do what we want and go where we want, as Mr G will be pretty darn busy as a minister in Christmases to come.
As our time in Pleasant Point comes to an end, I am mostly feeling surprisingly chill about the move. I’ve whizzed through my to-do list, and have only got fun things like farewell parties, and not-so-fun things like defrosting the fridge left to do.
May your own journey towards Christmas be a joyful and peaceful one.