Advent Calendar – Dec 13th: The Twelve Dates of Christmas ,m

Yes, you read that title correctly and it was not a typo.

Traditions have always been big in my family, thanks mostly to my husband who was a big fan of repeating events and activities that our daughter enjoyed while growing up. Camping out in the backyard to mark the last day of school, ending the summer with a trip to Canada’s Wonderland, and other little rituals he ensured we did year after year on Canada Day, for Hallowe’en and at Christmas.

At the heart of every family tradition is a meaningful experience.

These traditions created fond memories that we often look back upon, laughing or retelling the story as a family. They bring us comfort and strengthen the bond among family members, and we make sure to include newcomers in our family tradition. Our son in law also gets an advent calendar from us on December 1 every year to mark the start of our Christmas season even if they are both adults and could buy their own.

A couple of years ago, my husband and I started a new tradition. As empty-nesters, it was important for us to develop pastimes and rituals that were unique to us as a couple. Being retired, we have more time to be together now, and it was important for us to keep the fun going in our relationship.

So, we created the Twelve Dates of Christmas as a time to reconnect with each other, and engage in different activities related to the season. We kick it off on December 12th, and run it all the way to Christmas Eve. Our activities are not exclusive to just the two of us, and we will include friends and family on some of our dates.

Here are some of the ideas and ways that we have found to fill our calendar during the 12-day period.

  • A couple of hours Christmas shopping, followed by an afternoon cocktail and appetizer at one of our favourite establishments.
  • Christmas Baking while enjoying a seasonal playlist we both enjoy.
  • Meeting friends for dinner or brunch.
  • Going to a movie.
  • Doing a charitable act, such as helping out with a food drive, or sorting out toys, or putting together packages for the 90+ members of our community who are homeless.
  • Treating ourselves to a coffee at a local coffee shop.
  • Hosting little get together or dinner with friends or family members.
  • Going out for a drive, and bringing our camera to capture those beautiful winter scenes
  • Having a date with our daughter and her husband.
  • Meeting my parents for an afternoon of card playing.
  • Taking in some of the activities in town
  • Visiting a local Christmas craft market

Some of the activities can be ordinary, but by doing it with the purpose of a date, they take on more charm. The dates allow us to fully appreciate the joys of having each other, in a season often rushed and pressed. Its a way to focus on the present, and give thanks for our blessings. We are most grateful when we can talk about good times, and share in conversations that help us appreciate each other, our family and our friends.

This year, our dates also include something that is a physical activity for me, to celebrate my increased mobility. A walk around the block on a sunny day or a gym date where he comes with me on my morning workout mean so much to me, and brings us closer.

We kicked off our Twelve Dates of Christmas yesterday by engaging together in the kitchen while listening to Christmas music.

We tested a healthy dark chocolate bark recipe we had never tried before, and cooked up a few meals for the week. Being in full creative mode, we also collaborated on creating a nativity scene with things we had around the house. We enjoyed spending time together, collaborating on these projects, and sharing in the warm feeling of accomplishment.

I look forward to our new tradition and that is what its all about. Precious memories don’t just happen – well they do, but many times, you have to be intentional and create them. Its good to plan and prepare for them, so that they do happen and it gives us something to look forward to, and revisit fondly afterwards.

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