As my kids get older and I get wiser, pulling it all together gets a little easier and little less stressful and chaotic. I never quite feel that I have achieved the ideal Advent state of anticipation and stillness, but I've made progress.
However, there are always the extras you hope to add to the mix during the Christmas season that usually don't end up happening. For example, I always think about how wonderful it would be to make ornaments to attach to gifts, host a caroling party for my daughter's classmates, take a family drive to hit the coolest Christmas lights, or finally make it to The Walnut Room after 22 years of living in Chicago.
But ... baby steps.
This year I'm aiming for five little things ... my "Five Golden Rings" for December 2023. If I go 0/5 or 4/5, so be it, but I'm sharing them here for accountability and inspiration.
My "5 Golden Rings" for December 2023
1. Walk the Winter Lights at Central Park in Oak Brook. This is a short but enchanting walk through the woods at the Oak Brook Park District. Best not attempted on a bitterly cold evening but delightful on a mild night or with proper bundling. Bonus points if I get a kid or friend to join me, but walking it alone would still count.
2. Sit on the couch with my kids and watch the Mickey Christmas special of their choice. Once Upon a Christmas. Twice Upon a Christmas. Mickey's Christmas Carol. Any one of these gems will do. It is a cliche, but I feel like it was five minutes ago that my kids had wet post-bath hair and Christmas footie pajamas. My oldest goes to college next year, and I am craving this moment on the couch with my squad.
3. Walk to Elmhurst History Museum and enjoy the Lost Chicagoland Department Stores exhibit. I drive or walk past the EHM multiple times each day. I notice the signage for the current exhibit and think, "Oh, that sounds cool, I will check it out." And then, I don't. It is free and a five-minute walk from my house. Again, bonus points if I get a kid or friend to go with me, but solo is fine too.
4. Do one "extra thing" at church. Concert? Prayer service? Early morning weekday mass? A talk? Dealer's choice.
5. Make Peppermint Crunch Puppy Chow and share with a friend. I love making and consuming my own special-recipe puppy chow. My college roommate blew her family's minds with a Peppermint Crunch Puppy Chow that she debuted at Thanksgiving. I'm going to give it a whirl. We don't bake Christmas cookies or make fudge or pour melted chocolate into holiday-shaped molds around here, but we can expand our puppy chow repertoire.