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An Event Advent

Little L is obsessed with the "Snowflake Day" from Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. In this PC, Christmas-free holiday special, the children of the neighborhood put on a school play for "Snowflake Day." The little girl in the play is granted three wishes by a fairy, and she asks for three presents. When she discovers that her newly-acquired gifts cannot play with her, tell her a joke or give her a hug, she cries into her pillow out of sadness. The fairy returns and magically transforms her presents into friends, and then they end the play singing, "Friends make the best presents..."

Anyway, the reminder I had from this oft-watched episode is that what is meaningful to children is our time spent with them, and not the things that we buy them. Sure, presents are fun, but Christmas can quickly become excessive and expensive, and sometimes I wonder if we don't put too much pressure on ourselves to "outdo" the previous year's material overload, spending more than we need to for no reason. After the wrapping paper has been removed, how much of the "stuff" really means something to our littles? I don't remember any of my gifts from my childhood. No, scratch that. I remember one particularly heinous pink sweatsuit that my grandparents gifted me when I was about 10; it was truly the ugliest set of clothes I had ever seen, and the biggest disappointment of a gift I had ever opened. But that's about it; I remember getting presents every year, but none of them were all that memorable.  Sorry, Mom.

I do, however, recall how special the three-day holiday feasts were every year; we would spend Christmas Eve with my grandparents, and I loved my Pau Pau's sweet and sour pork chops. On Christmas Day, mornings were spent opening gifts and watching my dad transform into a 4-year-old right before our eyes, and then the evenings would be a raucous and joyful gathering of extended family, all ready to feast on my dad's amazing Chinese and western meals. Then, on Boxing Day, we would have one last large family hurrah at my aunt and uncle's home, complete with my aunt's delicious sweet almond soup dessert. For just about the entirety of my schooling years, this was the yearly tradition that I looked forward to most.

A year ago already
And that's what I want for Little L - to create traditions and events that become meaningful memories to her. I intentionally want to shy away from overdoing the wrapped gifts, opting instead to gift her with holiday experiences that are special and that she will look forward to every year for many years to come.

Since she's only 2.5, we have only started a handful of traditions. However, each year we will add a few more, until hopefully December becomes an event-filled month that she will anticipate with great enthusiasm throughout her childhood years.

Two years ago! We didn't even put up our own tree that year. This was at my in-laws' place

So what's on our list? Here are a few things:

- Decorating the Christmas Tree

- NEW!! Santa Claus Parade : FREE but crowded, this is happening on Dec. 7 at 1:00 starting on West Georgia and Broughton St. Incidentally, that's exactly where we used to live, but we have never been to the parade because we were always at church when it happened

- Charlie Brown Christmas movie night (popcorn and hot chocolate and PJ's)

- NEW!! Timberline Ranch Country Christmas : Open Dec. 12-21 in Maple Ridge, this horse ranch becomes a winter wonderland with a bakery, petting zoo, ball pit, ornament workshop, covered wagon ride, interactive Christmas scenes, and storyland. Cost is $9/kid, $7/adult and you have to register ahead before you can go, but I am so very excited for Little L to be out in the "country" for some Christmas cheer.

- Stanley Park Bright Nights and Christmas Train : Open Nov. 27-Jan. 4 at Stanley Park, this free by donation event features a lot of lights and Christmas scenes, and a 14-minute train ride that features live performers and lots of festive music. Cost is $11/adult and $8/kid. This has already become one of our annual traditions, and we went twice last year. We may also go twice this year, but for sure once since our tickets have already been purchased.

- Vancouver German Christmas Market : Open Nov. 22-Dec. 24 in downtown Vancouver, this traditional-style Christmas market has a Christmas carousel and lots of yummy food vendors, plus live entertainment, gingerbread decorating, ornament making, and face painting. Cost is $7/adult, $3/youth, FREE for 0-6, and once you pay once, you can score a Season Pass for FREE. We went once last year, but Little L and I have a playdate there and we will be going as a family as well, so this year we are getting our $'s worth!

- NEW!! Making S'mores

- Santa Brunch at the Pan Pacific

- Van Dusen Festival of Lights : Open Dec. 10 - Jan. 4 in Vancouver, this park becomes a gorgeous and magical display of lights and music that puts even the Scroogiest of people into the festive mood. Lots of different lights displays, a Santa photo op, Make-a-Wish lego room and candle grotto, a shadow puppet show, and several tasty food vendors scattered throughout the park. Cost is $15/adults and $8/kids, so it's a bit pricier than other attractions, but worth it!

- Night drive to Trinity Street to see the holiday displays along the homes on that street

- NEW!! Decorating an edible Christmas "tree" (it's a waffle cone with green royal frosting and lots of candy)
Last year's Festival of Lights
I'm adding all of these events to her "Advent Calendar," which she starts consuming on Dec. 1st. I didn't get very crafty with DIY calendars this year, but my friend posted three great DIY calendars you could make over at Daily Mom. We are just using one of the magnetic Starbucks advent calendars, although next year I might get all crafty and make my own. 

So what are you planning to do this Christmas season? Which events have become part of your Advent?


mazoola said…
we have nearly the same advent list! I'm on the fence about the Pan Pacific brunch though as Max and Santa in one room does not go well.
Mrs. Loquacious said…
Don't worry, Mitzi! I don't even remember seeing Santa there, even though they call it the Santa Brunch. I think what really distinguishes it from regular brunches is that it has a kids' buffet with kiddie foods, too. And there is jazzy Christmas music playing in the background. :)

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