A Custom Christmas (Pt. 1)

I get it now, I do – this crazy Christmas hype. When I was a kid, Christmas was everything. It was snowflakes and carols, curled ribbons and gooey buckeyes. And then – somewhere along the way – I lost the spark. I fell victim to every plot in every holiday movie: Grown-up grows weary of holiday shopping and hustle and bustle. Fails to see Christmas magic until a dimpled kid or traumatic event or incredible miracle provides a tangible ‘Come to Jesus‘ moment. Then boom – Christmas is real again. It’s real and it’s here and it’s magic. Hark the Herald, angels sing. Hallelujah and glory forever, Amen.

For me, that dimpled kid is Bee. And it didn’t take an event or a miracle for her to show me that Christmas can, indeed, be a time of total, unabashed celebration.

It’s for the young at heart.

It’s for the big littles.

It’s for the kids and the kids who used to be kids.

For the record, Ken never lost his spark. He’s a true elf deep down, I just know it, and can easily carry on a twenty minute debate on whether or not we should decorate the tree to the Bing Crosby or Dean Martin playlist. Popcorn garland or tinsel? Hot chocolate or eggnog?

Both, he’d answer, with a twinkle in his eye. The man is Ginger Santa.

But for me, I took a bit longer. And although my feet are firmly planted in the pro-Christmas arena once again, you won’t find them rushing around town to fulfill wish lists or ship packages. Instead, our feet are shuffling to the beat of a different drum(mer boy).

[You’re welcome for that one, btw.]

This year, we’re holing up. We’re establishing our own traditions to create a custom Christmas – one void of expectations and to do lists. First up? The advent calendar.

Here’s the thing: I love a good advent calendar. I love the idea of drawing out the holiday season as long as one possibly can – trickling the joy, little by little, like sifting a trail of cocoa powder over a pan of fresh-baked mocha fudge brownies. And so, every year, I get the grand idea that this is The Year of the Advent Calendar. We’re doing it and we’re going to do it right, and we’re filling each day with a great holiday activity like ice-skating on a picturesque pond or hanging outdoor lights in wool sweaters or singing carols door-to-door, all rosy cheeked and mittened. You know, Norman Rockwell stuff.

We have never, not once, not ever done these things. They exist only in my mind, because each year I write down these activities, we skip all of them except for our favorite: watch a Christmas movie with a giant bowl of mixed nuts.

We’re always good for a movie night, but it wasn’t until last year that we decided this – this(!) will be our tradition. It’s not quite deserving of Mr. Rockwell and it certainly won’t grace the cover of a holiday card but good gracious, do we ever enjoy it. It’s simple and quiet and us.

And so, we logged into our trusty Netflix queue and I furiously penned every Lifetime Christmas movie I could find. (Those are the best, you know, as the winterland scenery and mediocre acting is unmatched.)

And then we listed the classics.

And a few just-for-Bee picks.

And, lastly, some mistletoe-infused romantic comedies, because ’tis the season. If you’re in the market for a Christmas movie advent calendar of your own, here’s precisely what made the cut:

1. Frosty the Snowman (Bee’s pick!)
2. A Christmas Carol
3. A Christmas Story
4. Happy Christmas
5. A Charlie Brown Christmas
6. It’s a Wonderful Life
7. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
8. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
9. White Christmas
10. Christmas Angel
11. Surviving Christmas
12. A Colbert Christmas
13. Call Me Mrs. Miracle
14. The Christmas Ornament
15. Trading Christmas
16. Lucky Christmas
17. An Evergreen Christmas
18. Little Women
19. Elf
20. The Polar Express
21. Christmas in Connecticut
22. Home Alone
23. Love Actually
24. Planes, Trains & Automobiles
25. Miracle on 34th Street

And then, we hung our custom advent calendar – void of toys and treats; full of movie night anticipation.

We’ve already watched three of our twenty-five picks, which is most definitely cheating given that we’re a good two weeks early, but isn’t that the entire point of a custom Christmas? To slow down just long enough to make a memory that works for your family?

To hole up or head out.

To ring sleigh bells or enjoy silent nights.

To bring frankincense or myrrh.

Perhaps someday when Bee’s older we’ll don those matching wool sweaters and cut an evergreen from the Christmas tree farm. But this year – on this sofa, on this night – all is calm.

And all is most certainly bright.



This post is Part 1 of my holiday series with Land of Nod, one of my favorite brands for kids. Thank you for reading, and shop the post below!

Advent Calendar ($49)
Sleeping Bag ($89)
Doll Sleeping Bag ($29)
Sweet Dream Pajamas
Go Go Doll ($25)

  • beautifully written, as always, erin. I love the idea of a Christmas movie advent! with an infant in our home now, we are most certainly slowing down and reveling in the calm wonder of this season. I’m sure in the years to come they will bring more hustle & bustle.

    • Oh yes, what a great season for a holiday movie marathon – newborns are perfect for forcing you to slow down, yes? :)

  • Yes! My husband and I have been transient for the last 5 years which made Christmas a different hustle each year. We just bought a house and decided that this year we would start our own family tradition. On Thanksgiving weekend we’re going to go to our favorite board games store and buy a new board game, put up and decorate the tree, blow up the air mattress in the living room and having a slumber party. We’ll play our new game, eat popcorn and watch a Christmas movie. After we decided on our tradition we both agreed, “It’s so us!”

    P.S. “The Holiday” is my favorite movie and worth consideration for next years advent movie calendar.

    • Ha, that is SOOOO us, too! What a great custom tradition for you. :) And thanks for the tip on “The Holiday!”

  • I love this idea, we will have a newborn early December and I had given up on the idea of doing an advent because I wanted to enjoy the season with my family without a to-do list. This is perfect:).

  • Fabulous tradition! We haven’t started any official traditions yet, but we do also spend some time on the couch with the movies. I’m now a Christmas Story convert, too, after watching it for the first time with my hubby a few years ago. Yay!

  • What a great idea!!! I love the focus on slowing down and not waiting for Dec. 1st. Sounds like the start of a great tradition for years to come!

  • This is genious. I feel like some advent calendars become over the top with gifts and candies and the month becomes a crazy time of just spending money, while this movie idea is the perfect way of stayin gin the spirit while still bringing a lot of holiday cheer. I might be stealing this as a new family tradition.
    Thank you!

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