On the 3rd thru 6th Day of Christmas…
These days are flexible depending on what day of the week the holidays fall, work schedules and fitting in other family celebrations.
Being a lover of efficiency, Hermie usually tasks us with Secret Santa shopping at the thrift store the same day we drop off our “Boxing Day” load. On the final day of Christmastide, Epiphany, we reveal our Secret Santas to each other with a $5 gift from the thrift. It’s added an extra measure of hilarity and fun as armed with our $5 bills we all try to avoid each other at the store. Since we have more drivers this year, we decided to divide and conquer our secret shopping, hopefully protecting the anonymity of Santa a little longer.
When the Secret Santa tradition began about 5 years ago, Hermie tried introducing non-monetary ways for Secret Santas to bless each other by leaving notes, doing special tasks, creating special treats or using their talents to gift their Santa. We even completed a Love Language test one year to help us properly express our affection for our Santa, but when everyone lives under the same roof, knows each other so well and 4 out of the 5 have the same love language, the Santas don’t stay secret very long. My husband was also usually the last to know what the expectations were for that day, so his Secret Santa was often left in the lurch. So to create more equity last year Hermie gave everyone $12 to spend at the Dollar Store to load up on treats for their Santa that could be distributed each day. Of course as I write this we’re still waiting for the 18 year old to get his shopping done so we can start leaving the treats.
Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt
I love Christmas lights! As celebrating the Christmas season has been inching closer and closer to October I love watching the lights go up on houses earlier and earlier in the season. However, as early as they go up there aren’t many who keep them up past New Year’s and sometimes even after Christmas. So I have found that packing up the family to search for the best neighborhood lights has to happen as close to Christmas as possible. Hence Hermies tries to make this happen somewhere between the 3rd day and New Year’s Eve. And if you’re like me and love yourselves some Christmas lights on the dark winter nights, we keep our red and white lights up through February! I mean, why can’t we celebrate Valentine’s Day with lights? I also might have a winter tree themed tree decorated with hearts to also spread out the coming down of Christmas décor.
Spreading out the gifts was one of the first aspects of the 12 days Hermie incorporated. My first born is also the first grandchild on both sides of our family and with both sides of our extended family in town, he was inundated with gifts those first few years. I remember watching him blankly stare at the mountain of packages that were tossed at him one after another to open for three days straight, when all he wanted to do was eat the paper or climb in the box. I also got excited with my gift-giving and felt compelled to have a gift for him each of the 12 days in addition to a stuffed stocking on Christmas Day. But exhausted by gift-wrapping and proven to not be sustainable when the 2nd and 3rd child were born to our family, we paired the gifts down to four, perhaps you’ve seen this advice floating around the internet: Something they Want, Something they Need, Something to Wear and Something to Create or Read. To add a bit of fun, perhaps more for the parents, than the kids, these presents are hidden around the house and clues are left for them to find one set of gifts every 3–4 days.
We are blessed to live in an area surrounded by snowy mountains, so it doesn’t require a great distance for us to find some fun in the snow. We’ve been known to load up the sledding gear, pack a picnic, find a “secret sledding hill,” light a big fire and enjoy a day of sledding with the whole extended family. We’ve also tried ice skating at one of the various local rinks or a frozen body of water up in the mountains. This year we’re going to embark on a new Night skiing adventure and the forest service also offers free snowshoe tours with equipment provided.