"Mom, are we starting the Advent boxes tomorrow?"
It was November 30th. We had just returned home from a trip out east where we celebrated the life of my Nanny (grandmother) who had passed away a week earlier. It was our second trip out to the Philadelphia area in a week. We were emotionally and physically spent. We hadn't even thought about bringing Christmas up from the basement yet: the bins of ornaments, decorative items, lights, or, yes, those Advent boxes. Over the years, those 24 little boxes were always filled by December 1. This year? I didn't even know where the boxes were.
I was truly wondering if my kids would even remember our Advent box tradition with how chaotic the week had been. And, secretly, I was hoping they wouldn't.
Well, that's the thing about traditions. They stick.
"Hey, kiddos, I'm not sure we're going to do the Advent boxes this year."
No pout. No back-chat. They held back any expressions of disappointment. It was as if they understood that the emotional weight of the week had worn Mom out.
"It's, OK, Mom. Really."
I was so impressed.
I couldn't let it happen. It took me a week, but by the time they returned home from school on December 8th, the Advent boxes were sitting in the living room. Stocked. Up to Day 8. Fist-bump.
"Go ahead! Open!"
"Wait. We can open 8 days?"
"Yep. Thank you for being so understanding."
A week earlier, as I prepared to share memories of my Nanny at the funeral, I was struck by how many of them were centered around Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions. It was wonderful to share my personal snapshots with those who came to celebrate her life with us. When grown, I want my children to recall the special moments they remembered looking forward to every year. And Advent boxes are the one consistent tradition we've adopted. Filled with tiny gifts, or slips of paper announcing an activity or outing for the day, I just couldn't bear knowing that my children were holding back their disappointment because they didn't want me to feel badly for putting the tradition on hold.
But after celebrating my Nanny's life of tradition, wasn't it fitting that I should continue in her footsteps?
Our Advent boxes will be something my children can pass down to their children.
I'm glad we can give them this tradition.
Do you have any holiday traditions? Care to share?
Joline Pinto Atkins, an actress who also uses the web as her world-wide stage, can also be found writing at The Cuppa Jo, and Beaver County Times online as the Health and Wellness blogger. She is wife to one (phew - that's good to know) and mother of two amazing children, aged 13 and 9, who are both named after authors. Passionate about fitness, she is an Independent Team Beachbody Coach and sweats out any daily angst by exercising at home, longs for good books, is a redeemed coffee addict, will never get enough of the Gilmore Girls, and won't share popcorn with anyone. Even her own family. Follow Joline on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!