In Christmas of 2010 my eldest son was fifteen months old. For the first time he was going to be aware that something was going on in December. Certainly he wasn’t sure what all of the fuss was about, but of a fuss, he was certain. It was that year that his Nanny in England sent over his Advent calendar.
A set of 24 boxes in the shape of a Christmas tree, to be filled with whatever you like. In her case, it was filled with miniature bars of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk. Each morning, or evening if we forgot, Toby would open his box with glee. He knew what chocolate was, even if Christmas was a mystery. It was one of many moments in my life as a new mom that made me realize how far away my own mom was.
Thus began a Pinault holiday tradition, if I had only known then what I was starting. Each day, I snapped a picture of him opening his box and posted it to our family blog for her to see. I tried to get him to open it with as many different American family members and friends as possible, to vary it up a little.
When Christmas was over, I put together a 24 page photo book detailing Toby’s first advent, and sent it to his Nanny. While we didn’t continue the tradition of sending a photo book at the end of each advent season, we do still take the pictures each day. Though this year, with a four and almost two year old, I am pretty certain it will be hard to wrangle a decent one each day.
Even if you didn’t start this on December 1st, it’s an easy way to involve the long distance relatives in the joys of Christmas with little ones. You could do it with any Advent calendar you so choose, though my mom would strongly urge giving chocolate whenever possible.
My husband and his siblings used to race downstairs each morning, to move a little mouse into the next pocket of a wall hanging. Any type of Advent marker will do here as it is the daily pictures that are key to this tradition. And sometimes the best pictures are the outtakes, easily given on a disc before New Years.
Advent 2011 in all its glory:
So thankful for the vast improvements in digital technology, and the proliferation of the internet in the last decade, that has made my festive contact with family at home so much easier.