I’ve always loved Christmas.  But since meeting the Husband and having our family, Christmas has become even more special for me.  In contrast to the Christmases I remember growing up where things were different every year, I’ve tried to make Christmas for our family a time of tradition and consistency in our house.  More than anything, I want my kids to remember this time of year as a time of happiness, and love, and family; and I hope they get this through our Christmas rituals.

This year, we started the Christmas season off early . . . at Disney.  We may have been there over the second week of November, but Christmas was in full swing there.  We saw the taping of the Disney Christmas parade.  We went to Mickey’s Christmas Party.  And we saw a Santa Claus parade.  I even had my first Starbucks gingerbread late of the season while walking down a completely decorated Main Street with my son and my daughter watched Cinderella decorate her tree in her castle.

But in the weeks that have followed, while the kids excitement for Christmas has slowly been building, I just haven’t been able to find the excitement that I normally have for the holiday season.

That is . . .until today.

As I sat down this morning to plan out the week ahead, menu plan and otherwise get organized in the kitchen, I clued into the fact that December 1st is THIS TUESDAY!!!!  That means decorations go up, Elf on the Shelf makes his annual return (this is the one tradition I wish I could kill off . . .literally), and advent calendars come out.

Which brings me to my point.  Advent calendars.  The one tradition I remember as a kid is having a small chocolate advent calendar.  So without question, each of my kids gets one of those every year.  They also each get a lego advent calendar.  And then there’s the wooden advent calendar that I fill myself each night with a note for the following day outlining what special Christmas activity we’ll be doing that day.

So, once all the food planning and weekly organization was taken care of, I sat down to try and plan out what special things I’ll do with the kids this December.  And as I started to map out the things we will do – decorate, bake, make holiday crafts, spend time with family, and spend time as just the four of us – I found the weight of all that is going on right now start to lift, and some of the joy and wonder of this season seep in.

I can’t control what’s going to happen to me over the next few weeks (yes, the weight of waiting for my blood work results does get me down), nor can I control what’s going on in the world (while I normally love nothing more than a strong cup of coffee and the New York Times first thing on a Sunday morning, today’s paper was downright depressing).

But I can control what goes on in our house.  And for the next 27 days, our house is going to be filled with happiness.

It’s also going to be filled with a lot more sugar than normal!  While I try to make sure the kids (and the grownups) don’t have sugar during the week, they are allowed treats on the weekend.  And yesterday, we made one of my favourite weekend treats – Peppermint Chocolate Bark.

This is a really tricky recipe (hah!). . . grease a cookie sheet with coconut oil.  In 1 double boiler (or in a glass bowl set over a pan of simmering water) melt 3 bags of enjoy life chocolate chips.  In a 2nd double boiler (or glass bowl set over a pan of simmer water), melt an equivalent amount of white chocolate (for this I use Green & Blacks organic vanilla white chocolate bars – about 4 of them).

Once the chocolate chips have melted, stir in 1tsp of peppermint exact.  Then pour it into the prepared cookie sheet.  Using a knife, spread the chocolate out evenly in the pan.  Repeat the process with the white chocolate.  You can use a fork or a skewer to swirl the two chocolates together.  Or just leave it as is.  Put the cookie sheet in the fridge or the freezer until the chocolate has hardened.  Then use a knife or whatever other implement you’d like to cut it into appropriate sized pieces.

Enjoy!!!

And my best wishes for the happiest of holiday seasons!

xoxo