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Although I’m always sad to say goodbye to warm weather come fall, there are few things I love about wading into cooler, and then just plain cold, temps: warm apple cider, an excuse to drink hot {caffeinated?} tea at all hours of the day, how the aroma of slow cooked chilli simmering fills up the crevices of our tiny row home, cozy sweaters, pulling out my scarf collection… the list goes on.

I don’t know about you, but when I think holidays, my brain goes into overdrive and starts listing: Things to do, things to bake, things to see, things to wrap, things to buy, who to buy for, who to send Christmas cards to, what charities to donate to, things to cook, things to calendar, places to be…

Um, Uncle?

So this year, I’m doing something a little different. I have no illusion that the tasks listed above will simply become unimportant. But I’m throwing out the lists (ok, not the Christmas card list or who to buy for list), in favor of one list: things I’m going to enjoy this holiday season.

1) Reading the Christmas Cards we receive. There is nothing I like better than sitting down with a glass of wine and digging through the card box. Yes, I save my favorites every year.

2) Creating a Family Advent calendar. I saw this idea over on Classic Play last year and LOVE it. Each day features another activity to do as a family.  Simple. Fabulous.

3) Trying out a new cookie recipe. I try to bake once a week. It keeps a little something sweet in the house minus the preservatives and artificial colors you can get in some packaged sweets. That said, I default to chocolate chip cookies and oatmeal cookies (A LOT). I’m looking forward to using the holidays as an excuse to try out something new. Cookies pictured are from Hostess with the Mostess. Add a cup of hot chocolate and you’ve got a dose of comfort.

4) Making a snowman wreath. I found this idea on Pinterest and think the Bug will just squeal when she sees it. I think it’s Pottery Barn-meets-not-so-crafty-mom-on-a-budget, no? Plus, we have a small home. I don’t want to overwhelm it with decorations, and love the simplicity of this!

5) Picking out the 2011 Christmas Ornament: When Pat and I got married, we started a tradition of buying one special ornament for each of us. We continued that tradition after the Bug was born, and it’s fun to revisit each of the ornaments (and why we picked them) when we decorate the tree each year. After the tree is decorated, we snuggle up and watch one of our favorite holiday movies.

6) Starting a gratitude journal. As moms, we’re constantly running. The lists — just like the ones I touted earlier — are constantly running. So often, we get caught up in “what’s next?” that we forget about “what’s now.” The holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving, is the perfect time to think about those things that are fabulous, happening right at this moment.

7) Magic. My mom gave me one piece of advice after the Bug was born that sums up our responsibilities as parents: “Your only job is to make this little girl’s childhood — magical.” There is nothing more fun, or joyful, than watching a child experience the magic of the holidays.

In the hustle and bustle of all that is silver bells, taking comfort in the little things is a great way to keep sane this holiday season. What are your holiday simple pleasures?

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