We have a lot of special Advent and Christmas traditions. Most of them, Tim and I thought about and planned, thinking about the true meaning of the season and ways we could prepare for and celebrate the birth of Jesus.
One of my children’s favorite traditions this time of year, however, did not arise from calculated forethought. Somehow, all on their own, they decided several years ago it would be fun to count wreaths. They watched out the windows of the car as I drove around during December and started noticing all the festive decorations around town. I do not know why it was the wreaths they decided to focus their efforts on but as I said, somehow a tradition was born. It is known affectionately as "The Wreath Game" around my house.
This is probably the fourth year of wreath counting, and so far, it is off to a great start. The tallies, marked on pieces of scrap paper retrieved from the floor of the minivan, are rising quickly. “I have seen 24,” one child will shout and the others will chime in with their latest numbers. I must remind them repeatedly that our wreath counting is just for fun, not a competition. Yet, they seem to be trying to top each other’s numbers constantly. We have, thankfully, had no real fights over wreath numbers though there have been a few claims that have been disputed. “You did not see seven more wreaths in the last two minutes!” So far, we have been able to handle all disputes peacefully, mostly by my reminding them again, that wreath counting is for fun and not a competition.
Anyway, this morning alone, as we drove to math class and back, the children saw upwards of 140 wreaths adorning the doors and windows of our friends and neighbors houses. We took the long way around two different neighborhoods to give them an opportunity to look for even more wreaths. It is such a silly meaningless little thing, but they all get into it and enjoy it every year. From the 13 year old to the 2 year old (who cannot really count at all) it is fun for all. I’m hoping that people will keep their wreaths up long enough that the 2 year old will start counting properly any day now and maybe by next year she’ll be ready for adding and subtracting, maybe multiplying and dividing, maybe algebraic equations ….