Winter holiday time is a little nutty for us. Not the kind of nutty that implies a full party schedule and packed shopping malls (shudder, you couldn't pay me to enter a mall this time of year. well any time, but that's a different story) and all night craft-a-thons. It's more the sort of nutty in that neither my husband or I have any strong religious traditions or family ties that bring a sense of consistency to this time of year so we seem to be covering all bases and winging it. We don't want to do nothing, because that would be too ba-humbuggy (is that a word? it is now!) We love an excuse to celebrate. Not party, but celebrate in the sense of making the everyday more sparkly and special and finding ways to spread joy and have fun and savor all that right now has to offer.
We like to count down the way advent calendars do, but since our focus is not Christmas we do a countdown for all of December right on up to the New Year. Our Tomten friend puts notes in the mailbox with an activity for the day. More often than not the activity is small and something we'd be doing anyhow, but if the old Tomten says to do it, it suddenly becomes that much more joyful. Things like listen to holiday music, read some winter books, listen to a holiday audiobook, go for a walk in the woods, drive around and see the lights, set up the winter nature table, drink hot cocoa. And then he cues us for the larger celebrations like Hanukkah (thankful for 8 nights so I have time to get my act together!) and Solstice and Christmas and such.
Zach has told me what things we have done in the past are special to him, and I make sure the Tomten knows, and so our traditions are forming. It's not the Waldorf way or the Jewish way or the Christian way or the living in a house way, but it's our way. Small and sparkly and filled with love and chocolate.