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When our daughter was four, I wove her an Advent calendar with 24 pockets, to be filled with a note a day. On each note was a different fun activity to happen that day.

While a magical experience for our daughter, as parents there was the reality of the daily task, often forgotten until the last minute. After we had gone to bed, one of us would inevitably say, “Did you write the note?” When “no” was the answer, there was nothing to do but get out of bed, down to our precut pieces of paper and be inventive.

Sharing the task of note writing is easier, and you don’t need a special calendar to bring magic to December. Perhaps you’ll want to do this for the whole month and not just the 24 days of Advent. Here are instructions for you to enjoy something special this year, either with a family member or a friend, young or old.

First, decide on who gets what days to write notes.

Next, choose a place where the blank notes are to be kept and one where the written notes are to be found. Find Good Places and remember where they are! My adage as I get older: Beware of Good Places, they are hard to find.

The notes you write can be big or small, a few words or a short story on what to do. You can have fun with different pens, add little drawings or just use a pencil if that’s more likely to get the note written.

At our house, on Christmas Eve morning, we expand the concept. The note in the obvious place says something like: Look under a chair in the kitchen and then on that note, under a vase and then under a book and then in the woodshed and then…until at the place to be the last, a little present is found. The number of Christmas Eve notes depends on the patience of the seeker and the ingenuity of the writer.

I have memories of writing, “Make a gingerbread house” several times during one December because we did not have the time or energy to make it on the first designated day. If you want to make a gingerbread house, kits or graham crackers are the easiest building materials, rather than cutting and baking the house pieces from scratch. Ambition is good but sometimes it prevents action.

Here are some ideas to make December a magical month. Remember; the easier and more fun the activity, the more likely it is to actually happen that day:

Put on a CD that invokes good memories while sipping hot cider.
Watch a classic Christmas movie like Rudolph or Miracle on 34th Street, wrapped up in blankets.
Make cookies.
Light candles during breakfast and dinner.
Pick branches of huckleberries and put in a vase.
Take a long walk, come back, make/drink glögg or hot spiced wine and enjoy the warming feeling in your cold body.
Read aloud a story or poem to one another.
Go out together, stand in the dark and think of how light it will be at the same time in June.
Light a fire outside on Winter Solstice evening, Dec. 21, and wish for good things in the year ahead.
Make hot chocolate, and for adults, think about fortifying it with dark rum or whiskey.
Give a hand/foot massage.
Play a board game; loser has to cook a meal.
Have breakfast for dinner.
Draw stick figures of one another.

And when December comes to an end, bundle up the written notes in that envelope again and save them for next year, maybe to use the same ideas again. Just remember that Good Places are always hard to find.

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