036: The Holidays: Enjoy Your Community Events

by | Nov 23, 2021

Welcome, my Tenacious Homeschool Tribe!

As you can see, I’m back in the studio.  For how long? I don’t know. So, I’m going a little bit against the theme here, I know… But I love this t-shirt! And we’re back in the Caribbean, so it has just been very appropriate, despite the fall background I was going for over here.

When I first started homeschooling, one of the things that I really thought I needed to do was keep up with the school calendar. And that is absolutely not necessary! You basically have the entire year to get 182 days of education packed in there. So, there’s a lot of flexibility since we have 366 or 365 because whether it’s a leap year or not, days in a calendar year.

So, whether I chose to homeschool during the holidays, or I chose to incorporate or not incorporate holiday traditions into our homeschool program on that specific year, one of the things that my kids have really enjoyed is when I decide to participate in a lot of the community activities that are around holidays! Especially when the kids were younger, they would really get into this. Now that they’re teenagers, sometimes they’re like, “I’m too cool for this.” 

But you know, it changes. It’s strange with teenagers because sometimes they can enjoy the drollest settings and other times, they are not impressed regardless of how fantastic the situation is.

Now recently, I’ve begun incorporating more about my heritage. I’m half French, half Native American from Mexico. I’ve started to celebrate or incorporate celebrations for the Day of the Dead, All Saints Day, which falls on November 2. Now, All Saints Day is completely different from Halloween. The Day of the Dead, ironically, you’re celebrating the lives of those you have loved and have passed. We have found here in the United States that some incredible parties are going on.  There is the Day of the Dead and the monster party in the Downtown Arts District in Orlando, Florida. That’s fabulous! 

And of course, my kids love, love, love Halloween! So, we will celebrate with costume parties and contests, go to a haunted house, and go to the plethora of Halloween parties that my kids get invited to. So, that’s always a lot of fun. 

My kids really enjoyed the pumpkin patches. Now, we did it last year. This year, we just haven’t been up to it because we’ve been so involved in community theater, and it’s been nonstop. My kids have been in performances. My other child is in volleyball, and so it’s just gotten to be too much. But most years, we decorate pumpkins, making food like pumpkin pie or pumpkin cupcakes out of the entrails. Of course, we always have our good old pumpkin carving contest. We do hayrides, and when we were in Northern Michigan, we went to the Munchy Krunchy Apple Farm and enjoyed their delicious goodies!

This year was interesting, too, because one of my daughters asked to buy her own ticket to the Halloween Bash thrown at Universal Studios. She is fourteen, and she was going with friends. We were a little nervous about this. And the day after she had convinced us to allow her to go and do these things on her own, she asked her dad if her dad would join her. She didn’t want to be seen with her dad, mind you.  But she wanted her dad in the park so that he could rescue her if something happened. So, the first time he went. He went out, and he hung out and just waited until she was done hanging out with our friends. And it was really an important experience for her; she got a little more independent. She went to all of these haunted houses with her friends, had an absolutely fabulous time, and she bought a ticket of her own for the rest of the time that Universals have the haunted houses. She had a great time! 

Our favorite, though, is Disney’s Spectacular! So, they have these spooky after-hours. I think it’s called Boo Bash. And you get to meet your favorite friends and friends; this is when you get to see the stepmothers and stepsisters out there, sometimes Ursula, it just really depends. Gaston, the bad guys, the villains are hanging out! Halloween, you get to go to the candy stations, and there’s a lot of special desserts during this time. And my kids have always enjoyed everything Disney.  For about three years, the girls decided again that they were too cool for Disney. But this year, they’re Disney crazy again. So, we got passes to Disney! We’ve really been enjoying it.

Now, to be honest with you, Florida is fabulous when it comes to Christmas! There are so many spectacular places to go to lighting ceremonies. I just absolutely love it! Love it! Especially if you go to Disney World parks!

I highly recommend the Celebration Christmas lights as well.  They also have this adorable golf cart ride, like this little train thing that they make up, and they take you around Celebration, and you get to see all the decorations in the town that Disney built. It is just gorgeous! It’s a gorgeous time of the year to be out there. And, of course, there are tons of treats for the kids.

One of the things I enjoyed the most when I was in San Diego was going to Disneyland in Anaheim. I believe I’ve talked about this before. I love the way that Disneyland decorates the haunted house with The Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s just fabulous! I’ve never found it scary. I just think it’s just an amazing place. My kids did go through a stage where they thought it was scary, but you know, it’s just little kid stuff. 

However, my absolute favorite is the community I live in in the Caribbean, where they put out a golf cart parade, and people just go all out and create these fabulous decorations from their golf cart! And then afterward, there is an endpoint in which there’s this great party. My kids have performed at the party. It is just always a wonderful experience for the kids to hang out with friends and family. Unfortunately, they didn’t do it last year because of COVID, and this year they’re doing the parade, but they’re not doing the party.

Of course, Sea World, Universal, and Legoland are not never far behind. Universal does put out a wonderful Halloween haunted house spectacular thing. My daughter, as I said, loved it. The other two are afraid, and they weren’t involved in that.

Gatorland puts out ghosts and goblins. Gaylor’s palms… Oh my gosh! I don’t know if they’re going to do it this year, but they have snow, slides, Christmas shows, and food. It’s just a wonderful experience to embrace this time of the year for any homeschoolers. 

Christmas, Florida. This is wonderful! Absolutely wonderful! Especially if you want to make it part of your curriculum. It’s called Fort Christmas Cracker Christmas. It includes a huge craft fair, pioneer demonstrations, civil war artifacts, displays, antique cars, tractors,  delicious food. Southern festival food, you know, like pulled pork sandwiches, gator tail (if you’re up for an adventure!), boiled peanuts, swamp cabbage, and a wide variety of scrumptious baked goods! And who could pass up on scrumptious? Right? There is also a blacksmith demonstration, and a lot of people will go to this specific celebration and post-marks their Christmas cards from Christmas Town in Florida. One thing to keep in mind if you decide to go to this Christmas Town celebration is you need to get there early. We’ve done it a couple of times, and the crowds are just insane! So maybe not the best choice this year with the pandemic still going on, but it is an incredible experience for the kids. 

And, of course, we love the Christmas lighting ceremonies, the partying, and the caroling that goes along with it. My traditional favorite is Balboa Park in San Diego, California. But of course, I also love Celebration, Florida’s Christmas lighting celebration. Especially their little train ride, as I was talking about before. Orlando puts on a good show. Lake Eola. I mean, there are so many wonderful tree lighting ceremonies available. One of the ones that I would love to go to but I haven’t gotten around is the one in St. Augustine. So, it’s just a lot!

And for those of you who enjoy the theater, there’s the Nutcracker ballet. There’s a Christmas carol. We have gone to the theater during the pandemic. I don’t know what it’s like in other parts of the country, but you have to wear a mask here in Orlando at Dr. Phillips Center. You have to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test to get in. So, we feel relatively safe going to see theatre performances. Not that we love wearing the mask for that long, but you know, this is the world we live in right now.

And of course, you can throw a party! Now, again, during this pandemic, you might want to throw a smaller party with people that you trust or family. Some of our favorites have been the ugly Christmas sweater party or the ugly Christmas t-shirt party if we’re in the Caribbean. And this is where somebody comes in, and everybody competes to see who had the ugliest sweater or the ugliest t-shirt, and then you get a price for having the ugliest sweater or T-shirt. 

The Scrooge party. This is where we typically decide to give away or give up is a better way of saying it on everything Christmassy, we get away from the bustle and the hustle. We get Chinese food, margaritas, and we have a great time wrapping gifts on our pool deck. It doesn’t get more Scroogy than that at our house. 

We also really enjoy doing cookie exchanges with families and friends. Again, during this pandemic, you have to be careful who you share cookies with. But keeping that in mind, it could still be done. Something we used to do in the past was we would select the house with the loveliest decorations in our community. Then we would bake fresh cookies, put them in a nice tin, put a nice bow on it, and a nice thank you card—thanking our neighbors for feasting us with their beautiful decorations. 

The white elephant party. So it’s somewhat of a game. Everybody brings a surprise gift. Nobody knows what’s in it. And the level of creativity, it’s decided by the host. Well, the way it goes is somebody chooses a gift, and then two or three people have the opportunity to either choose the next gift or steal the previous gift. So, it goes on like that for a while. It can be kind of complicated for some people, but you can find the specifics online to help guide your white elephant Christmas party. 

Now, I just gave you a plethora of choices and realized that mine are focused on California and Florida, and I threw in a little bit of Michigan because those are the areas where I have lived. But if you go online and do a little research, I bet you can find many things going on in your community. Even during this pandemic, there are outdoor events where you can wear a mask if that makes you more comfortable or not wear one, whatever your choice might be, and still enjoy the holiday season.

It is way too much to try to do all of those at once. Don’t stress out about that. Just keep in mind that choosing what’s interesting to your children, your family, and yourself is one of the benefits of homeschooling. You can pick and choose what to do and how you go about doing it. Or you can let your homeschoolers choose! Either way, your homeschooling family will have a great time!

Join our sometimes overwhelming but always rewarding homeschool journey by subscribing to our podcast blog, YouTube, Facebook, or TikTok channels! If you’re new to the show, please check out some of our older episodes. You might find some of the information they’re helpful. 

Remember, life can be overwhelming. Homeschooling does not have to be! For more links and resources, please visit our website. Till next week! Enjoy your kiddos!

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