{life and lauren mckinsey} {products} it’s the most wonderful time of the year!

CLICK HERE to download your FREE advent calendar.

driving home in the car a few nights ago i overheard a discussion that broke my heart. the discussion started like this. ” i’m not really excited about christmas this year”. that comment made me catch my breath.

you see, i’m not really excited about christmas either. i want to be. i really do, but the holidays are hard. as many of you know, dylan and parker’s dad died on october 23, 2008. that devastating accident, the one that would change our lives forever, stole so much of my joy. believe me, my head tells me not to let it, but my heart just can’t follow that logic. my heart is just sad. it is especially that way around the holidays. i have been through enough grief therapy to know better. each year i tell myself that the next will be better. and each year i feel as though i go through the motions. what i try NOT to do is let it affect my boys. i still decorate. we still put up a tree. we still laugh. we make new traditions.

i asked the boys WHY they weren’t excited about christmas. i was curious their reasons. dylan’s response was that christmas just didn’t feel the same now that we stay in florida instead of spending the holiday in tennessee. you see, a few years ago my grandmother moved from tennessee to florida, and after many many years of tennessee christmases it truly doesn’t feel the same.

parker’s response was that he missed his dad. that it just didn’t feel the same without him here. i can completely relate.

so, my creative brain started working. what could i do to make the holiday more exciting? what would be a fun tradition to start this year that we could continue for the years to come? what could i do to bring that christmas spirit back into our home and into the hearts of my boys?

i had it. i would make an advent calendar. {which required a bit of research since this wasn’t one of my childhood traditions} i would fill clear plastic take out boxes {purchased at michaels} with little treats. candy, gum, tic tacs. it would be fun. the boys would alternate days, and on the days that fall on a saturday or sunday they will find a little card inviting them on a date with me. i think that my plan will work.

yesterday morning was december 1st. the first day of our new tradition. dylan went first. inside his box he found three toffee flavored andes mints. {warning! they are addictive. you WILL eat half the box} parker can hardly wait for his turn today. {and is a bit worried he won’t get the same treats as his brother}

i had a great time creating our fun advent calendar. i purchased an inexpensive curtain rod at target and jim hung it on the wall. each tag is laminated {to preserve it for next year – or because i just love to laminate} and tied to each box.

24 boxes. 24 days of fun. 24 days of memories. 24 days of smiles. i can already feel the christmas spirit coming back!

day 1 of our advent calendar was a success.

i didn’t think that we would have these ready for you this season. but, my sweet husband, the web guru behind it all, worked fast and furious today make these available to you.

as we celebrate this holiday season we are mindful of all the families who have lost loved ones and the ones who struggle to find their joy. my heart reaches out to you, and i wish you a season filled with happiness and a new found joy!

[lauren mckinsey signature]

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17 Responses to {life and lauren mckinsey} {products} it’s the most wonderful time of the year!

  1. Anne Switzerland October 13, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

    Hi Lauren, would love to do this advent calendar for my little daughter but can’t download it anymore…is t still available….soo cute
    thanks a lot

  2. Spring November 28, 2012 at 3:29 am #

    Thank you for not only your adorable advent calendar but for sharing your story. It really touched me.

    • Lauren McKinsey December 11, 2012 at 7:40 pm #

      thank you so much! i am happy that you were able to use them!

      • Lauren McKinsey December 11, 2012 at 7:40 pm #

        you are most welcome!

  3. Julie December 6, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

    Thank you so much! You have sparked my creativity for the holidays. I hope that this calendar brings a little bit of excitement to your boys for the holidays. Your boys are lucky to have you as their mom!
    Merry Christmas!

  4. Wendy December 5, 2011 at 1:30 am #

    Thank you for sharing your story with us, as well as your beautiful printables. I’m happy to hear that your idea is bringing some new excitement for the boys. XOXO

  5. Melanie McK December 4, 2011 at 6:00 am #

    Thanks again Lauren for your generosity.

  6. Laura Major December 3, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

    LOVE these!! Thank you for the sweet pre-Christmas surprise!

  7. Linda Orfield December 3, 2011 at 11:27 am #

    I have also been missing our Tennessee Christmases…

  8. Terri Graham December 3, 2011 at 10:14 am #

    You are an absolutely amazing person! Your boys are so lucky to have you for a Mom! I wish I had words of wisdom that would help…They say time heals all wounds…I hope it will come soon for you! Thanks for sharing with us what you are going through!

  9. Tracy December 3, 2011 at 9:03 am #

    Lauren, Thanks so much for your blog post. This is is really hard for me, but for a completely different reason. My only daughter got married in September & this will be the 1st Christmas she’s not home to help decorate, make crafts, etc. I’m going to decorate today & pray that the tears don’t start flowing!!! Sending prayers for you & your boys. Thanks so much for the advent calendar. We used to have one every year when I was growing up. Such a great tradition!!!

    • Lauren McKinsey December 4, 2011 at 1:09 am #

      Tracy. Sending lots of hugs your way too!!!

  10. Janine Berryhill December 2, 2011 at 4:57 pm #


  11. Yvonne Jacobs-The Cajun Cookie Lady December 2, 2011 at 4:04 pm #

    Your story touched my heart. My first husband passed away in 1999 and I have since remarried. The holidays were very hard but with the strength and wisdom God gave me the holidays are wonderful and full of great memories. Thanks for the advent calendar idea, I too look forward to creating new and wonderful memories! Happy Holidays!

  12. Susan Klinner December 2, 2011 at 11:17 am #

    So touched by your story and so sorry for your loss. I’m so glad to read that you have found a way to bring Christmas joy to yourself and your boys through a difficult season. God bless you.

    PS – those would make adorable cookies!!!! May have to try it!

  13. Jenny December 2, 2011 at 10:52 am #

    Sending you lots of love sweet Lauren. What a thoughtful way to make new memories and bring joy to the holiday season. Your boys are so lucky to have you as their mom.

  14. Steph December 2, 2011 at 10:37 am #

    This breaks my heart, but also makes me smile. I think your idea for the advent calendar is brilliant, and I know your boys are loving the little surprises, and looking forward to their next turn. xo

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