Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas lanterns and Santa sacks - days 7 and 8

Oops, missed yesterday - too much going on! Yesterday we were going to make Christmas lanterns like these ones but there was too much basketball and playdough happening. Another day. But our willow branches are starting to look lovely with the Advent stars hanging on them.

Today we pulled out the Santa sacks, one for each of us. I bought the plain bags a few years ago from Andrea at Flora and Ceres and embroidered our initials.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Setting up the nativity - day 6

Today we read Martin Waddell's "Room for a little one", one of my favourite Christmas stories. The story and the illustrations are gentle, and my kids enjoy hearing the traditional story of the nativity told from the animals' viewpoint. We are always repeating the title, "There's always room for a little one here!" as someone tries to squeeze in on the couch or find a spare knee!

The Christmas star in the Advent calendar for today suggested we should set up our nativity. When my Grandad died about eight years ago, Mum gave me his old nativity set. We set it up for a few years but each year another piece would literally crumble in our hands. So a couple of years ago we bought a beautiful wooden set from Honeybee Toys. We use the kids' farmhouse as the stable, and today they pulled out the fairy/farm playmat I made for them a couple of years ago. (Not really sure how many fairy flower rings there were in Bethlehem!) Tom found our farmhouse animals and aded them to the stable too, even the wonky sheep.

When we chose our wooden nativity set, I wanted one that the kids could play with, one that wasn't precious or just for looking at on a high shelf. Annalise made up her own nativity story - Mary, Joseph and Jesus were lost by our windowsill - but, wait, wait for it - their guardian angel came flying, flying, flying all over the family room until she found them and showed them the way to the stable.

I hope Grandad would approve of this modern version ...

Monday, December 5, 2011

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas carols - day 4

Twenty minutes last night searching for the Christmas CD. One minute to put it in the CD player. Thirty seconds for the kids to open the fourth window in the Advent calendar this morning. One second for me to press play. Voila - our Christmas carols!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas wreath - day 3

Our Christmas wreath is very simple - a green one with a big red bow and a stem of red berries wrapped around it. We had good intentions to hang it on the door today, but a family birthday kept us busy. So here leans our wreath, on the hall table, about three feet away from the front door. Maybe tomorrow ...

Friday, December 2, 2011

Lighting the Christmas candle - day 2

Annalise opened the Advent calendar window this morning - and there was an invitation to light the Christmas candle. We did light it for breakfast this morning but we will light it for dinner every night and perhaps for bedtime stories. The scent is divine!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Advent calendar - day 1

Last year we did something a little different with our Advent calendar. Instead of filling it with the usual lollies, chocolates and small treats, I placed a cardboard Christmas shape with a string for hanging and a message. The message gave the kids an idea for doing something Christmasy.

This year, we're going to do the same, and I'm going to blog about it each day. (Is that a little ambitious - a blog post every day in December? A December which already seems to be filled to the brim with family birthdays and end-of-year gatherings?) Wish me luck!

I have already cut out star shapes using a Christmas biscuit cutter, and hole-punched them with a string for hanging. My three kids will take it in turns to open a box in the Advent Calendar each day (thank goodness 24 is divisible by 3!) and can then hang the star on our willow branches in a vase. I have written all the Christmas ideas on the stars, with a few blanks for flexibility. Some of the ideas are very simple, so we can do them in five minutes before school. Other ideas are for more leisurely weekend crafting.

I am hoping this will spread out the Christmas cooking, decorating, eating, crafting and giving, and build up - in a gentle way - the Christmas excitement.

This was all inspired by Madeleine L'Engle's "The twenty-four days before Christmas". I loved her book "A wrinkle in time" and have recently read her wonderful series for young teenagers about the Austin family. This Christmas book is about the Austin family but can be read as a story alone and is suitable for younger readers. Vicky, the main character who tells the story, is seven. I'm planning on reading the first chapter to my bunch tonight - although it might turn out to be a book just for Tom (nearly eight).

I'd love to hear what you are doing for Advent!