Until a few years ago I never even knew what Advent was. I thought it was all about opening little windows on the Advent calendar and popping out a piece of chocolate. When Ishaan was in a Waldorf playgroup in Brooklyn we learned about the advent spiral, which quickly became one of our favorite of the Waldorf festivals, and that was my first experience with any Advent activity.
Then a few years later we started going to an Episcopal Church in Manhattan which followed the liturgical church calendar and celebrated all the Holy Days. That is when I really started to learn what Advent is all about and we started to celebrate it as a family. I love the idea of taking a step back from all the frenzy and busyness of this time.
Weeks ago I started a draft which I called early Advent. I had planned to get lots of Advent activities and ideas posted early. There were so many little projects I wanted to have done by now. Most of them are from The Christmas Craft Book by Thomas Berger. I love this little book. It is full of sweet and lovely ideas that go from Advent through Christmas. Every year I promise that I am going to make one of the tissue paper window transparencies that I love so much and I’ve never done one. Since those are not a specifically Advent project, we still have time and I’m still hoping to get one made this year. The walnut chain and the angel mobile are going to get missed again this year. I tell myself it’s ok, because I can do them when Kairav is a bit older and will appreciate these things more and it will be new and exciting for him.
Last year I made an Advent garland that we all loved. Andy and I folded pieces of colored paper into little envelopes. I wrote out the Christmas story on 24 small pieces of card stock and tucked one, along with a small piece of chocolate and a star cut out of gold card stock, into each envelope. The kids took turns checking the envelope each morning. Ishaan would read the verse aloud and then we would stick the card stock to the back of the envelope and the star on front. Ok, it’s 3:00 am and I’m not sure this description is making any sense. Maybe I’ll just include a photo.
Anyway, by the time Christmas Eve arrived, we had a bright garland hanging across the living room doorway with the whole christmas story written out on the back. I am hoping to do it again this year, but this year we are making the envelopes out of recycled brown paper bags. I will cut out the numbers from colored paper to brighten it up a little bit.
Earlier today when I was frantically searching for Advent ideas I came across a fun paper chain idea that I think we will try. You make a paper chain of 24 loops, each with something written on it. The suggestion was to write out a verse of the Christmas story, but since we are already doing that with the garland we won’t repeat it. I thought that instead I could come up with 24 fun Christmas activities and write one on each day. Each morning we will tear off one loop of our chain and read our special Christmas activity for the day- such as make paper snowflakes, bake cookies, get the Christmas tree…. I think that will be a fun thing for the kids and will put a focus on doing things as a family during what can just end up being such a hectic time.
I was also hoping to get a few books about Advent from the library, but since Advent starts tomorrow, they are naturally all checked out. The one I am most looking forward to is called The Angel and the Christmas Rabbit. It is a collection of 24 stories and they look so sweet. It is not due back in the library until 12/16, and by then it will be too late, so I may just break down and buy it. It is a book that we can use every year, so it will be a good investment.
Tomorrow is the first Sunday of Advent. I’ve written out the Year B Advent Readings, though we still have to make our Advent Wreath. In previous years we have used colored pillar candles, but this year we decided to go with more simple and natural beeswax tapers made by a local beekeeper that I got from our farmer’s market.
I need to stop getting worked up about all the things that I haven’t done for Advent and focus on the quiet and the waiting and not miss the point. There will be more years to get the projects done and it will be nice to add something new each year.