We have been as busy as little elves here in the build-up to Christmas. This will be the first year that we'll be celebrating the holidays in our own home since the boys were born, and I have so many ideas for introducing our own family traditions--both old and new.
We may not be spending Christmas with Mae Mae this year, but we'll still have her delicious cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. We won't be getting dressed up to go to Aunt Matilda's big Christmas Eve dinner, but we'll have a small one of our own. I may even cook a goose! (Any one know how to cook a goose?) And we're not going to the church's Christmas Eve service (still haven't gotten around to joining a church up here yet), but we have been telling Colin "The Christmas Story" every night before bed. It's my own little rendition: a mishmash of lines from Matthew and Luke interspersed with Christmas carols and topped off with candles and a little wooden nativity set--and Colin loves it! (Although it's probably just the candles and nativity set that he likes.)
Anyway, one of the things that I've been planning, oh, for at least a year now, is our Advent calendar. I snapped it up on super-sale last December 26th, and I've been saving up for the past 12 months to fill its 25 pockets with pieces for a wooden farm set. Kevin calls it extravagant, but when you consider it will be the only toy the boys are getting this Christmas--from anyone--and just about the only toy we've bought them in the past year, it's not so bad. And I'm hoping it will be with our family for many years to come.
In fact, I'm planning on making it part of our annual Christmas traditions. Although technically just a farm set, I bought a variety of figures that can also be used to act out some of our favourite fairy tales as well as the Christmas story. So every November, I plan on taking the figures away and stuffing them in little Advent bags for Colin and Archer to open one each day leading up to Christmas. I hope it will be a fun way to tell the Christmas story and an even better way to cycle toys in and out for better play.
And those Advent bags? I made all 25 of them the first week of December when I realized that little fingers just could not help themselves where a wall full of toys is concerned. So far, drawstrings bags tied up in knots are doing the trick, although I'm sure that won't be the case come next Christmas.
(This, here, is a shepherd, or "The Hunter" from "Little Red Riding Hood," depending on how you look at it.)
(And, no, I don't recall a cat in the Christmas Story either, but where there's a barn, you know there's a barncat--and she doubles nicely for "The Bremen Musicians," too. It will be a little trickier incorporating the "Nativity troll" into the Christmas story, but I'm sure I'll think of something.)