Sunday, January 22, 2012

Advent and Christmas

One of my resolutions this year was to write--and, in particular, post on this blog--more.  Here it is January 22 and I'm only now getting Advent and Christmas pictures.  Even though it's late, I thought you might enjoy seeing them and, in any case, I like to record at least a tiny bit of our life here and there to remember what we did.

The kids were really excited this year about giving gifts to each other and to us.  They'd had this set of unpainted wooden vehicles for awhile and Margaret and Joseph painted them one afternoon for William's gift.  He loved them, of course.

I LOVE it when Joseph reads to his siblings.  He offers fairly regularly and he is a good reader but, for some reason, William has only recently allowed Joseph to read him stories.  But they all got more into it this Advent when we had a lot more books around.

One new thing we did this year was an Advent calendar, of sorts, with books.  We own about 15 Christmas books and I used our library to get enough for all the rest of the days of Advent and then wrapped them all in pink and purple paper and we opened one each day.  Honestly, I probably won't do this again.  The kids sort of liked it but I think it led to an overall feeling of their having been too many presents by the time Christmas was all over.  But we do love our Christmas books and I think I will continue to keep them tucked away in the attic until the start of Advent each year so they are extra-special.

A completely non-exhaustive glimpse at a few favorites that were already unwrapped by the time I took these pictures:  We love all of Tomie DePaola's books and the one below is one of his many lovely Christmas books.

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey was the easiest to convince Joseph to read aloud to the others.  It's a really sweet story and I think Joseph could really identify with the character of the inquisitive, precocious, talkative, seven-year-old boy.

This book was found at a used book sale over the summer and was new to us.  We like both Rumer Godden and Barbara Cooney and the book did not disappoint.  It's a LONG book for a read aloud but Margaret and I read it many, many times during the Advent and Christmas season.  We bought a copy of the book for our good friend, Holly, a fellow Barbara Cooney-lover and laughed hard when Margaret opened her gift from Holly and found the same book.  

Grandma Marga supplied a traditional Advent calendar with windows to open for each day.  I loved these when I was a kid and this was a big hit with all the kids.  We also, fortunately, have another Advent calendar (not pictured) which allowed us to let one kid do one calendar each day.  I may have to start planning for a fourth calendar for next year.

I'm not the most crafty person out there, but I do love making paper snowflakes.  The kids enjoy it as well but they aren't quite up for the harder work of cutting six-pointed flakes.

We were so happy to receive as many Christmas cards as we did this year.  Between our frequent moves and a general decline in Christmas card sending I was worried we wouldn't get any.  I am determined next year to be on top of this myself.  If you didn't get a card from us this year and you'd like to be on our list, feel free to send me your address.

Did anyone else decorate with Trader Joe's shopping bags this year?  The kids were so excited about the paper chain links and gift tags printed on the bags this year.  We cut out lots and lots of them and had more gift tags than we could possibly use.  I strung them into some garland and hung it (artistically?) on a blank wall.  It's still up, to tell you the truth.  I don't have anything else to put on that blank wall but I suppose that a garland of gift tags is beginning to look a bit odd . . .

We bring out our Nativity set progressively through Advent.  Joseph arrives first.  Then the cradle which he's "found".  They he goes to get Mary so she appears the third Sunday of Advent.  The fourth Sunday of Advent we bring out the shepherds and sheep.  Jesus is placed in the crib after Mass on Christmas Eve and the Three Kings begin their journey at the same time.  The kings move through the house each day until finally arriving at the cradle on Epiphany.

Eric and the kids brought home our biggest tree yet this year.  Our old tree stand had breathed it's last after Christmas last year so we were glad to find that we'd inherited one with the house.

This picture is a poor attempt at capturing the look of total awe on William's face with the whole bundle of lights in his hands lit up as I plugged them in.  He's a fan of Christmas.

I love this picture:  a cutie little imp, living it up as chaos swirls around him.  Margaret and Joseph pooled their money to get Gregory that little toy which we call the "Smasher Ball."  I have no idea what it's official name is but it's a Melissa and Doug toy and it is, far and away, the biggest success I've ever witnessed in the Gifts for One-Year-Olds department.  Gregory just loves this toy and still plays with it every day.

The kids got a box of dress-up hats one morning.  We stretch out gift-opening for the entire Twelve Days of Christmas though most of the days the gift is just one small thing or even one thing to share.  The lion hat is the most popular.

Another morning the kids opened a big "art box" filled mostly with things I would have gladly bought them any time of the year but I have no problem giving them those types of gifts for Christmas.  Joseph is an extremely prolific artist and has gone through about 1000 sheets of paper in the last six months.  There's some waste but mostly he just really likes to draw and work at drawing.  I ordered the kids several reams of different kinds of paper from Dick Blick and also got two over-sized clip boards so that Joseph can more easily draw when he's sitting on the floor or in the car.  A big box of paper inspired quite awhile of this sort of thing:

All, in all, we had a lovely Advent and Christmas this past year.