I was contemplating recently how much fun children add to the Christmas preparation and celebration. My kids are old enough now to really enjoy the different fun things and decorations and we are making our own traditions that they will always remember. One of my goals is that we do more preparation during advent, and celebration during the 12 days of Christmas-- not a very popular idea around here. It's hard to keep the celebration going if we feel all "partied out" by St. Stephen's day, and the rest of the world is moving on. I try to plan some fun thing each day during the 12 days, even if it's just a small treat, with bigger things like visits with friends or fun outings scattered throughout. An additional hurdle with this idea is that we always seem to spend the week after Christmas being sick-- I think it's the combination of pastor's-family-stress and not enough sleep and waaaay too much sugar. Sigh... I can't win 'em all.
We have enjoyed the Jesse tree pictures. We've talked about the people and the kids like to color. I wanted to do the coloring, too, but didn't seem to get to it every day. It kept the kids happy for a while each day, though. After a while, my boys became very concerned that their pictures were colored just like the pictures they saw on this blog and would run back and forth to check the colors that Sarah used. I did not get a tree made for the figures... the kids put them into little books instead. Maybe next year...
Now for a tragic comedy about Advent wreaths.
The day after Thanksgiving, with my Thanksgiving decoration still on the table, I made two Advent wreaths. Why? Because the one I had from last year was ugly (a plenty good reason) and the other because the church wreath caught fire last year when the first candle got too short during the Christmas Eve program.
So I made two, one went to church and one went on my dining table.
I also ordered 12 (yes, really, 12) sets of Advent candles because they were $4 per set that way and they are impossible to find in stores. Sad, isn't it?
Turns out, these cheap candles burn up waaaay too fast and we were replacing the church candles in order to get through all the services without another fire.
Fast forward to Christmas Eve, after we got home from the program at church, my husband lit all the candles around the house, including the Advent wreath. While opening some presents (because we don't have time to do it on Christmas Day), our oldest son stood up and yelled (you know where this is going, right?) "Look! Fire!" and sure enough, there were 12-inch flames engulfing part of my pretty new wreath.
My husband picked up the wreath by the burlap I had it on and threw it all out the door. He got a face-full of plastic smoke which gave him laryngitis which made it a little hard for him to preach the next morning.
Good thing we don't have real candles on the tree or we would be homeless, no doubt.
The one Christmas decoration I made this year was a little tree using a foam cone and some green burlap, gold ribbon, butcher's twine and a folded gold paper star. It was so fun that I found myself wishing I had a more foam cones to make a little group of burlap trees. Maybe next year...
I set it on the piano near my treasured little wood carving of the Holy Family.
I'm not much of a collector of anything, but I do find myself gravitating toward little nativity scenes and Holy Family figures that I put around.
And on the theme of favorite decorations, I snapped a photo of a Brandenburg lace ornament that was a gift from a sweet elderly woman who taught painting classes that I attended years ago. She was an amazing teacher and lived a very artistic, creative life and I think of her every time I hang up this angel.
I tend to always spend the morning of Christmas Eve baking. I failed to take photos of the finished breads, but these are what I had rising that day-- a number of wreaths filled with fruit and nuts and chocolate and a cinnamon twist Christmas tree that is always greeted with excited lip-smacking at the gathering we go to in Indiana for Christmas Day. Down in the left corner you can see one of the "present rolls" that the kids made because they like to play with dough, too.
This is my little Levi's first Christmas. He was just the right age to be fascinated with the sparkly lights and pretty paper.
Oh, and one more thing. I have an acquaintance who is an artist with a camera (find her blog here: http://lunadulceblog.com/), and this year she did a special photo shoot in which she rented a historic building and booked little 15 minutes sessions for families to get creative Christmas card photos. It was so much fun and the photos turned out so great. It was the first time we have had professional family photos taken. I AM working on getting cards sent out this year (starting to look more like Epiphany cards than Christmas cards, but they're happening!) with a photo or two, but for now here is one of my favorites.