Saturday, December 3, 2011

A New Kind of Advent This Year

Well, as things tend to go around here sometimes, we'll be starting our advent calendar on December 3rd.  And not only did I want to start using it with the kids on December 1st, I really wanted to share it before then.  Sigh.  Ah well, c'est la vie. 

Way back in November, I started looking in my usual places for inspiration for this year's calendar.  I love this adorable mini-stocking advent calendar - since I don't yet know how to knit (gasp!) I would need to adapt it by wet-felting the stockings.  Or, should I say, finish the ones I started last year?!  Great - I have a head start on the project!

The Crafty Crow has so many great calendar ideas.  Even some that you could make and start using today.  There is one little problem with her site - I can get overwhelmed with all the great ideas!

I really enjoyed what maya*made had to say about advent calendars - she uses hers as a "map of December," a way to plan the much-loved yearly traditions.  That's how I've used mine in past years, too. 

Usually, having this map helps me.  This year, though, I felt like it would be an exercise in frustration rather than joy.  The calendar might say, "Make holiday wrapping paper," but the day might say, "Are you kidding?  You're going to spread paper across the room and give people trays of paint?!"  So this year, I'm giving myself the gift of ease.  (Oh!  It's just what I wanted!  How did you know?!)  And Sela got her way and got the chocolate advent calendar at Trader Joe's.  (Not that she doesn't like the handmade version; she wanted both.)

But still, I felt a little sad about not having our family advent calendar to look forward to every day.  The other night, late into the night, while helping little Linus get to sleep, I had an idea that would solve my advent calendar dilema while at the same time help us to think about Gratitude.

I try to come up with an activity from time to time to help my family think about gratitude.  We usually do something mindfully in November, although I try to keep it on our agenda all year long.  This November, I took some time for myself to think about gratitude, but as a family, it just didn't "go" - and I never want "gratitude" to be forced. Well, gratitude can not be forced.  Gratitude is only gratitude when it's experienced authenticly.
So, with a head full of beautiful, fun, and inspiring images, a dark, quiet room, and a sweet wee one on my lap, this little idea sprang up, using Mama Scout's advent with envelopes as a starting point.

 What if instead of opening our advent envelope each day to find something to be done, we open it to remember the things we have, love, and are grateful for?  It's easy to get swept up in the busy-ness of the season (not to mention the (gimmies).  Wouldn't it be nice to talk together each day about all that we have?

So, here's what we (finally) finished up:

Approximately 24 tags for the three biggest family members, with something we are each grateful for written on each (secret, of course).  Maybe you can think of more, maybe less - again, authenticity matters. 
These are two that Linus came up with.

Putting one from each person in each of the (now less than) 24 numbered envelopes 
& hanging our garland around a door frame

After reading them each day, we'll hang our tags on our Valentine's/Easter/Halloween/Christmas tree. 
Can't you just see this tree exploding with color, covered in the things that bring us joy?

I'm pretty excited to see how this experiment will go!

1 comment:

  1. More ease during Advent is always a great thing! I'm not planning to fill our advent stockings this year, just hang them day by day--that works for our big kids (one of whom also has a chocolate advent calendar he looks forward to!), and it works for me. :)

    Thank you for linking to my two stocking posts, as well as the other interesting advent calendar ideas.


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