The Advent stockings are up! Coming from the Queen of Procrastination, this is a monumental feat for me each year. I stenciled the numbers on years ago with metallic paint, and hung it with scrap ribbon from another project.
We've tried hard, as many families have,to avoid the commercialism and boil down the meaning of the holidays to our kids in simple traditions. Inside each wee stocking is usually a tiny treat(just one and not everyday),a funny note to make the kidlets laugh, and some puzzle pieces. They put a few puzzle pieces together each day, until they see the full pic on Christmas Eve. I love the puzzle idea, because it adds to the anticipation of the season, and frankly, it's cheap.
New this year is our Advent ring. I've been wanting to give the Advent/Solstice candle thing a try for awhile, but wasn't sure if both kidlets were old enough to grasp any of it. This year however, my aunt (and possible only reader of my blog, thanks Vickie!)gave me a beautiful celtic Advent candle holder she'd held onto for awhile. Although I can't claim to have purchased candles that live up to the beauty of the holder, we think it's nice lit on a cold night with our little votives.
Sometimes the combination of Solstice and Advent can get quite murky and confusing for kids, but I found a beautiful tradition by one of my favorite Australian blogs, Pea Soup, found here. Her tradition reflects both appreciation for Advent and the earth/sun/light. She uses a Waldorf/Steiner approach. [DISCLAIMER HERE: Most of the time Waldorf creates anxiety in me about my inability to produce gentle, creative children who romp in the forest 24 hours a day, and create beautiful fairy tales of their own on homemade parchment, and then act them out with organic sock puppets.] BUT, since I personally find a hard time feeling gratitude for God's green earth in the middle of winter when nuthin's green, I thought splitting the candles into four thanks (one each for minerals/rocks, plants, animals, and people) is a nice show of appreciation to the earth at all moments and all manner. She also slowly adds pieces of the manger to the table each Sunday, and let's the kids choose toy animals for the manger (which resulted in a giraffe one year for their family, and in our household may very well include Batman).
Here is our first week of Advent, which I forgot until Sunday was already past, so they were lit for the first time on Monday, good enough. I will keep adding pics of how our Advent ring/candles progress and notes on what the kidlets gain from the experience (or if they sat through the whole thing just wondering if they missed SpongeBob's Christmas special).
Hope all are enjoying their own family traditions and keeping in mind the definition of Advent, the "arrival that has been awaited," whether that means baby Jesus or a slow arrival of more light, or both. If you use any of these ideas from me or Pea Soup I'd love to hear about them, leave me a comment.