I love the season of Advent, or as it is known to most of the world: Christmastime. I try to keep it holy and want my kids to know what the season is really all about, but we do more than our fair share of the "fun" stuff, too. Jimmy would much rather sing "Jingle Bells" than "Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel", but he is only four so I can't complain. At least we try. He does love lighting the candles on the Advent Wreath... well, actually, we light it, but he gets to blow them out.
Growing up we always had one of these paper advent calendars so despite the fact that this was way over-priced at out Church store, I bought it so that we would make sure to read a brief bit of the Bible every day. Jimmy asked why we didn't have the chocolate kind this year.
I copied my sister this year and did a simple paper chain. Jimmy could not have loved it more. It was the first thing he thought of every morning. To help me not have to stay on a schedule, each piece of the chain has a clue for a place in the house where there is another piece of paper telling Jimmy what "fun" thing we get to do that day. I say "fun" in quotations because some of them were a little bit of a stretch. Sometimes I at least managed to make them sound fun like:"You get to pick out presents for your cousins in Wisconsin on the computer!" (he bought that). Other times it was more like this: "We are going to go take a cousins picture as a present for Baabee and Mimi and Johnny!!!" To which we looked at me with a little furrowed brow and said, "That is not a fun thing." I tried. Once he knew playing with his cousins was also included, he was okay with it. Other things included: watching Christmas movies, making cookies, and going to see Christmas lights. You get the idea.
Here is another of our advent calendars that I would pretty much just call an Advent toy since it is more likely to get played with then patiently adding a character everyday. Jimmy played with it so much at first and did numerous different arrangements that when it came to the actual days to put people in place we usually just forgot. On Christmas Eve there were still at least 7 people waiting to go into the scene.
We had fun with it all this year, but honestly, I really want to make an Advent calender that is all inclusive. For me this means you get to open a little door or something and inside is a Bible verse, an activity for the day, and perhaps a treat or small toy/ornament. I would surely have to make it myself so maybe one day I will get around to that when I have grandkids. I still have stocking re-dos and this sad little guy on my current craft to-do list:
I am not sure why I continue to hang this guy up. Maybe it is out of nostalgia since we had it growing up or maybe it is to motivate me to fix him. He is supposed to have 25 pieces of yarn each with a jingle bell and then you tie a candy cane on each. I am not a fan of the idea of giving my kids a candy cane every day of Advent, but a friend suggested that they could put them on your Christmas tree which could work if we had it for all of December, but we don't. Maybe he will just continue to be a random decoration in my house that people look at and say, "What is that?"
On a better note, a friend made this manger for us where you are supposed to add pieces of hay when your kids do a good deed so they can make it more comfortable for the baby Jesus. This teaches them that it make Jesus happy when they are good. Jimmy loved this, but I think he could have made it a little cozier in my opinion.
Here is Jimmy doing one of his Chain activities that we both really enjoyed.
I think the best part of this for him was that he truly loved this Toy Story Garbage Truck and I know he sort of wanted to keep it (he wouldn't stop playing with it inside its packaging), but he also seemed genuinely happy to give it to a "sick kid." Now he really wanted to hand it straight over to the "sick kid" but I explained that they couldn't get it until Christmas and we were going to be a little busy that day. He was okay with that. I also made him choose a few of his old toys to give away. This was WAY harder for him. Everything I suggested was, of course, a treasure that we must keep forever, but eventually we came to an agreement about a few things. The problem I have discovered is that I can't find any place that accepts used toys (in great condition, mind you) except for Goodwill and other thrift stores. I want my donations to go right into little orphan's hands, but maybe that is too much to ask for. Anyone know of any charities that take good used stuff?
And here are some of Jimmy's Christmas art projects that I take pictures of so that I don't have to feel guilty not saving them forever:
I may have helped with some of the above cutting like the stars and stuff, but this next one was all him.
I thought the tree was awesome with its pine needles.
Our favorite Advent pastime is reading our Christmas books by the fire and perhaps drinking some cocoa, too.
And having special people in town to do it with makes it all the more fun.