The weeks leading up to Christmas revolved around preparing our home for the season and crafting for others, as well as ourselves. I enjoyed working with themes for each week of Advent and look forward to building on them in the years ahead. The girls continue to talk about our week of animals– making treats for our animal friends and spending time at the animal shelter. The UPS guy especially liked hearing the package I was sending to Red and Tweedy was off to two hens in North Carolina, saying: “that’s a first” with a smile. In the years ahead, I hope to expand our giving with each week of Advent. One can’t say to a child, let’s give more than receive, let’s enjoy what we share. We have to model and live it.
Celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas (from Christmas Day to January 5th, the Eve of the Epiphany) was very much a time for us as a family–it organically expanded the weekend tradition of meeting in our bed and spending much of the morning there together. Each day as the girls woke with excitement as to where they would find Santa’s gift, they would inevitably end up in our bed, gift or no gift. Some mornings were hard, having stayed up late and facing wide-eyed young children, but looking at it now I realize what a gift those mornings were for us.
A couple days in, I realized how little the actual gift meant to them. The girls are not very stuff-oriented–unless you’re talking .99 cent nail polish from the Dollar Store because they have a ton of that and are quite proud of it. They didn’t have a wish-list. In fact, had we asked them, they likely would have drawn blanks. The mystery, buildup, the fact that this time stood apart from other times–that’s what was so joyful. Knit hats were met with as much gratitude as a new game. When the sled Stephen and I wanted to get didn’t materialize and we ended up short a day, we stuffed their stockings with candy canes. One of their most appreciated gifts in the 12 days? The candy canes!
We spent time cooking, baking, doing puzzles, crafting, hiking, dancing and lounging around. We spent a day on errands. I spent time reading and doing yoga. We went to church and lit candles thinking of my mom– two years ago on the 26th, she passed away. In these last few days, the girls have been taken with making their first snow lady and puppy with Papa.
Yesterday I started to feel the Sunday blues thinking of Stephen’s return to work , taking down the tree and decorations. I ended up spending time planning, making my calendar for the 3 upcoming months and finding the themes and activities that would define the 2nd half of the winter season. Peace truly returned as I recognized the upcoming celebrations ahead and the natural rhythm that flows from them.
Today is the Epiphany. I’ll tell the story of the three wise men and spend some time looking at a book of stars. In place of our tree we have our nativity set up and I made a little star to hang – a surprise for the girls. Martin Luther King Jr. Day (I touch on the themes of his life in a story I’ll tell about him, emphasizing love and forgiveness) is later this month and I plan on making some felted heart gifts. The girls really enjoyed felting this November–great sudsy, tactile, messy, warm experience. February will start off with a festive start as the days will begin to get longer and we can look forward to spring. At the end of February we will embark on our 2nd annual girls trip. I don’t think there is anyway around this adventure as they have basically demanded a 2nd year of “girls’ trip”. Last year my dad’s passing at the end of February led us to New Jersey for his funeral and a couple days in D.C. on the way home. The time spent in D.C. was quite memorable and eventually got dubbed “girls’ trip.” New Mexico is looking like a likely possibility!