Thursday, December 07, 2006

Winter Wonderland

Rose asked for a cheerier post about the joys of having two small children, and today looks like the day.

It snowed! (OK, that may not help you down south, but it will get me started.)

Having little kids means there's someone to dance around shrieking "No! No! No!" and meaning something good by it today. It means spending more time putting on and off jackets and mittens and boots than actually being in the snow, but having it all be worthwhile for the look of astonishment on their faces when they see what's happened to the world.

It's coming back inside to make snow pictures with cotton balls on blue paper, and amazingly enough, not getting glue everywhere. This was an idea from the toddler art book I checked out a few months ago, and it even worked for D2, which is quite an accomplishment.

Also, having small children means I get to revive all the preschool-oriented Christmas traditions that rather lapsed from my family after we all outgrew being preschoolers, but which still have a hallowed place in my memory. Chief among them is the flannel advent calendar where each new day turns over a new character from the Nativity. Even in years when I have been far away from this calendar, I have measured the month of December by it and none other. (It's time to panic when you hit the bottom row of wise men and camels on December 19.)

Another one is our Advent devotional box. When I was small, we had a large box to open December 1, and inside were 24 packages, each with some small item and a devotion to accompany them. For small children, I like this idea better even than Jesse Trees and other popular Advent activities--something tangible, a new box to open, is very exciting to them. I decided to design my own, though, because I didn't see anything out there for free that was quite what I wanted.

So I wrote up a sequence of very short Scripture readings and devotionals that would take us briefly through the key stories of the Old Testament that pave the way for Christ and also forshadow his coming (Creation, fall, flood, Abraham, etc.), then through the significant prophecies about Christ, and finally through the Christmas story itself. For each one I'm trying to come up with some appropriate symbol in a box for them to open. This has involved saving boxes all year, and I never did get them wrapped. Maybe next year.

For instance, Tuesday we read about God's promise to bless the world through Abraham, and the symbol was a tent (contrived during nap time out of sticks and fabric scraps) to represent how Abraham followed God through faith. Yesterday we did Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac and talked about how Jesus would come as the substitute for us; they opened a small altar (made of rocks and salt dough).

Actually I got tired of trying to come up with more things and made a whole bunch of symbols out of salt dough yesterday. Now I should try to find some paint so they are more recognizeable.
It probably still is mostly over their head just yet, but they are enjoying it very much and will understand more next year. And next year, the packages will be all ready and I can actually think about their real Christmas presents.

6 comments:

Uncle Steve said...

Gifts for you kids - that's nice. It's not like you're giving them snakes or anything . . .

Meredith said...

Neat!
Could you tell me more about the flannel Advent calendar? Once you have the principal figures tucked inside, do you fill in with random animals until you get to December?
Also, is there a space at the top of the calendar to arrange the figures, or does the whole thing look like a manger?

the Joneses said...

Your advent-gift-devotional is a wonderful idea! We got a set of "Resurrection Eggs" two years ago. We had to get a new set last year because the kids, charmed by the little symbols, lost most of them. And they know the Easter story in and out. I'm sure your little ones are absorbing more than you think.

I'd never sit down and make symbolic little gifts. Maybe I'll have a child who will want to do that later in life. :)

-- SJ

Queen of Carrots said...

Meredith~It's actually not a tuck-in one, they're flat panels that you flip over, held on with hooks and eyes. Baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph are at the center on Christmas day and the two days before. The others are arranged around in flexible rows, and I started to write out a long explanation, but then it occured to me that this is one of those places where a picture would be worth a thousand words. So I'll try to find batteries for the camera and take a picture after the kids get up.

SJ~Ah yes, next I'm going to have to start working on Easter. Maybe I'll get it done before the season starts this time.

Meredith said...

Thanks.
I Googled "flannel advent calendar nativity" and found a few more ideas to copy, along with a list of suggested pieces.

Rose said...

Ah, that's much more cheerful. Thanks for the words of comfort! =)