Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Advent Crazy Lady

Have you ever begun a project, only to wish you had never started?  That was my sentiment on day 2 of an Advent craft project that I had only predicted would take an hour or so of my time.  It didn't just take me 2 days either. Three.  Three days of agonizing over what I was hoping to be a meaningful, fun, and educational experience for my family.  Three days.

Let me back up, however, and start from the beginning of this crazy adventure.

As I posted earlier, Advent is a time that I try to take full advantage.  As a family, we attempt to slow down, despite all the hurrying that happens around us.  I encourage the kids to be more thoughtful, more conscientious, more prayerful.  So when it comes to Advent traditions, I'm all for anything that helps us along our journeys.  Enter Advent tradition number one:  The creche.

As a family, we have been celebrating this tradition for the past 5 years.  When Sweet Potato was in pre-school, his teacher did this with the class.  I loved the idea so much, that we adopted it.  Each night during family prayer, the kids tell of the good works/kind words they shared during the day.  For each one mentioned, they get to place a piece of straw in the crib.  The goal is to have a full, soft bed for Jesus by Christmas.  The "wreath" is made out of my kids hand prints.  The crib is made out of an oatmeal container.

Tradition number two:  The Advent Wreath:

Our Advent Wreath has taken many different shapes over the years.  This one we received as a gift last year and I love it!  The hardest part about the Advent Wreath is finding the purple and pink candles each year.

So far, so good.  Everything is in check and I am doing well.

For a few years, I have been intrigued by the Jesse Tree.  It was never a tradition of my family while growing up, but I love all of the symbolism and tracing the ancestry of Jesus that it entails.  This is the year that we adopted another Advent tradition.

I  know a Jesse Tree probably shouldn't have Christmas lights on it, but this little tree is so sweet, twinkling in the night.

Putting up the tree was no big deal, but the ornaments; well, they were more difficult than I had imagined.  Monkey Toes printed ornaments for me, but they did not contain the scripture verses, which would have made this project a whole lot easier.  So I spent much time looking up passages, matching up pictures, cutting, pasting, hole punching, tying, then accidentally gluing a couple together, and then winding up with extra (?)  I had to implore help from my children.

Look at those angelic faces.  Aren't they just joy-filled?  (note sarcasm.  Their faces illustrate my attitude at this point in the project).

The completed ornaments

As we neared the end of this fun night, Sweet Potato asked if we were going to have an Advent Calendar this year.  Well, I hadn't given that much thought.  In keeping with my "thriftiness" of the season, instead of purchasing an Advent calendar, I decided to make my own.  Really, how hard could this be?  I found a pattern on-line and thought this would be a fun craft for me and the little ones to do while the older kids were in school.  About an hour into the project, I second guessed my decision to hand craft and Sweet Pea and Pumpkin disappeared from the scene.

At this point, you may be wondering why I would even consider doing yet another project (you may have been asking that question at the beginning of this post).  Here is my answer in a nutshell.  I love traditions.  I love catechesis.  I love passing on my faith to my children;  it is a responsibility I take very seriously.  Participating in these projects brings our family together.  Our experiences may not always portray the romanticized ones in my head, but we're making the effort and doing the best we can.  And yes, sometimes I find myself in over my head.  O.K.  Now onto the calendar.

I decided to use tag board for the calendar.  My thought was that if it turned out, we could re-use it each year.  The cover of the calendar was created out of old Christmas cards.  I laid them out as a collage.  The next step was to cut out little doors for each day of Advent.  I had no idea how hard it would be to cut through tag board and card stock.  I don't have any fancy tools, but I found a box cutter in Monkey's tool box.  Truth be told, I cursed a lot in my head during this step.

Once the doors were all cut out (it took me the better half of an afternoon and into the next one), I was going to cut out and paste symbols for each day.  Then I had this brilliant idea.  Why not match up the symbols of the Jesse Tree to be revealed behind each of the doors on the calendar?  Then all of our "activities" would be intricately connected.  Did I mention that I don't have a printer at home, and because I have the patience of a new puppy when it comes to crafting, I went ahead and free-handed each of the symbols.  A day and half later, the Advent Calendar was complete and I was thrilled that these projects were done.

Here is how our Advent reflections play out each night.  At the beginning of supper, we light the appropriate candles on our wreath.  After we eat, we gather in the living room and one of the children opens the door on the calendar and tells the symbol.  Then Sweet Potato or Honey Bunches reads the scripture passage.  Another child finds the ornament and hangs it on the tree.  We then talk about how the symbols represent the  scriptures.  We conclude with the straw in the creche and prayers.

As I look around at these "traditions" in our home, I am glad that I saw these projects through completion.  Although we are only on day 5 of Advent, my kids have already picked up on the routine.  There are a few altercations when deciding who gets to do what, but once we get passed that part, it flows pretty well.

Was all of this worth it?  Only time will tell if any of it makes a difference in the lives of my children.  My hope is that it does bring them closer to Jesus and cultivates a stronger faith within.  I do these things with the best intentions of my heart.  Hopefully that is one point my children will remember in all of this, and not just memories of "that crazy crafting lady" during holy seasons.

1 comment:

  1. I love your traditions and putting them all together nightly.

    Way to go on seeing it through! They all look lovely.

    I little trees have lights on them love it so we go with it. :)