The first year I remember creating Advent memories for my children was almost 32 years ago... oops, I date myself. But I was pregnant with our third child, and preparing our children for the new addition to our family which was to come early in the New Year.
In the midst of that, I was given a wonderful book, now long out of print, about a woman who had created an advent time with her children - also around her pregnancy. So following her guidelines, we created a simple tradition that helped us to prepare for the Christ-Child, a tradition that helped us to think about the first Christmas, and also taught the children to think of others. And we also prepared for the birth of their little sister.
That little baby is now my beautiful adult daughter. and has just given birth to her fourth child! So as I hold this precious new grand-baby in my arms, I'm drawn to those early Advent memories, and want to share that with our grand-children as well!
Today I found an old article I wrote for a Parenting Magazine in November of 1984, called "Spending Christmas Together". I wanted to take a picture, but the quality of the old print is poor. But what a treasure to find!
On the pages of this old article are pictures of my three little ones, gathered around the Advent Calendar, which then was made of old match boxes, decorated with wrapping paper and pasted onto a bell shaped piece of poster paper. One match box for every day of December until Christmas Day. And in each box was an activity for the day, whether it was baking Christmas cookies, or bringing some goodies to someone who needed cheer.
In later years I made a fabric Advent Calendar, complete with 25 pockets, which I still have to this day. I put it away for a few years after the kids had left home, but lately I've been finding creative ways to bring it back into use.
Recently I saw a good idea on my Facebook Page which showed a felt Christmas tree, and there was an ornament for every Advent Day. I knew I didn't have time to create this project, especially with all the felt ornaments, but I was inspired to try a paper one. I was so excited about the project, I thought I would share it. It is perfect for busy moms who don't have a lot of time.
Of course, the proof of the success will be how much the grand-kids like it, but I've fun creating this little Advent project for them - smaller ones for the little ones that live far away.
You just need green paper - card-stock or construction paper to create a tree which can be glued onto a white background. I used letter card-stock size for the ones I mailed, and bought poster paper for the ones I will do locally. I found a tree template on-line and followed it loosely. It doesn't have to be perfect! And then have fun sticker-shopping!
I was looking for star stickers yesterday and remembered I had some sticker photocopy paper left from another project, so I actually made some of my own stickers which was fun, just using clip-art from the Internet. You can buy sticker paper for printers and have a great time creating your own!
I had fun finishing this one to see if it would work out... but the whole idea is to create space in each day of Advent to talk about the coming of Christmas, and it is a fun activity for little hands.
For older children, I love the idea of including them in reaching out to others, whether it is bringing gifts to the Salvation Army, or to the Mission, or helping someone in need. It is a good place to teach the love of giving, in this season of receiving, and these activities can be incorporated around an advent theme.
However you celebrate the season, may it also be a time where there is Advent Rest, and sweet times of fun with those you love.