A Long-winded Post About Some Advent Stuff

Some of you have emailed me asking about our Advent observance/Twelve Days celebrations.

As I've written on here before (years ago), I grew up observing only the 25th as Christmas, as did John, and I would've had no idea who or what Advent was if someone had mentioned it in passing.  Though I've learned a lot in the last decade, I'm still learning, and it's John's knowledge of the traditions of the church throughout history that has enriched our family's celebration of Holy Days and has helped us approach them more appropriately as Christ's people living in a culture driven by stuff.  The "stuff" is usually more blog-friendly, though, for a shallow blogger such as myself.  :)

I've talked in the past about our use of our Christmas tree as a Jesse tree, with scripture readings tracing Christ's line and ornament making during the days leading up to Christmas (just plug "Jesse tree" into the search bar if you're interested).  Each night during Advent, we worship as a family using the Roman Catholic church's The Liturgy of the Hours (but we're not Roman Catholic Christians, for those who are wondering), and we light a new candle on the Advent wreath each week.
I've never written about one of our more common rituals of "stuff"-- I don't think I have, anyway-- but we also use Advent calenders to tie up each day before the children head for bed.  You probably know the type-- one opens a paper window each night to be rewarded with a small chocolate. Once our little family grew a bit bigger, though, the expense just wasn't worth the measly chocolate, so I instituted a new tradition.  Enter the penguin tin.  

It's packed away in the attic right now, so just imagine a miniature tin bucket with a lid, decorated with a jolly Christmas penguin.  I figured that it'd be better to spend less money on a bag or two of Hershey's Hugs than to buy paper calenders, which began the nightly routine of a Chocolate Scavenger Hunt after our liturgy, which is now one of my favorite stuff traditions.

In years past, I would hide the penguin tin somewhere in the house, make up a clue-filled poem on the spot, and then the children would rush around frantically trying to be the first to find it and hand out the chocolates inside it.  Bad Idea, Lady.  Half the nights ended in tears and grumbles, with a Mama and children acting as Great Examples of How NOT to Observe Advent.  I guess that means you don't need a penguin tin full of chocolate, huh?

Anyway, a few years ago I made the rule that the girls had to take turns each night finding the penguin and handing out chocolates, which turned every night into Happy Night.  (Except for Zeke, but he's a two-year old grouch and doesn't count.)  Last year, I did one better and made an Advent mobile to hang in the kitchen.  I made little envelopes to tuck the clues inside, with wax seals to ensure that nobody could peek.  Making the envelopes reminded me that I am not a patient person, but since we re-used them again this year and I packed them away for next year, too, it was time well spent.

Last year, I carved a star out of an eraser to use as a wax seal, but this year, I just used my thumb.  (Too bad my thumb isn't shaped like a star.  That would be perfect.)

Zeke likes it a little too much and was upset five out of every six nights because it wasn't his turn to read the clue and find the chocolate, but he lived.

This Hulk also liked it a little too much.  I found him clinging here more than once.



The best part for the children is that this year and last, Grandma O. mailed them Advent calenders with chocolates inside, anyway, so they had twice as much chocolate every night.  But no one shared with Hulk.  Maybe that's why he's so furious.


Rebecca said...

Oh, the cleverness of you! I love the envelope idea.

You can make wax seals from bake-able clay (like the kind you use to make dollhouse food). It works- but apparently so do fingers!

Your 'not a robot' thing is showing me pictures of pasta, pizza to drool over. Thanks a lot for that.

heidiann(e) said...

So lovely!
(Even Hulk.)

Abigail said...

Oh, good to know! Thanks for telling me. I imagine it would be easier than carving erasers, too. Carving erasers also words, but then we have no erasers in the house...

Abigail said...

It does not WORD.

It does, however, work.

Renata said...

I appreciate this post. We grew up doing advent calendars, but never anything else ( besides the traditional Christmas day celebration). I love your ideas here. We have an advent calendar my sister made for us and I add the lollies and a Bible verse to the pockets. I've also enjoyed doing a Jesse tree study with the children over the last few years. It is a lovely way to celebrate The true meaning of Christmas.