Advent. I couldn't find what I wanted at the crafts store to make an Advent wreath, so I bought two pine swag candleholders (each holds two candles) and the traditional Advent candles (three purple, one pink) to improvise. I have several Advent calendars from years past, including a Playmobil one that my mom sent for R last year. It's really cool because each day on the calendar has a little cardboard box that holds a tiny piece of a Christmas play set. (I'll take pictures tomorrow...) I filled all the boxes tonight after R went to bed. I have a huge "Christmas Treasures" leather-bound book that has all kinds of readings and carols in it - scripture, selections from all kinds of different Christmas stories (like "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens). We had the same one at my house growing up and read from it every night for Advent.
So, tonight after dinner, we lit one of the Advent candles and I read the Christmas story from the chapter of Luke while A wrestled a squirming, yelling, laughing R. Then, A and I sang "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" while R simultaneously sang "Charlie on the MTA." R did take an interest in opening the #1 window on one of my Advent calendars. Then, he blew out the candle and asked me, "Are we all done?" He actually seemed sad it was over. So, maybe tomorrow night he'll listen a little more. :-)
Excursions. During the month of December, we're going to try to do the following three activities (two of these we've already been doing for a couple of years now):
- The Zoo - The zoo near us has a special "ZooLights" event where they light up the grounds with lights, and you can have your picture taken with Santa. It's nice to walk around to see the animals and the lights, and the Santa pictures are very inexpensive (especially compared to the ones with the mall Santa!). We don't really talk about or encourage Santa belief at our house, but the pictures are cute and R seems more interested in riding the little train at the zoo than anything else anyway.
- Edaville Railroad - This is R's idea of paradise: kiddie rides, Christmas lights, fireworks, and a ride on an old-fashioned steam train. We went last year just before Christmas, and R was so full of awe and wonder that it brought tears to my eyes. So we'll definitely be doing this again, and we'll probably be going with a couple of his friends to make it even more special.
- Lasalette Shrine - We're hoping to do this this year, even though I haven't actually been in EONS. My mom and stepdad took me a very long time ago, and I remember really loving it (10 aces of Christmas lights!). I hope R will enjoy it.
That's what I've got for now, besides driving around to look at lights at night, decorating the tree and house together, opening one gift on Christmas Eve, and having a special breakfast on Christmas Day.
R is a little young this year, but next year I'm hoping to get the whole family involved in some kind of volunteer/service project. There was an opportunity to do something through my work this year, but I just can't imagine us being very helpful with R running around like a crazy boy.
We're really trying to tone down the presents this year. A and I agreed to get R only two large gifts and then some stocking stuffers. It's really hard not to go crazy and buy tons of things, but so far we're sticking to our plan. And, I don't think R will even notice. I don't want Christmas to be about a giant present-opening orgy. I'm really hoping that these activities we've planned will become traditions and that they'll be what R treasures about this time of year later in his life. My mom did this for me and my sisters when we were growing up, and it's that that makes me break down and cry every time I hear certain Christmas carols. My mom made Christmas so special. I miss you, Mom! But I've got you with me in my heart as I try to pass on these things to my little R.
Happy Saturday night!