First, I made this Twelve Days of Christmas calendar, based on the book My Wonderful Christmas Tree by Dahlov Ipcar. The idea was to read a page of the book each evening before bed and add the corresponding animal to the tree. How it actually worked out, was that Z first thing every morning Z added the animal of the day and, if we remembered, we read the corresponding passage that night before bed. I like how he really got into it.
Here's a picture on the last day (Jan 5), with the prodigal blue jay returned. (More pictures of individual animals on my flickr page).
I also bought this birthday ring (on sale!) which very conveniently has twelve candles. Each night after reading books (re-reads from the Christmas Advent basket--or as my friend Sara's boys call it, the CBC...Christmas Book Countdown), we lit candles (starting with 12 on Christmas night and removing one each night after that through Jan 5) and sang Christmas carols. Then the boys took turns putting the candles out with a candle snuffer (I was trying to avoid getting red wax on our white play silk).
Here we are on day 10, awaiting the evening candle-lighting (Z turned the snowmen upside down so they would fit more snugly in the holder).
The Three Kings (and Befana the Italian Witch)
OK, Befana may or may not have made an appearance (I think I forgot to mention her) but I just like saying that. After calling in experts (my parents) to verify on which night the trio (plus the witch) are supposed to arrive (there was a bit of confusion whether they came the eve of Jan 5 or the night of Jan 5--turns out it's the night of Jan 5, making Jan 6 the bonus 13th day of Christmas). I finally got smart last year and reserved a stocking stuffer to save for 3 kings day, to avoid rushing out and shopping at the last minute.
Here are our Crocs all lined up and waiting one night too early (not quite as picturesque as wooden shoes, are they? And no, I did not even bother to sweep in honor of the Kings.)
In the final assessment--a success! Both of the younger boys really enjoyed all three traditions and I felt a little more festive for a little longer. Though next year I think I'll try and take the week between Christmas and New Years off to extend that lazy nothing-to-do feeling a bit. M on the other hand didn't get into either the calendar or the candles and singing (or the reading of Christmas books either). He'd rather be in his room reading or listening to his new punk rock or B-52's CDs...did you know that eight is the new 15?
I considered dragging it all out another week to St. Knut's Day (that would be today) when apparently in some Scandinavian countries they have a bonfire with the Christmas tree. When I first mentioned this, E said, "You're apposed to put it back in the woods. That what real people do." But he has changed his mind and all the boys want to see out tree go up in flames...I on the other hand feel sad at the prospect and want to put it back in the woods. For now it's sitting in the snowbank outside our front door. Who knows, maybe we'll torch it this weekend.
One Last Christmas Project
I tried to push to finish this project before the official end of Christmas last week, but a few setbacks like a mishap with the rotary cutter (damn those things are sharp!) and running out of red thread (and not allowed to buy more), left it undone. I had started in early December, but had to set it aside in favor of projects destined to be gifts. So it's still sitting right where you see it--on my ironing board.
The Kid's Art Table Runner didn't really appeal to me very much when I saw it in Handmade Home, but when I saw what Mary Beth at Salt & Chocolate did with it for Thanksgiving, I just had to make one.
I used all stuff I already had (the red is leftover from backing my new Christmas tree skirt; the back--which is reversible--is the fabric I used to put around the base of our tree, which I love; the muslin squares were all leftover from something; the snowflake ribbon was wrapped around a gift we received and the polka-dot ribbon and red bias tape were in the stash). Most of the drawings are by Z, because he is the most prolific artist right now (M draws a lot too, but mostly WWII fighter planes...not so Christmassey; and E is much more tentative in his drawing efforts). I have to say, embroidering your kids' drawings is addictive; I highly recommend it, even if you have no needlework skills or experience (and picking up basic supplies--muslin, and embroidery hoop, floss and needles--is pretty inexpensive). I have done a few of M's drawings in the past as well, and I never cease to be amazed at the details and creative ways kids represent things.
This is the reverse side--isn't it cute?
I guess I'll put this (and the placemats that are supposed to go with it) away until next holiday season (or at least until I have some red thread)...hopefully I'll think the drawings are just as cute next year as I do now!