just yesterday morning, when we were at our weekly playdate, i talked with my friend about how we live this season of advent and christmas so far. and of how we would love to live it. yes, i’m using the words `how we would love to live it’, because i’m not quite there.
i grew up in a big family with four children in the former gdr and my parents were working for the church, so the government was not our friend and my parents were not wealthy at all. still, as far as i remember, they’ve always been generous and always had an open house. we lived in a very small appartment, but for christmas eve we mostly had people celebrating with us when me and my older sister were young, who were not family. people who had no family or not an intact one, people who’ve been into prison, people who have been lonely,…one of them still comes to my parents for christmas and now knows all the big family (my husband and our kids, my sisters and their husbands and kids) and its the biggest thing for him to come to my parents for christmas and to go to the christmas eve service with them. those memories and those facts accompany me and shape my view. to be there for the ones you love, but also for the ones who are’nt so loved or seen. when we talked this morning, we both realized that we struggle with living it. now that we both have our own families with kids, hardworking husbands who long for a quiet peaceful christmastime, but also us mothers, who feel like resting. i think there’s so many different ways though of starting small. of starting to share in this time of advent. for me and a lot of other christians the time of advent means to get prepared for the coming/arrival of jesus into this world. and as we know, jesus has been a person who was mainly there for the lonely, lost and broken people. so for me it means, sharing a light and some goodness in this time and having an open heart to people around me. this helps me to really focus on my belief of christmas. i didn’t know where to start but then i thought about a friend of mine lately, who had suffered of a big loss in her life and i invited her over to our house for christmas. we’ll see if she comes. it would make me so happy.this was a little start for me towards the direction i wanna go during this time of year and i hope i see and senses other possibilities around me. yet, i’m living in a world and time where business/fast pace and consumption is lived in its highest level. and i would lie to say i’m free of it. i’m trying to be aware of it and to reduce busy and full scheduled days on those short winterdays. i’m trying to savour the cozy moments with winter and christmas books and two girls on my lap, some beeswax candles lit and a fire in our woodenoven. on some days it workes so well and it feels so good then. on other days its hard. but i believe, its not about decorating everything in time, more creating and decorating together. its not about buying the best christmasgifts, its more about making them together with love or choosing them intentionally. its about spending time together and offering time to each other. mindfully. thats what has been on my heart these days.
we love the simple and natural way of decorating our house. last year, we got a tree and celebrated our first christmas with the girls (well, ok, the very first christmas we all spent together in warm chile/southamerica with no christmastree) in our house. i dried orangeslices and we used them as ornaments and i collected some straw stars and pottery ornaments over the years that we used as well. not to forget about the wonderful little beeswax candles. i grew up with only real candles on christmastrees. its something special. and to light the candles on the tree always has been meditating itself. i loved it. for this season we will do just the same. this year though, the special thing for the girls will be the surprise and the recognition of the ornaments hanging and shining on the tree, that they made themselfes and/or helped me made. the fresh orange-ornaments, the gingerbread ornaments and the cinnamon ornaments.
when we thought about an adventcalendar for the girls, the very first one for them, i knew i would want to have a simple and natural one, that suits our lifestyle and our passion for nature and wood. an adventcalendar with only little things in them. we collected a huge wooden branch in the little woods and hang it on the upper ceiling. on the branch i hang pinecones, dried orangeslices and little packages for the girls. first we filled the packages with little sweets, like a little chocolate bear or a jellybear, but after only three days we realized that its totally too much for them. all those sweets. they were so focused on it, that we both thought about little inexpensive gifts and so we changed the plan and also filled the packages with a dice, a wooden yoyo, a little magic walnut filled with a jewel, a little bird clay pipe,…for the advent sundays we thought about an activity that helps them to understand and lead them a bit closer to christmas. activities that form our very own family traditions. we did a craft project (you find here on the blog from two weeks ago), baked christmascookies, will go and pick a christmastree together and might do another christmas craft project.
last year we went to different neighbours here in our village and gifted them with little homemade christmas cookies. i like that idea of giving away some of our goods and sharing those, which is really hard for the girls, ’cause they could eat them all by themselfes of course. but its so much joy seeing all those thankful happy faces and for them to see that sharing gifts you with happiness.
we borrowed a lot of winter and christmas books from the library over the past 4 weeks and i think its such a great source of filling their ciriousity and spending time together with the little ones reading and looking through books and different kind of ways how christmas and also wintertime is lived and celebrated. the girls love it and we need to read certain books over and over again.
St.Nicholas Day was also new here this year. so we introduced them to our tradition, which my husband and me experienced quite similar by cleaning the winterboots the night before and by placing them outside the door, so St.Nicholaus can fill them when he comes bye. we first tried to explain them who St.Nicholaus really was. what a great helper and sharer to the poor and needy. i also got a wonderful book from our library with the story of St. Nicholaus and how he helped the poor. we read that several times. they might be still too young to understand or remember, we’ll see next year, but i’m not a fan of withholding it since my experience is that they understand way more than we think. anyways, the night before, they eagerly cleaned their winterboots (with my help of course) and placed them outside the door, so St. Nicholaus had the chance to leave something in there when he passes. that night, it was pretty tough for them to fall asleep, but by the next morning they couldn’t even remember and all they said was ‘eating our muesli mama?breakfast?’. if their papa wouldn’t have mentioned St.Nicholaus, the winterboots would still be there. their eyes got big and they unpacked an orange, a walnut, an ostheimer wooden animal, a lebkuchen(gingerbread cake) and a little chocolate bear. their joy was huge. so was the chocolate mess on the ground.
oh my. so many words. i’m sorry for such a long post today. there’s just so much to say and to share and i didn’t even mention all that i wanted, but i better stop now before you’re even more bored. so thank you for reading my friends. i hope you got a little insight and maybe some inspiration for yourself and for the rest of this christmas season.