Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Advent Activities

Secret Christmas Angels...

We have many things we love to do during advent and this morning we have begun preparing for one of our most favorite activities. The children have decorated a cracker box by removing the outer flaps, drawing lovely pictures on some white paper and gluing it to the outside of the box. To what end, you might ask! Well – they have also written their siblings names to be put into the box. Then this Thanksgiving the eleven oldest children will all draw names. (Actually, one of us will draw for our oldest daughter Aimee as she is unable to join us for Thanksgiving this year and it is only eleven names as Elsa is too young to participate yet.) Then each child will be a secret angel to the sibling whose name they draw.

A secret angel helps to foster an atmosphere of charity by doing kind things in secret for their sibling. It culminates with each child purchasing a Christmas gift for the person they were secret angel to and on Christmas day each person gets one guess as to who was their angel. The children really love it and I like is so much because it helps us to focus on others instead of ourselves during a time of the year when children are highly encouraged through commercials on the tellie, the papers, and radio to focus on what THEY want for Christmas.

My own personal Advent Wreath…

As an answer to the age old dilemma of who gets to light the new candle each Sunday of Advent one year I decided that on the first Sunday of advent each child would make their own wreath out of paper with paper candles on them. Then each Sunday, each child gets to glue the flame on their wreath. Some years they have kept wreaths in their bedrooms and others they have opted to decorate the main room of the house with them.

You need:

Paper or Styrofoam plates

Coloured paper


Glue sticks, hopefully enough to go around for each to have their own as there is a lot of gluing in this activity.

In lieu of plates one can cut wreaths out of construction paper.

If using the plates you cut a hole in the middle. I draw or get my older children to draw oodles of leaves on green paper, typically just pointed oval shapes. Then we cut and cut and cut. And then we glue and glue and glue… Usually we enjoy a plateful of cookies, the first candy canes of the season as well as some hot chocolate while we do this, accompanied of course by lots of giggles and Christmas carols in the background.

Some times we have cut out little red circles to add as holly to the wreaths to decorate them a bit.

A very simple craft that eases the potential of hurt feelings when one or another sibling is chosen to light the candle on Sunday.

Baby Jesus’ bed…

Last year we had a pretty glass jar sitting on the counter. Beside it was a box filled with bits of yarn waiting to be earned. The yarn that would eventualy fill glass jar was what we would fill baby Jesus’ crèche on Christmas Eve when we put it out for baby Jesus to rest his little head in after we had all gone to bed for the evening.

The children earned the right to put the bits of yarn in one at a time through doing good deeds, preferably in secret. Hence, no one was to question one another as to what they had done to earn a bit of yarn for baby Jesus.

But there was another side of this. If a child was disciplined by a parent for being uncharitable to another member of the family he would be asked to remove a piece of yarn from the glass jar as a reminder that ‘whatsoever you do to another, you do also to me’. Again – we were not to ask anyone why they were removing yarn from the jar as it was between them and God.

As the last week of Advent approached, it was most interesting to see how the glass jar began to fill with great energy! It was also lovely how the children tried to support each other when they saw someone have to remove a piece of yarn. Rather than chiding each other for decreasing Christ’s comfort, they seem to feel for the person who was being so explicitly reminded of how their actions hurt God. I think that this year – I will actively participate in this too.

We also have special feast days that we like to remember during Advent and I hope this week to share what we do for our favourite one ~ Saint Nicolas day.

Wreath update…. In one word… GULP!

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