December 10, 2005
Countdown to Christmas
In a household with a five-year-old, counting the days down to Christmas takes on the meaning of ritual.
When I was a kid, we used the Advent calendar that my Aunt Betty gave us. It was kind of like a flannel board - a green Christmas tree appliquĂ©d onto a red background. Everyday from Dec. 1 to 25, we would pin a tiny ornament onto the tree with the big yellow star saved until Christmas day.
A few years ago, my sister Juanita made copies of this cherished holiday keepsake and gave them to my brother and me. Juanita updated it by putting little pieces of Velcro on the ornaments.
This year it hangs in Grahamâ€™s room, and when he wakes up in the morning, he begins his daily calendar countdown.
After the flannel calendar, he moves to the paper Advent calendar with a wildlife scene. Each day, he opens a little flap to reveal a tiny bird or woodland animal.
Then he goes to the traditional green and red paper chain that he made at the beginning of the month to tear off a link.
Finally, in the evening after dinner, he can eat the chocolate treat in the last calendar.
What a sweet way to count down to Christmas!
In addition to counting down to Christmas, we celebrate with two, count 'em two, Christmas trees. I'll talk more about the trees and special ornaments in my next blog entry.
The Seed Doesn't Fall Far From the Vine
During Graham's harvest party at school, he painted a jack o'lantern garden pot. A few weeks ago, he brought it home, planted with three pumpkin seeds. They have grown quickly, and he and Daddy measure them daily to chart their growth in an Excel spreadsheet.
This weekend with the temperatures in the mid-30s, I finally finished my outdoor gardening chores. I put 55 bags of leaves down on clematis vines, hellebores and hybrid tea roses.
I had been waiting for the ground to freeze, which took some time considering our warm November. There had been a few inches of snowfall so I might have missed some hellebores. I guess that will just have to be an experiment â€“ did they really need winter cover or not?
Then I loosely wrapped the two dwarf Alberta spruce in lengths of burlap. This will prevent severe winter burn from the reflection of the sun off the snow.
The garden looks a little goofy now, with the burlapped trees and black bags of leaves all over, but I know that the tender stuff is snugly tucked in for the winter.
What Iâ€™m Reading
In the middle of: â€śWhat do You Do All Day?â€? by Amy Scheibe, a childhood friend. Itâ€™s a funny and frank story of a stay home mom in Manhattan. Run out and buy a copy now! (Okay, so that was a shameless plug!)
Listening to: â€śThe Blue Lastâ€? by Martha Grimes. Itâ€™s been a while since Iâ€™ve either read or listened to one of the Richard Jury detective novels. Itâ€™s good to be back.
Grahamâ€™s current favorite: â€śHenry Hugginsâ€? by Beverly Cleary. A classic tale of an All-American boy and his dog.
Remaining Garden Chores
Clean out my gardening tote. Itâ€™s filled with old plant tags, clods of dirt and other detritus.
Pack the canna, four oâ€™clock and sweet potato tubers in sawdust for the winter and store them someplace in the house that wonâ€™t be too hot or too cold.
When told that his cousin Eliseâ€™s picture was in my college alumni magazine, Graham asked, â€śWhy? Is she famous or something?â€?
â€śWhat do you call people who live in Antarctica? Snowmen! I made that joke up by myself.â€?
Daddy, â€śI was the fastest kid at dodgeball.â€? Graham, â€śBut remember, Dad, that was when you were young!â€?
When Graham noticed that our Christmas stockings were hung along the stair railing, he said, "But thatâ€™s not how stockings look in the cartoons.â€?
On our dog history, â€śSister Olivia was Sister Glynisâ€™ mommy so Sister Glynis is Pontâ€™s mommy. And he thinks Iâ€™m his daddy.â€?
I love your story about the Advent calendars. When my sisters and I were young, my Grandma used to give us a calendar. Every morning we would fight over whose turn it was to pull back the flap. I have carried on the Advent calendar tradition, and mail my California and Connecticut niece/nephews an Advent calendar every year. They love it and so do I.
Posted by: Lynn Balfour at December 11, 2005 11:26 AM
I sent calendars to my nephew and nieces when they were small and then stopped for some reason when they got older. But this year I sent ones again to my nephew who is spending his first Christmas away from home at a naval base in Hawaii and to my eldest niece in her first year at college. I wanted them to feel connected to family and tradition this year when they are experiencing so much change in their lives.
Posted by: Jackie at December 12, 2005 11:17 AM