Thursday, December 06, 2007

A Visit From St. Nicholas

In our house St. Nicholas is St. Nicholas - the good Bishop from Myra who rides a white horse. Santa Claus is Santa Claus - that jolly fellow who brings gifts wrapped in gold paper sometime during the wee hours of Christmas morning. St. Nicholas reminds us during this sometimes hectic season to keep our hearts focused on the Babe that we remember each Christmas.

On the Eve of Dec. 5th we get out two pairs of Papa's dress shoes and shine them up. Each child has a little stocking and in that stocking goes each child's letter to Santa Claus. St. Nicholas is kind enough to drop the stockings off at the North Pole on his way back to the starry Heavens. We light the candles on Mother Mary's path and hear the same story that goes so nicely with our Advent Garden. A carrot for St. Nicholas' horse and a couple of cookies are left for our saintly friend.
The next morning we find St. Nicholas and his horse have arrived in the Advent Garden! I made both these figures years ago. St. Nicholas is made from the pattern found in The Nature Corner (hint - the same pattern in different colors also makes a lovely St. Patrick). The horse is from the pattern found in Feltcraft. I have used both these books many, many times.

The stockings are gone and in their place Papa's shoes are overflowing with fruit and nuts. My children have such fun piling up on Mama's bed and cracking nuts and feasting on St. Nicholas' gifts. St. Nicholas' gift to me is that breakfast on this morning in pretty much taken care of! This year St. Nicholas left packages of dried figs. Later in the day my oldest daughter scooped out the insides and filled them with melted dark chocolate and then dipped them - they will be a nice addition to a Christmas Tea with friends on Friday. We enjoy more stories about St. Nicholas and I was happy to find a coloring page with St. Nicholas and his horse.

One year my children asked me why St. Nicholas doesn't visit all the children we know - well you do have to invite him and you have to be prepared to love Mother Mary and help her prepare for Jesus' birthday!

If you haven't invited him yet to your house - why not do so next year? The St. Nicholas Center is a wonderful place to get started for ideas.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Counting the Days!

It is the first Sunday in Advent and our tabletop Advent Garden is ready. The children have been out today so they will come home and find the table ready for them. Here is a sequesnce of pictures to show how I put the scene together.
First I cover our little corner table with burlap and secure in place with some larger stones. I also put up a dark blue wool cloth in the background. In the back under the burlap there is a small corner shelf that give a place for other visitors to stand (like St. Nichoals in a few days!).
Next I lay out a path of stars that have been cut from double sided card (gold/silver). There is one star for each day.Next I line the star path with snip of evergreen and decorate with smaller stones, shells, dried flowers. Mother Mary waits at the beginning of the path and the empty manger waits in the middle.
Lastly I use safety pins to attach three woolly angels in the dark night sky. The wings are fanned out a bit and stick nicely to the wool fabric.
Once Mother Mary steps onto a star it turns to gold and the next night the star she leaves will get a tea light candle to be lit on each subsequent night. I try to do this each evening and light the table during our family bedtime story.I have these smaller yellow stars that the children can place in the night sky for good deeds or small sacrifices. The glitter on them sticks to the wool fabric with just a little rubbing.

This is just one of our treasured Advent traditions - the idea is an adaptation of the larger Advent spiral described in All Year Round.