Friday, December 24, 2010

A Christmas Tree Tour

When we first moved into our little house over 14 years ago we didn't have much.  In fact, we brought the large green outdoor picnic table inside to serve as a dining room table. worked.  There wasn't a lot of money for extra things, many times even a box of ornaments seemed outside the budget, especially when I could certainly make some of my own.

I had a box scrap fabric including a a rather large collection of old fabric samples from my grandmother.  I remember as a child being fascinated by the little swatches that came in the mail - I enjoyed the feel of the different textures and picked out my favorite colors and patterns.

That first Christmas in our little house - remember sitting up in bed after our toddler, Hannah, was asleep and cutting and stitching a few ornaments each night.  I so enjoyed making them - and I was pleased that I wouldn't have to worry about them breaking or having sharp edges for little fingers.  That was when I had the idea to create a completely baby proof Christmas tree - there was not a thing on our tree that could break or would be harmful to a young child.  I have no more worries about little tiny fingers, but I still use those simple handmade ornaments every year...

Each year I would try add a new handmade ornament to the of my favorites are these woolly angels that I have also had for years - the wool sticks very easily to the needles - no hooks or hangers required.  Each year these angels are among the last touches to our tree.

Very soon, I had children who wanted to make ornaments too.  We made a bunch of these Angels last year for a Christmas Bizarre at our sister parish.  We kept a couple for our own tree.

This year we have some of the things leftover from our own attempt at a craft sale.  In total we made about $200 towards Katie's trip to Europe.   And we have some new ornaments for our tree!
Here is the tree this touches complete with new beeswax candles waiting to be lit after Mass this evening!
Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Happy Distraction

There is one warning I would give to anyone who takes up the tradition of giving a Tree to the Birds - it is so very hard to pull yourself away from marveling at these lovely winged wonders.

You wait and watch, wondering who will land next...a chickadee, a titmouse...oh my goodness the goldfinches have found the tree!

You watch the comings and goings of the birds; the hopping from branch to branch.  You see the delighted faces of your children watching too.  The next item on the to-do list can wait a few moments longer - but trust me - it is time well spent.  If you don't believe me, just ask our cats!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I am very pleased with how the little striped booties are turning out except that they will be totally too big for the intended baby!  Oh well.  I may try to downsize the pattern.  We are just about to finish The Silver Donkey.  A wonderful story,  I don't know that I would recommend it for young children, but I would for ages over nine as a read aloud, maybe over age twelve for independent reading.  But do read it aloud - big ponderings come hand in hand with this one on courage, heroism, loyalty, and faithfulness. 

Merry Christmas to Ginny at Small Things and all the participants of the yarn along!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Nativity Scene

Aidan and I went to the thrift store together so I could drop off a donation.  And there they were.  Four figures from a Nativity set.  There was a kneeling Shepherd, a Wiseman seated on a camel, another kneeling Wiseman, and what was probably the St. Joseph figure.  I knew what was coming next.

"Mama, aren't they beautiful?  But oh look how expensive they are - this one is $50."

"Hmmm, Aidan, I think that says $.50, see the cents sign?"

"Wow, that's a bargain, can I get them Mama"?

I only wish you could have heard the inflection in his voice and seen the sincere thrill in his eyes upon finding this find of all finds.  I knew they were slightly larger than our set - but the coloring was similar. 

"OK, Aidan, Do you have $2"?


They were placed on the counter, carefully wrapped and brought home.  Now of course we needed to get our own set down from the attic.

The "stable" and empty manger are set up with only the cow.

The Shepherds tend their sheep in a grassy field.

Mary, Joseph, and the donkey rest by the Advent wreath until they begin to visit each room in the house before coming to the stable on Christmas Eve.

And now we have five Wisemen.  They have started to make their way over the sands and sea from far off places.  Now of course there is the story about the "Other Wise Man", also known as the fourth Wise Man.  Aidan and I are writing the tale of the Fifth Wise man.
And the Baby?  Well he is hidden away.  Every year, before the children open Christmas presents they look for Baby Jesus hidden somewhere on the Christmas tree.  All these years I have precariously placed him on a branch.  This year I made a sun burst felt pocket that can hold him and be hung more easily on the tree. 

Now, before Papa came home that evening the children and I made a friendly bet.  Would Papa notice two extra Wisemen, especially one sitting on an extra large camel?  Or that instead of only one Shepherd, now there were three?  All of us, except Katie, were sure Papa wouldn't notice. 

When Papa came home that night Katie pointed out, "We set up the Creche today, Daddy".   He looked around and commented on how nice everything looked.

"The Shepherds are over here," encouraged Katie.

"Mmhmm, very nice" smiled Papa.  By now suppressed giggles were beginning to escape.

"Look at the Wisemen over here, Papa," hinted Katie. 

"Yes, I see," said Papa.  More and more giggles. 

"What?" asked a very puzzled Papa.

"You didn't notice that there were FIVE Wisemen???"

And a family story is that I am sure will be recounted each year!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

I am still knitting!  But I am currently without a camera - guess what's on my Christmas list?

After knitting well over a dozen of those cute little kittens, I started a pair of mittens for Aidan from a pattern in the same book.  Katie and I are also using a baby bootie pattern (also from the same book!) to make some baby booties to give away in honor of  the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe - which is coming up but not actually observed on December 12 because December 12th is the 3rd Sunday of Advent...BUT...there is a note that the feast may be celebrated the Saturday before or the Monday after...
you get the idea.  Our Lady of Guadalupe always gets me thinking about babies!   Speaking of babies...or THE Baby..I am reading an incredible book for Advent...a read very slowly because I don't want to miss a single thing kind-of-book...a will read again and again kind-of- book..
A simply amazing look at Jesus' time spent in Mary's womb.  I found a used a copy online - it is worth hunting for good price but $50???  Um no, don't spend that - if you have $50 for this book take at least half to donate to your local Crisis Pregnancy Center and find the book for $25 or less including shipping.

I also wanted to share that I took my knitting bag and a little library book I had picked up, The Christmas Tree by Julie Salamon to keep myself busy while my daughter was piping with her Pipe and Drum band last night. I have to say - I will never leave the house with any kind of Christmas story without a wad of tissues - ever again.   Do you know how hard it was for me not to start bawling in public while reading this book?  Hard.  I didn't quite bawl but let's just say the tears did gently and quietly roll down my cheek and I was slightly more snuffly than even my current cold would explain.

I hope I can beg, borrow, or steal a camera by next Wednesday!

But I will be sure to enjoy everyone else's pictures at Small Things and this weeks yarn along.