One of my real favorite things about Christmas is pulling out the Navtivity set. I have the set out all year typically but I pull it out to the coffee table at christmas. Some years ago my mom took a painting class on a regular basis (it was her fun thing) and she painted all manner of boxes and knick knacks but really my favorite thing she painted was this puzzle piece nativity. It all fits together with the star on top of mary and joseph. And the best thing about it is that its fine for @ to play with. He likes to take it apart and have the "guys" do stuff and then he can put it back together. Its one of the few things I've carted around the world.
Next to that is my Advent basket calendar. Last year out of a desire to have an advent calendar but lacking time to make one, I bought this basket. I bought a styrofoam wreath for the bow, the bow= nice, styrofoam wreath=hideous. Inside it are envelopes with numbers on the outside. I prettied the envelopes a little too. But inside each envelope is the vs. for the evening, an activity, a special song, a special story about some aspect of the nativity. @ gets to find the number and open an envelope every night. We light candles and remember the advent. Its something he looks forward to throughout the month.
New to our collection is this Advent Puzzle. My mom picked it up some years ago at Ten Thousand Villages. Her hope was that there would be a grandchild that would come play with it at her house. And the year we were home for christmas, @ really enjoyed it. But she felt like we could give it more use and she sent it to us. I was surprised she would part with it- its just beautiful. We just got it in the mail yesterday and @ has loved touching the first 7 pieces. He asked at bedtime tonight if we would do another piece tomorrow.
Maybe we should do a wreath to be good traditionalists but its a tradition we're creating for our family and so it will evolve a bit over time. The candles we've been using are a fragrant cinnamon and a citronella candle not the special traditional colors. We've enjoyed having this special time every evening and slowly @ is picking up the words "Prophecy, Hope, Bethlehem, Love and Joy". Its reminding me too of the wildness of Hope, Love with abandon and the thrill of Joy. @ has taken to singing "comfort and joy, comfort and joy, comfort and joy" as a song and everytime he says Joy my heart stops and jumps all at the same time.