Sunday, November 27, 2011

Long-awaited Advent calendar

I've been wanting to make an Advent calendar for years, and this was the year that I finally did it. Rather than look at all the beautiful options out there and try to create the perfect design and fabric choices for us, I decided to just get it done. I remembered that somewhere I had a red corduroy pillowcase I'd gotten once at a thrift store, and I envisioned maybe linen pockets, or maybe vintage tablecloth bits? While I was fighting my way through the heaps of mess blocking my sewing closet door, I found a linen napkin I'd pulled out for another project last Christmas (yes, it takes us that long to put things away sometimes!). Hmmm... That got the ball rolling, and I began to cut and stitch, taking sizing cues from the already-cut-into pillowcase (what did I use that for?) and from the smaller-than-originally-envisioned tags I bought. As I began to sew, I realized the pockets were going on crooked and un-symmetrically, but I just kept on, telling myself when it was all done, the overall effect would be fine.

And you know what? It is. Done and ready to use is what I really needed--not perfection. (Might be a little more perfect with some paint touch-ups behind it though, huh?)

The tags are simple, too. My goal was to make sure we scheduled in all the things that matter most to us, so that the things that matter less won't crowd them out. The activities are mostly things we'd do anyway, but ritualizing them by putting them on our calendar and treating them as special changes them from to-do-list items to family events.

Here's what we have planned:
1. Let's write Christmas cards today.
2. Today, let's decorate the house for Christmas.
3. We're going to Boston today to buy books for gifts. (We do this every year, to visit good friends and shop at a huge bookstore that sells remainders.)
4. It's the second Sunday of Advent. We'll light 2 candles and add plants to our creche.
5. St. Nicholas comes tonight. We'll set out our wooden shoes.
6. It's St. Nicholas' Day. Let's surprise our neighbors with gifts.
7. Someone is coming to visit us today! (Uncle David, but I left the card open-ended so I could re-use it in future years.)
8. Christmas cards are coming. Let's find a place to put them.
9. Let's look for Christmas decorations today. (This might be a special walk or drive, or it may just be as-we-go-about-our-business, depending how busy life gets. I wanted to cut us some slack now and then.)
10. Today we will cut our Christmas tree.
11. It's the third Sunday of Advent. We'll light three candles and add animals to our creche.
Today we'll put up our tree and string it with lights. (I liked the idea of adding the Sundays of Advent to the calendar, but after I'd written up all the cards and tried to figure out how to work everything in, I realized that some projects only really work on weekends, and there are only so many weekend days! So sometimes, I put two cards in a pocket.)
12. Let's choose our gift for Project Heifer today. (We put this in here because this year, we want to include Lucy in the decision.)
13. Let's make chocolate-chip cookies today. (Andi's family's tradition.)
14. Let's wrap our gifts today.
15. Today we'll put ornaments on our tree. (Our tree sits ornament-less for a while, because I have so many young children playing here each day, and lots of fragile or precious-to-me ornaments. We like it just fine with only lights in the meantime.)
16. Time to mail our Christmas packages.
17. Tonight is the Florence Luminary celebration. Let's go.
18. It's the fourth Sunday of Advent. We'll light four candles, and add people to our creche.
Today, we'll go to the Messiah sing.
19. Let's write some more Christmas cards today. (We'll have to do a lot more than 2 evenings to get them all done, but I figured these would be the times we'd include Lucy in the project.)
20. Let's sing carols at the piano today. (I hope we'll do this often, but just in case, can't hurt to schedule it in!)
21. Let's wrap presents today.
22. It's the Winter Solstice. Let's celebrate with a fire. (Again, trying to allow for simplicity. Maybe we'll go to some event with a bonfire. Or maybe we'll just have a little one at home.)
23. Let's make vamino bars today. (My family's tradition.)
24. It's Christmas Eve! Let's read our favorite Christmas books. (We'll have read them all a zillion times by then. And we may do something else more exciting that day. But again, we're leaving room for last-minute craziness...)
25. Merry Christmas!

I finished it a couple nights ago, and am having a hard time not hanging it up yet (and by the way, it's just weird that Advent begins in November but Advent calendars begin in December). I still remember the Advent calendar my mom made when we were girls, and I hope this one will be as special to Lucy.


Luisa said...

The calendar looks great! Love the tags you caame up with they will be wonderful traditions for Lucy.

Julie said...

Girlfriend, YOU ROCK!

Meryl said...

This is beautiful--I love the vintage-y-ness!

Unknown said...

Wow, your calendar is so beautiful! I keep meaning to make something really nice like that. I just skimmed through your schedule, but I'm going to go look at it thoroughly after I finish this comment.

Deb said...

Your calendar looks great and I want to come back to your post some time and make some similar tags for the Sprout. I love having activities that repeat every year. That element of ritual really appeals to me even though I have a hard time doing something every single day.