I have to confess that I am usually a bah-humbug, grinchy sort throughout the month of December. But this year will be different, I've vowed. I've already started making some handmade gifts to keep the crass commercialism to a minimum.
I got the kids involved making some ornaments this past weekend to get them started thinking about how they can participate actively in crafting a festive holiday.
We folded a whole stack of origami stars, which we will hang as garlands around the living room. You can see that I'm experimenting with making them into wreaths (see above).
Today we'll start reading our holiday books as a countdown to Christmas day. We'll be using the Advent book/craft activity-a-day that Bella Dia created last year and is generously sharing again at the Crafty Crow.
I think December is a perfect time to learn the different ways that cultures around the world give meaning to this time of year: the season of dormancy, of the waning and waxing of the sun's light, of the culmination of the calendar's cycle. We don't belong to a particular church, so I'll be sharing different holiday celebrations around the world with my kids. I remember one year that I delved so deeply into Hanukkah that my daughter came home from preschool and asked me why I wasn't packing her a special meal for Hanukkah like her friend's and asked, "Aren't we Jewish?"
If you're not into the spirit of the season yet, I recommend a lovely book by Tasha Tudor, Take Joy! (1966). It includes Christmas stories, poems, carols, and legends and recounts the lovely family traditions at the Tudor's New Hampshire farm. My favorite tradition in the book is the handmade cornucopias that her family made for friends. They were filled with homemade candies and these gorgeous Pennsylvania Dutch "clear toy" candies made from barley sugar. These traditional candies are still being made and can be ordered online. You might also try to make them yourself from this recipe or from this kit.