Here is our homemade advent calendar. 24 little brown packages filled with a mixture of craft things, tree decorations, and a few sweets.
This is the first year that we are doing an advent with Bailey, who is a few months shy of four years old. I really wanted to do something this year that would help mark the run up to christmas, and teach her more about what this time of year means to us.
We are not religious, but I would consider myself spiritual, and we want to raise Bailey with an awareness and a sense of connection to the world around her. Traditionally Christmas is a Christian festival, but to me, it’s a chance to spend time with loved ones, give gifts, and rejoice in the season and all the wonderful things that Winter brings with it.
One of my favourite things is the ritual of gift giving; thinking of someone else and what they might like, and the extra care that can be put into wrapping a present and adorning it with some thoughtful touches. One considered and special gift (and I don’t mean expensive) can mean so much.
It’s hard to teach a four year old about that side of giving a gift though, as often they just want to rip into the present and play with what ever is inside. When it was my husbands birthday at the weekend, Bailey of course wanted to ‘help’ open everything. She found it very difficult to grasp the idea that what was inside the gift, wasn’t meant to please her, and even uttered once “that’s a bit boring daddy” – to something that my husband was very thrilled with.
We are day 4 into the advent calendar now, and being honest, one day there were a few tears. She was not happy with what was inside the little brown package, and was very vocal about it. I thought it would be a sweet idea to wrap up some tree decorations, as one of my favourite things to do at this time of year is decorate the Christmas tree. We can then put them aside to hang on our tree later. This was clearly not what she was hoping would be inside. She had in her mind, that she wanted a little car, and that’s not what it was.
If I had wrapped up 24 sweets she would have been smiling every day, but like most parents I am mindful of how much sugar she has, and that doesn’t really tell her anything about this time of year, apart from – Christmas equals more chocolate – yum!
Since then, we have had several conversations about how special it is to be given a gift, and what it is to be grateful, and how to receive a gift with an open heart. I have also made a mental note not to do the advent calendar just before dinner, when she is hungry and ‘end-of-the-day’ tired – that was asking for trouble really.
If any of you have had similar experiences with little ones and presents (giving and receiving), I would love to know how you handle it.