This season of light and dark, of decorations and sugar and late nights is wonderful and harried, and almost too much– but never quite. To prepare for the onslaught of clutter (wonderful, glittery clutter to be sure) I kind of freak out and need to tidy up. I started last week cleaning out the corner where the nature shelf has been all year. Behind it were of course mountains of dust, pine-cones, acorns, periwinkle shells, crumpled rose petals, butterfly wings… a years worth of detritus and forgotten treasures. Of course I can’t clean without rearranging, so the kids helped me move the nature shelf over a bit, redecorate it for winter, and slide the art desk aside (we found a lot more junk) and made a corner for our tree. Until then it makes a lovely spot for the rocking chair. Rob, home today with a head-cold, found the (medicated) energy to clean out the pantry and several kitchen drawers. (He gets way freakier than me about clutter). Now it seems like we may be ready to bring out all the decorations.
The advent calendar is in full swing, with each morning bringing the promise of activities–sometimes as simple as reading a holiday book, others more complex, or sometimes just chocolates or candy canes. This is our 7th holiday season with this calendar, and I love it. I love the simplicity of it, each of it’s handwritten notes that can be changed at a whim for busy days, and adjusted yearly to accommodate schedules and growing children. Favorites activities still include Holiday movie night, Duck-Duck Christmas, Bringing out the Holiday books, and the Lantern Walk.
We made these evergreen bouquets and left them on the windshields of unsuspecting Belfast-ians and delivered them to surprised friends as a way to spread holiday cheer. I was trying to convince the kids to be brave and hand one out to a stranger, but they refused. So, I offered to show them how easy it is. “Would you like a holiday bouquet?” I asked, sweetly holding my greenery out to a stranger in front of the library. “I can make one myself” she snapped, and walked past. So much for cheer. We all hoped that the last windshield we’d decorated was hers.
Duck-Duck Christmas started years ago when Wylie was 6, and his favorite stuffed animals celebrated Christmas a few weeks early. The tradition continues still, with a mini-tree, stuffy parade, cookies and singing. The kids do all of this themselves, and only need me to supply the cookies. Gladly.
Today’s activity was cookie decorating. I’ve been working on several batches of peppermint bark and other goodies, and the kids worked on sugar cookies with simple powdered sugar frosting. This year I chose not to make my kids suffer through GF cookie dough on my behalf, but went straight for the pre-made cut and cook dough from the grocery store. I always get candy canes without dye or corn syrup and I try to get dye-free cookie decorations too. This time I got coconut flakes and dried cherries, but then I couldn’t pass up the mini-MM’s at the check out line. Oh well. If I’m serving them crappy dough I may as well go junk all the way. The MM’s look really great on them. Check out that cat, below. It was made when a moon melted into the cookie beside it. Meowy Christmas!
The peppermint bark is only the good stuff.