Last weekend it was the Winter Solstice down here in Aus. For the second year in a row we went in to a community celebration organised by some dedicated and hard working family of mine. What an expert bonfire-mulled-wine-lantern-making family I do have! And all I did was front up on the night to enjoy the festivities and complain about all the hoards of people.
Celebrating the Winter Solstice is only something I started doing three years ago when I made it my mission (when Birdie was barely out of the womb) to celebrate every damn celebration I could so that I could say that My Family Has Traditions. I went a little crazy, even so far as to write them all down on brainstorm chart. I am so embarrassing, I hope I didn’t write about that on this blog somewhere because it really was just a little OTT. Three years down the track I’m really happy to say that of the 75 billion traditions I decided we would suddenly celebrate out of the blue with no rhyme or reason, the Winter Solstice is one that we have stuck with. It really is such a beautiful thing to recognise the seasons around us, to pay attention and to pay some sort of homage to the earth and the coming and going of the light and the history of such things. It fits in with our desire and effort as a family to work with the seasons, to eat seasonally, to live mindfully.
If I could tell my new-mother self one thing (actually this is not the one thing I would say if I could only say one thing but for now I will just say this one thing) I would tell her to take heart – never fear – for as a little tiny family evolves, traditions do come, even without the chart.
Last year I wrote a bit about the meaning of Christmas for me and my crew. Christmas had become all kinds of nasty for me and I’m just so thrilled to have a teeny weeny family of my own now to regenerate the spirit of Christmas in me… It’s for this reason I was ever so desperate to make the biggest her first advent calendar this year (and engage in any type of Christmas event/tradition possible). We never had an advent calendar as kids so it’s not a tradition I have been a part of before, but I feel really strongly about developing our own family traditions that we take part in each week or month or year to enjoy and look back on with fond memories.
I began scouring pinterest to get some ideas… there were sooo many! I finally decided to make one with little gifts hanging from a stick, as I had collected some from our yard and around the place which have been driving Prince Charming nutty as they are continually falling over in the corner of our study. They are such beautiful sticks though, he just can’t seem to see that! Nevertheless he was thrilled that I was finally using one for a project. Little does he know that come the 25th of December this pretty little stick will be going back to my stash once it is no longer in use. Until this post arrives in his inbox of course, drat!
Anyway, I had all manner of creative ideas about the bags I would sew and numbers I would carefully stitch onto each one, then it was Friday 30th November and nothing had been started… so I scratched that and made this instead. Is that a nice stick, or what?
The ones on pinterest and the one in my head looked a lot better, but the kid has been more than thrilled and I am getting a bit of a kick out of that each day when she climbs up on a kitchen chair to help me cut down a gift. I have cheated somewhat and almost all of the gifts are Christmas decorations we already had, in the hope that being two and a half, she won’t remember them from last year. So far, success! There are about four which are actual gifts for her, things I had lying around the house like a bouncy ball, a stamp, a little purse and something else which I can’t remember. The last gift isn’t there yet but it is going to be a small card from me telling her (and next year one for each girl) how special she is and mentioning something wonderful she has achieved that year. I’ll punch a hold in it, date it and put some string through it and she can hang it on the tree. I thought that might be something nice to look back on each year when we are decorating the tree and can read through cards from previous years. We’ll see!
The wrapping paper is recycled pages torn out of our Melways (the city map book for Melbourne) which has become obsolete nowadays with iPhones and google maps and those things you get in your car which tell you where to go (I don’t have one). It seems I hardly need these things anyway as there is something in my genes which prevents me from getting lost. It’s weird. When I got my licence my friend and I went driving and thought it would be an adventure to get lost somewhere and have to find our way out. She had a great time as every bend we went around she was lost, but I couldn’t join in because I always remembered how to get out. I’m a bit like a homing pigeon.
I digress. It’s late. The advent calendar. Yippee, it’s up, we’re having fun, we’re into it, we’re all about Christmas here at our place.
Still reeling from the fact that our girl turned 2 last week. She has just recently begun to better understand the significance of family traditions and events and presents and all such exciting things which made the day incredibly special. When she went to sleep that night I was reminded of the hollow feeling I used to get when my birthday ended as a child, I just had a little too much fun celebrating. The photos above are of her first meeting with “Collette” the newest member of our family which I mentioned in my last post. She came with the name… but considering I had a cabbage patch doll who came with the name Etheldreda Eunis when I was a wee one, I figure she can deal with Collette…
Healesville Sanctuary obviously had a huge effect on her as she has been telling everyone how she saw gorillas, elephants and giraffes there. And for those who don’t know, Healesville Sanctuary houses Australian native animals so the chances of seeing gorillas, elephants or giraffes are fairly slim. Oh and she also keeps talking about the duck that was there… a duck which we saw on a poster. Guess the Aussie animals were a bit too quiet for this excitable 2 year old who insisted that the kangaroos were donkeys. Once I stared at them for a while I could kind of see her point, their faces do look a little like donkeys! Or is that a stretch? Nevertheless, we had fun!