I've been thinking a lot lately about this whole Christmas shenanigan (yes I know that it is still two months away, but I like to be organised) and about what I would like the boys growing up believing it to be all about. Although I was christened as a Methodist as a young girl, I don't follow a faith - a friend pointed out in a recent conversation that I'm an agnostic although I haven't actually ever applied a particular label to what I am. I realise that much of the traditions that we grew up and practice today are linked to Christianity, however we don't seek to reinforce or discredit any beliefs in our family - we're just doing our own thing.
Anyhow, I've been thinking about the values and customs that I would like our boys growing up with. One main point of discontent for me with Christmas is the mass consumerism and the crazy overindulgence of it all. Over the past few years I have been working towards creating gifts myself for my loved ones rather than hitting the shops and spending way too much money, money that at times I didn't really have to spend but felt obliged to. So this year, as in previous years, I am going to make as many presents as I can and involve the children in this as well. For the vast majority of gifts this involves sewing, but there will be the odd bit of baking and such mixed in as well.
Despite having perfectly good traditional Christmas decorations in the shed somewhere, I will once again be using our own homemade decorations, recycling some from last year and also getting the boys to help me make a few new things. Last year we had a couple of sticks of curly willow that served as our Christmas tree which was decorated with handmade woolen and sewn objects. This year I'm thinking of using the same sticks but with stars and angels that the children have helped to create to decorate it. I've cut up a stack of fabrics for making the angels and am waiting for a quiet moment when Gus is feeling creative to give me a hand at making something along the lines of this (see below picture). (The wire around the neck looks a bit like a noose but it was the best I could do.) I am yet to cut out the star shapes but am planning on using an old woolen blanket mixed with different cottons and felt that Gus and Felix can decorate and sew. I must point out that as an idealistic early childhood teacher, this adult-directed theme based project is exactly the opposite of what I would do in practice - but we're talking about values here so I'll just have to put aside my beliefs for now.
One of the most important values I would like the children to grow up with concerning Christmas is that of giving. Yes, it is always nice to receive a gift, but I would really love for them to appreciate and experience the joy of gifting something that you have personally made especially for that person. That little tickle of excitement in your tummy when they open their gift is just priceless. With this thought in mind, rope dolls have swung back into my favour as something that Gus in particular may like to help to make for his loved ones. They can be made with or without arms (which are especially irresistible for teething babies to munch on), and can be made in a range of different colours and family structures.
The boys have also begun working on another wee Christmas project for their cousins. One evening when they were both in the mood to explore their artistic side, I enquired if they would like to draw a few special pictures for their cousins. I then explained how I would transfer their pictures onto little drawstring bags I'm going to make, which hold gingerbread people that they get to decorate themselves. Man, Gus was churning out the artwork like his life depended on it. I don't know whether it was the promise of gingerbread somewhere on the horizon or if it was the thought of his artwork being treasured so much that it would be placed upon a bag. Either way I ended up with a range of beautiful drawings from both of them. Bless their generous souls! So with a little patience and a lot of me holding back from interfering with their creative processes, I am hoping that we'll manage to create a gift that they'll be proud of giving, whilst learning some valuable lessons along the way. Xo