Dear Boy is still talking about Christmas. We made a mad dash north to surprise part of the family the week before, starting a long run of family visits and outings and long lunches and presents, of course the presents. He got to see some of his favourite people, especially those we really only get to see in photos or speak to on the phone. It was family, full-on, which is always my favourite kind of Christmas.
We started December with tree-decorating on December 1st, putting up our mini, fibre-optic tree on December first before picking up a live one two weeks later and shifting the little-un to Dear Boy’s room. We’d turn it on before bed and watching the shifting swirling colours at the tip of the branches play off on the roof and walls. There was magic in it all.
In terms of themed play, we crafted, we read, we sang, we ate and we started and introduced him to some family traditions now he’s old enough to understand them.
I wasn’t particularly keen to have a bunch of Christmas themed toys, useful only for a part of the year, so I hauled out the collection of penguins and our plastic ‘elusive’ moose (who very cleverly doubled as a reindeer). He also got to have full claim to all the leftover decorations, strands of beads and tinsel and a million non-precious baubles.
Despite my best intentions to the contrary (I can’t help it – Christmas is my crack), I did pick up a Babushka Santa (with Mrs Claus, a reindeer, an elf and a penguin nestled inside) and a wooden Christmas train quite cheaply and these seemed to have been favourites for the month.
Living in the southern hemisphere, there’s a limit to the amount of snow and snowmen and chestnuts roasting I wanted to put out there, so it was interesting to come up with some crafts that seemed relevant to the sunshine-y days, fire-bans and lack of mistletoe we have here.
We focused on:
- Christmas trees - with me outlining trees on coloured paper and then setting him loose with stickers, craft paper, glue and glitter
- Santa - sticking cotton balls to red paper
- Stars - painted paper plates and craft paper cut into shapes
- Angels - (although that crossed the line into non-secularism) wooden clothes pegs with fabric and glue and pipe cleaner halos
- Paper chains – with sticky tape and staples joining strips of the Christmas paper that had grown tatty stored away for the past 12 months
I also got my mama-craft on and made a whole bunch of decorations. I even pulled out the sewing machine and made my first machine-sewn things since Year 7 Textiles. I made 24 drawstring bags from pudding cloth and calico and decorated them with all the red things in the house (a bunch of ribbon, string, some beads). Into the bags when 24 sparkly dinosaur decorations.
Dude, I made gingerbread men. Delicious. I made a single batch but froze half the mixture, leaving it for a week later when we rolled out the dough and made more. I used this recipe, which froze really well. I also made batched of sweet and spicy nuts for presents. This recipe is the bomb (don't worry about the amount of spice in this - it loses a lot of the heat after they've been baked).
Dear Boy helped (read: filched all the tasty bits and licked the beaters).
Our beautiful local library has the Christmas books separated out all year round – it took a little while to find the ones that were secular rather than religious based. Dear Boy’s favourite was an old version of the ‘Twas the night before Christmas’ poem and ‘The Twelve Dogs of Christmas’, which features 11 puppies pooing (perfect for an almost three-year old). My favourites? 'Santa’s Secret' and Sandra Boynton’s ‘Christmas Parade’.
We mostly had rousing choruses of 'Jingle Bells' and 'We Wish You A Merry Christmas' - and by chorus I do mean just the chorus. I really need to learn the verses for next year. There are plenty of other Christmas tunes out there, especially non-religious ones or ones that are a bit more unusual. Here's some from my Christmas edition of the New Songs Project.
- Turning the lights on the tree
- Putting a new dinosaur on the tree each night;
- Cookies and milk for Santa and a carrot for the reindeer – maybe ours was the only house where Santa’s bikkies were in Tupperware (mice - blecch).
- Homemade stocking on the foot of his bed – this turned out to be creepier than I imagined “Mummy, that Santa man came into my room last night and left these things on my bed”.