Thursday, 1 December 2011

'Tis the season for the sense of wonder - Virtual Advent Tour 2011

 Welcome to Dec 1, and the countdown is on!

I love the season of Christmas and the New Year.  The snow, the tree, the lights, the music, they fill my heart with beauty.  What I also love is the sense of comfort that the traditions around Christmas bring.  It's funny, for I am 48 years old this year, and I find I am creating more new traditions for this time of year than I did twenty years ago.  Back then, I wanted to keep everything the same as my original family did.  Right up to opening stockings only on Christmas morning, and all presents after breakfast.  As I've grown up and away from my first family of childhood, though I am creating traditions that are for now.  I like the mix of the old and the new, I am discovering. 

Here is a tradition that I started last year:  I found this right before Christmas, a tiny wood tree with ornaments to hang in it.  This year, the kids put the ornaments on. It's so adorable.

A few years ago, a friend at work gave me these three lighted houses.  As you can see, the village is growing:

One year, the people kept turning up on top of the houses.  I asked my daughter - she was 3 or 4 at the time - if she was moving them.  She said yes, and I asked why they were on the roofs.  "Because there is a flood coming, Mommy!" she said seriously.  We love this little village, and add to it every year.  This has become a new family tradition now.

One of the things the kids like most is their advent calendar.  My mother is a quilter, and she made them each an advent calendar when they were babies.

Now, the kids rush every morning to see what is waiting for them to start that day.  That's a lovely way to start any day, isn't it?  With a little present waiting for you?  It's usually some chocolate, as the squares are small and its' difficult to find anything small enough to fit in.  My kids don't really care - it's the surprise they like.  

The new tradition for this year is a surprise: the kids don't know.  Holly-Anne and Graham will wake up tomorrow to find this waiting for them.
Yes, that's right, the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar.  I really bought it because of the Yoda Santa Claus figurine.  I love it!  I'm really excited.  I know my kids won't let me build it with them, though I will be right alongside with them each day as they open each door.  One day when they are older and beyond this, I think hope that the calendar will stay with me - I know I will love putting this together every year.  I'm so excited for tomorrow, to see their faces! 

And this is what makes me think about what I also really love about this time of year: surprises.  I used to lay awake before Christmas when I was a child, thinking about what I wanted, wondering what would be under the tree for me. If I get a present early now as an adult, I keep it wrapped and save it for Christmas Day with NO peeking!, to open and so really, I can savour that sense of surprise and waiting and anticipation.  That's what I think this time of year really means for me: a sense of wonder.  Anything can happen.  It's the closest time for all of us to be that little child again, and let that little child come out and play, and no one bats an eye.  So you might find me playing with Yoda Santa Claus when no one is looking.......

And because this is a blog about books and you know that it wouldn't be Christmas for me without new books, I decided a couple of years ago to give myself a box of books every year.  Through the autumn, I buy books that I want to read, and into the box they go.  Even though I know the titles, I'm not allowed to read them, or to look at them once they're in the box.  Just knowing that the latest Phil Rickman - The Secrets of Pain  - in hardcover no less! -

is among the many books waiting for me on Christmas Day, makes me excited.  The joy I feel opening that box, the sense of wonder and yes, a little greed as I hold all the new books in my hands and wait for Christmas dinner to be over (I'm the one cooking it so I have to wait until it's all over with!) so I can read, deciding all day which of them will be first.  There's nothing quite like knowing there is a whole boxful of new books waiting to be read, is there? Some others I've added are  Michelle Paver's Dark Matter in paperback, and Yrsa Sigurdadottir's Ashes to Dust (finally! I waited most of the year to find this!), Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop, among some did I say greedy?  no, I'm not greedy or I'd add more books to the box! others.

I think this is a most lovely time of year, when we remember to look in the faces of the ones we love, and share in their delight, when we make memories that become suffused with love and tenderness as the years go by.

May your holiday season be bright, and filled with love, and joy, my Gentle Bloggers.  Thank you for stopping by.  I'll see you tomorrow as we go through Day 2 of this lovely Virtual Advent Tour. I can hardly wait to come see what you like or want to talk about, this year! Happy Holidays!


Melissa Wiebe said...

Oooh, a Yoda Santa. Very cool. My advent tour post is here:

Marg said...

Oh my goodness! I want a Star Wars advent calendar!! So awesome!

I love that you are creating new traditions constantly! These will be things that your kids remember in years to come!

Thanks so much for participating in the tour, and for being brave enough to go first!

Kailana said...

I want a Star Wars advent calendar, too. I have never even seen one before!

I used to buy myself books for Christmas. I haven't the last couple years, but the box of books that the guy bought me a couple days ago makes up for it this year. I too know exactly what I am getting, but I am excited anyway. There are a couple I think you would enjoy. I will be sure to share when they arrive. :)

I hope you have a wonderful holiday season, Susan. I know things haven't gone the best for you this year, but you deserve all the most wonderful things. I am so glad you decided to join in!

Charlotte said...

We have the same lego star wars advent calendar! The kids can't wait (hopefully it will mean they get out of bed more willingly on these dark, cold school mornings!)

Court said...

Hahahaha, I totally almost bought the Star Wars lego advent calendar for myself this year! It looks sooooo awesome.

And a box of books for yourself - what a smart idea! Maybe I'll try that next year!

Ana S. said...

I want a Star Wars advent calendar too! Lovely post, Susan :) I particularly like what you say about surprises.

Booksnyc said...

I love the advent calendar tradition - it is not something we did growing up but I definitely plan to do it with my children. I love that your advent calendars were handmade by your Mom- really adds to the tradition!

betty said...

That is so cute about the Lego Advent Calendar! I'm sure the kids will enjoy putting that together! How neat too with your mom making the quilted one; a family heirloom I do believe in future years!

Always a special time of year to enjoy with family and friends. Enjoy it all!


Rikki said...

I love your little tree and the village. The Lego advent calendar is cool. I don't think I have seen a Star Wars one before, my older boy would be all over it. He had to put up with a Playmobil calendar instead.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

SO many great things about this post Susan! But I think my favorite is the quilted advent calendars. I've been searching for one but it never occurred to me to make my own! Might have to borrow your mother's idea for quilting my own.

And love the houses. My husband and I also collect Christmas (and Halloween!) villages.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday season.

ChristasBooks said...

I love that Star Wars advent calendar! Where did you find that?

Tami said...

Love that you are combining new and old traditions. That's how life should work - so younger ones can learn about both sides of their family.

Also love the idea of giving yourself a box of books. What a fun idea! I may have to steal it. I read Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop last year - it's excellent. Happy reading and Merry Christmas!

You have a lovely blog. I'll be stopping back.

sprite said...

Yoda Claus?! That totally rocks! (As does giving yourself a whole box of books, actually. Such discipline!)

Suey said...

Love those quilted calendars! Very fun.

raidergirl3 said...

Great start to the advent tour, Susan. It is fun to start new traditions. I know just what you mean about starting new ones vs continuing the old ones.
Giving yourself a box of books is genius! I love that tradition.
Merry Christmas!

Chris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chrisbookarama said...

Aw, your daughter is adorable. I bet the kids will love their new Advent Calendar.

Susan said...

Melissa: thank you for dropping by! I'll be coming to your blog shortly.

Marg: Isn't it just awesome?? I love that Santa Yoda!

Thank you for organizing the tour every year. You and Kelly give us the chance to create a closer community. I really appreciate that.

Kailana: see what I wrote to Marg above! Thank you for reminding me on Facebook about this tour. It is so fun to participate in. Thank you too, and you know I wish you a fab holiday season.

The Star Wars is very cool. Toys R Us, Mrs Tiggywinkles (I don't know if they are outside Ottawa, a children's gift store), are the two big stores that are carrying them.

Ooh, a box of books for you too! Isn't it fun?

Charlotte: Oh, wonderful! and yes, if your kids are like mine, they will run down every day just to see what comes next. It's January that's is hard to get them out of bed, I find, when it's the new year and nothing to get excited about. Have a joyous holiday!

Court: So I guess this is a hint to show the advent calendar on the 24th when it's all built?? lol perhaps with me holding Yoda? :-P

And totally go for the box of books. It's so much fun to do!

Nymeth: Were they available over there this year? I would hope so.

Thank you, Nymeth. I enjoyed writing this one, I was thinking about it over the past week after I signed up. I'm glad everyone enjoyed it. Do you like waiting to open the presents, or the anticipation that anything can happen, the most?

Susan said...

Booksync: thanks for coming by! I love the advent calendars too. We never had them growing up. My mother was looking for something to make, and decided this was something to try for the holidays. All last week my daughter was waiting for the advent calendars to come out! I'll come by your blog shortly.

That corgi: Thank you so much for coming by! Yes, as I said to Booksync just above, already my daughter waits for them to come out every year - this is our third year with them. It is such a clever idea, isn't it? and handmade with love, which as the years go by, I know they will come to associate with Christmas too. I'll come visit your blog in a few minutes.

Rikki: I think this is the first year for the Star Wars Lego. I heard about it at work, and knew I had to get it.

I love the little tree also. And my village is such fun to set up every year! Thanks so much for coming by, and I'm glad you enjoyed my post. I'll come visit your blog shortly. Happy holidays to you!

Trish: Oh, I hope you make some advent calendars too, and please post your pictures when you do! I think it's a really fun idea, and the kids really love them. Can you put up pictures of your villages too? especially next year for Hallowe'en, that would be so cool. I'm starting one for then, too. Have a happy holiday, Trish!

Susan said...

Christa: I found ours at Toys R Us, a Canadian toy store - or at least an Ottawa toy store. You can also find them online at Amazon,, and possibly through your local children's toy store. Thanks for coming by! I'm coming to your blog in a minute.

Tami: thanks so much! I'm so glad you like my blog.

Yes, I've been hearing good things about Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop. Did you review it when you read it? Have a happy holiday, too!

sprite: thanks! Yoda does rock...I can hardly wait to see him in his little Santa coat. I can hardly wait to see what the 23 other days are going to bring with this calendar! lol

Suey: Yes, quite a few of you love those quilted calendars! I'm going to pass this on to my mother. I think she will be delighted, not only that her grandchildren love them and use them, but also that so many bloggers were taken with them!

raidergirl3: I'm not sure exactly when I decided it was a box I was giving myself, it just sort of organically grew out of buying a book here and there, so I could be sure of having it to read through the holidays. Suddenly now it's a box, and I love it! lol Merry Christmas to you too! What day do you have on this tour?

Chris: the kids weren't sure about it until they realized they had 24 days of new Star Wars lego to build, with the Yoda at the end! Now they love it. I hope there's one next year.....and thanks, I'll tell HOlly-Anne that you think she is adorable! Happy holidays, Chris.

Cat @ Beyond Books said...

Star Wars Advent calendar, huh? I just had to look that up and send the link to many friends I know that would love to have one. ha!

I love that wooden tree, too. Pretty!

Did the flood ever come?

Patricia @ Lady with Books said...

A Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar? [gasp!] I want it. My geeky brother would die. You have a lot more willpower than I do about waiting to open gifts. I tear into presents the moment they are in my hot little hands and I’m not sure I’d be able to keep myself away from any big box of books. I’d probably sneak a few off to bed with me.
I just moved out of my parents’ house and, although I will be going back to visit on Christmas, this will be the first year I get to make some Christmas traditions by myself and the cat. I’m rather thinking about snowman shaped pancakes and hot chocolate for breakfast. I might even get kitty a jiggle collar and see how long it takes her to kill it (and me for putting it on her).

Very nice post!

Patricia @ Lady with Books

Susan said...

Cat: No,the flood never came! I have no idea what she was picking up then. Thanks for coming by and leaving a comment. I'll come find your blog too :-) I'm happy you enjoyed the post!

Patricia: I hope you can find the Lego Star Wars Calendar! My kids are enjoying it so far (2 days now).

Snowman shaped pancakes and hot chocolate sound like a fabulous way to start Christmas morning! Yum!

Thanks for coming by and leaving a comment, I will come find you now :-)

DesLily said...

everything looks "merry and bright" I sure hope you have a great month and a wonderful christmas Susan. Luckily, having small children makes it so you have a great one!

Bybee said...

My son would have been all over the Star Wars Advent calendar. Your kids will always remember 2011! Please crunch on one of your awesome ginger cookies just for me and have a wonderful holiday.

Susan said...

Deslily: thank you! You know I hope you put up some decorations this year, for yourself :-) I love Christmas lights. Do you have many on houses down there in Florida?

Bybee: All the ginger cookies are long eaten! lol they were very soft and crunchy at the same time, this time around. I did think of you too, book-twin. I do every time I make these cookies! I wish there were a way to send some to you! Have a wonderful holiday too :-)

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

Thank you for reminding me about the wonder of Christmas. It is about surprises! Thanks.

Teddyree said...

Star Wars Advent calender is awesome, my boys would have loved this when they were little.

I love your little village, absolutely adorable, thanks for sharing the photos and I think your box of books for Christmas is a fabulous idea! Not sure I wouldn't be tempted to help myself sometime throughout the year lol

I {heart} Rhody said...

Can I just say that Star Wars Advent calendar is awesome?! Happy Christmas to you and your family.

Susan said...

DebNance: you are so welcome! It's easy to get jaded, isn't it, especially with all the shopping and pressure to buy everything to make a perfect Christmas. It's when my kids come downstairs each morning and rush to their advent calendars to see what the surprise is, that I remember its' the sense of wonder that I love so much about this time, and life. I hope you have a lovely Christmas season!

Teddyree: I know! I could keep filling my box through the year and dipping into it for my own suprise on a rainy day! I really like knowing that box is coming for Christmas, all books I've chosen and really want to read. I get excited for me now again! lol
the kids do love the Advent Calendar - we have one week left, and they are counting down to Yoda too....

Erika: Thank you! It is kind of awesome, we are all really enjoying every day's surprise gift from Star Wars :-) Happy Christmas to you and your family too!