Friday, December 4, 2015

People Get Ready: St. Nicholas Is Coming!

I'm updating this post to add a link to Like Mother Like Daughter where there's a link up for living Advent. Click over there to see how Advent can be wonderful and simple.

Our reading bench has been transformed into our Advent bench. I suppose it would be better if the drawers and wrapped books were in pink and purple instead of red and black, but we go with what we have.

We hung our stockings on the first day of Advent because St. Nicholas is coming on the eve of his feast day, December 6th. On Sunday morning, we'll wake up and find our stockings full of little goodies. It took a while, but in the past few years I have finally gathered enough stocking holders I really like for all six of us. I'm also still incredibly happy every time I see the stocking I made for First Son. (Apparently, I need to post some close-up pictures of it finished in a stocking shape.) First Daughter's is well under-way. She has high hopes it'll be ready by next year but I doubt that unless I pick up the pace.

The other stockings are all just mixed and matched. We have enough of the glittery green and red ones for everyone, but I let them choose. Second Son insisted on the doggie stocking which is supposed to be for our dog.

For some reason, Second Daughter decided she wanted to make her own stocking. She cut some fabric the girls had in their stash and stitched it together in a semi-stocking shape. It's hard to tell in the picture, but she then stitched on a block she cut from a sunflower fabric. It is simultaneously awful and wonderful. Let's hope it holds up to her gifts from St. Nicholas.

Last year, St. Nicholas brought "Christmas coupons" for all the children. Good until his feast day this year, they were gleefully received and redeemed. Here are a few of the favorites from last year and some new coupons we expect St. Nicholas to bring this year. I'm pretty sure he just created them in Word, printed them on his home printer, and cut them apart.
  • Choose the movie and snacks for a family movie night (rentals accepted) - This was one of my favorites!
  • A grocery list addition (with a maximum value)
  • A batch of homemade cookies of your choice
  • Choose the first game on a family game night
  • No meal chores today
  • One chocolate milk
  • Go out to dinner with Mom or Dad
  • Stay up 30 minutes past bedtime (specified nights only)
  • Eat dessert when it's not a dessert night
  • Choose a book or app (cost limit) for the Kindle or iPad
  • Bonus 30 minutes of screen time
  • Be First Day (when the coupon holder will be able to choose first for where to sit, which cup to use, and whenever else there are choices during the day)
  • Choose a book from any source (used or new, with a maximum value)
  • Enjoy a post-bedtime movie with Mom and Dad
  • Choose what's for dinner
  • Choose what's for dessert
  • One cup of frozen yogurt at our favorite outing spot
First Son appreciated that there were twelve - one for each year. Because I'm that kind of person, I wrote on the back of each coupon when it was redeemed and for what, if it was a movie or grocery item.

We also made St. Nicholas cookies. I always make this recipe and nothing says Advent has begun to me as much as kneading this sweet spicy dough on the counter until it's smooth. (I use lard instead of shortening so it's soy-free and this year I omitted the cloves for a friend who is on the Feingold plan.) I made two batches - the first with my almost-three-year-old goddaughter while all the other kids played outside (joy!). The second batch I split four ways and let my kids have free rein with cookie cutters on the kitchen table.

First Daughter made a good mix of different shapes. Second Daughter made a whole tray of gingerbread man cookies. (I like to make whole trays of the same cookie, too.) First Son made only a handful of really thick cookies. Second Son made fewer cookies than the others because he ended up with a handful of dough too covered in flour to be molded into a shape, but he had fun. The girls "branded" their cookies with initials so they would be able to tell which they had made even after they were baked.

The kitchen and two of the four children were a complete mess, but we now have lots of St. Nicholas cookies to share. They are especially delicious for grown-ups when dipped in tea. Children generally prefer to cover them with icing and sprinkles.

We'll decorate a few on the eve of the feast (Saturday night) so they look more like St. Nicholas. Here's First Daughter with the one she made last year.

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