This is my family’s first year celebrating Advent. We have always celebrated Christmas, but since I was using some Waldorf ideas in our homeschool we didn’t always do festivals. When I first heard the word “Advent” being used on my Waldorf Facebook groups I was concerned. I grew up in a Roman Catholic family. I only knew that Advent was going to church and watching the priest light the candles around a nicely decorated manger. I am not anti-religion, but I do not practice a formal religion for myself. In our family we understand the idea of God and we appreciate that many people believe in many different religions and that is what makes our world beautiful.
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So I wondered, what could my family get out of the season of Advent?
We have gotten a lot so far, and we are going to get a whole lot more in the next few weeks. I realized I was going to need some kind of Advent table. I knew I didn’t want to use the table in my schoolroom/den because I’d have too many kids touching it all day long. I knew I had to pick something special…….magical. I decided that the console table in our living room was the perfect spot. We could keep our brand new Advent spiral up and not have to worry about moving it. We could light our candles and sit in the living room around our Christmas tree to listen to stories. Okay, I have a table to use. Now what do I put on it? Time to visit Pinterest!!!!!
I found so many beautiful Advent tables in all different styles and sizes. Some were simple while others were elaborate! Since this was our first year I knew I didn’t have a lot of things to put out, but we would do our best to make it beautiful and reverent. Then I remembered my Happy Hedgehog Post envelope for this month……a beautiful needle felted angel and a sweet little snowflake baby. These would be perfect for our advent table! I got to work crafting and had them done in record time (I was really excited).
I bought an inexpensive tablecloth to use a white backdrop and a beautiful blue silk made by Sarah’s Silks for a table cover. I set out my advent spiral and my angel and snowflake baby. I stood back and looked at my table……it was missing something. I went later that day to the craft store and found some very inexpensive wooden trees and a cute little white lantern to finish the decor. One more thing I had to add (that was already on my table) was my himalayan salt lamp. This worked for the first week of advent anyway, and it gives off such a beautiful warm glow.
Now I just needed to put a framed weekly poem and some stones and seashells for the first week. My advent table was really coming together! With the help of my little rock and mineral collector son, we added some lovely stones to our table. My 5 year old picked some really pretty seashells from our shell basket and chose where to place them.
I snapped a few photos and I was so proud…….but I still felt like something was missing. I had all of the trimmings, all of the beauty and decor. What else did I need?
I realized that one of the biggest parts of Advent for the parent/teacher is the inner work surrounding this Festival. In September we talked about St. Michael and defeating the dragons in our lives and in November we talked about St. Martin and bringing our inner light to those who are in the darkest parts of their lives. I realized that Advent is the time we bring all of our lights together. Each night we light a candle to count down the days until the entire table is aglow. We walk a spiral and place our little candles next to those of our friends and family. Advent is a way to show children how their inner light can multiply when it is shared with others. I am learning that I need to share my light with others too in order for them to share theirs with me. This was the part I was missing, and now that it was found I could start sculpting out the rest of our advent plans.
We are using Advent and Christmas Stories: A Treasury of Stories, Verses, and Songs by Estelle Bryer and Janni Nicol for our daily stories. There are WAY more than 25 stories to choose from and many of them can be tied into the week of advent you are in. We have read quite a few so far and we are really enjoying this book right after we light our candles.
We are also listening to Sparkle Stories Audio Advent calendar! This year they are using Junkyard Tales for their stories and they even made the cutest printable advent calendar for you to cut out and hang on your wall. My kids are opening the little door every morning to reveal which character we will be listening to that evening. I love listening to their ideas on what will happen next in the story. They also have really lovely printables to go along with each days story, and I love the fact that they include a leading question on the bottom. This reminds kids of what happened in the story and allows them to use their imaginations to fill in the pictures.
I am so grateful to the lovely community of Waldorf parents who have helped me along my journey to discovering what Advent is about. What have you discovered about yourself this Advent? What have you and your children been doing?
We would love to see your photos on instagram or Facebook. Simply tag @Happyhedgehogpost or post them directly on our Facebook page! You can also find me, Jenn, on instagram @WaldorfByHeart. I’d love to connect with you and learn more about your families.