I entered Michaels’ craft store for the first time last fall, and it was overwhelming. Previously I liked to claim that I was afraid of Michaels, and afraid of all things crafty. I’m not a crafty person. I bake; I scrapbook a bit in the most basic, non-fluffy of ways; I know how to knit. That’s the extent of it.
But I decided I better get over it last fall when I realized how much my kids – then 4 and 2 – enjoyed cutting, coloring, and glueing… And I figured, how hard can it be anyway? To pull off elaborate and Martha Stewart-esque crafts might be hard, but to do basic projects my kids could enjoy surely is not. And I was right. It’s not that hard; doesn’t have to require that much prep from me; and is a delight to my children.
We spent ten of the first twenty days of December in the northeast visiting an ill family member, so our pre-Christmas period was notably curtailed. Since our oldest is now five and very cognizant of and interested in the Christmas narrative, I had really wanted to make advent special and meaningful this year. I considered doing the beautiful Jesse Tree devotional that Ann of A Holy Experience put out this winter, but it felt like too much. I wistfully wondered what we might do to somehow gussy up our space to something special and meaningful, like Elise of A Path Made Straight did so inspiringly for Thanksgiving. But that too, I knew, was unrealistic.
Simple crafting would best for us, I concluded, and it would more than suffice for our kids. So in addition to our tree and normal Christmas decorations, we did a few simple creations. The first weekend of Advent we made a garland with construction paper and markers and hung it alongside our kitchen table. We used puffy Christmas stickers to embellish a colored “Happy birthday Jesus” sign for our bulletin board. When we returned from our trip, we hand-decorated the envelopes for the Christmas cards we’re giving our local friends and are driving around town to drop them off in person rather than mailing them – commemorating the friendships and community as we do so.
These things – in addition to the advent and nativity books we’re reading (old and new), gift preparations, and cookie-baking – really are making this season feel notable to our kids. And if Jesus made his entrance on the earth in such a humble and unadorned way, then surely the tone of our intentional yet low-key efforts are fitting for our newborn King this Christmas. We celebrate him; we make things special as we are able. The 3-year-old and 5-year-old efforts our children gladly and enthusiastically offer to commemorate His birthday are readily and joyously accepted by Him, I know.