Sunday, December 20, 2009

December Happenings

December is flying by, but we are keeping warmth in our hearts and simplicity in our souls. Here is some of the goings-on around the Miller household...

On December 7th we said farewell to Uncle Jared as he departed on his two-year LDS mission. We are so proud of his willingness to serve the people of South Africa, but will sorely miss his fun, sweet spirit! (Yes, we have two Jareds who are very dear to us serving missions. Uncle Jared is my youngest brother - only two years older than Jill, he is very close to our family. The other Jared is Jill's (and our!) dear friend to whom we said farewell in June...)

We have an advent tradition in our home of an advent house with doors that open each day to reveal a little suprise. Each child takes a turn - youngest to oldest- so they each end up with 5 suprises. Here are a couple of the things I made this year. A little felt fox, and a baby mouse in a walnut shell cradle. The fox was designed by Elsa, and the mousey was inspired by a similar one my Oma made years ago. It is such a special treat to pass on memories of my childhood!

This month I participated in the Seasons Round winter nature table swap. The Seasons Round is a lovely swap among Waldorf-schooled families to share ideas throughout the year. My partner was Wendy W. in San Fransisco, and although she does not have a blog, I truly hope that at some point she will, as she is such a sweet spirit and has much to share. She sent me the beautiful beeswax candles shown in the advent wreath below, as well as a good fortune bag of the most heavenly lavender and an adorable seasonal story about a little sunflower seed being tucked in to bed for the winter by Mother Earth.
I made for her a little star-bearer table doll, a Celtic sun spiral tapestry, a beeswax votive, and a straw star ornament. You can read a more detailed description on my flickr site here.

Our cutie Lucy attended a formal 16th birthday party for a friend last weekend. She was so beautiful in her sparkly dress and makeup with her hair all done up in ringlets!

This is our advent wreath inspired by Tasha Tudor. I actually just made it on Friday! I hadn't thought I would, but I sat down Friday afternoon to have a cup of tea and the last piece of Panettone I made for homeschool the day before, and decided to watch the Tasha Tudor video "Take Peace". It was a very sweet and calming moment. In the video, Tasha digs in the snow to find the last green branches of boxwood and brings them inside to make her advent wreath. I suddenly realized that I have a boxwood bush that is sprouting like crazy and needs to be trimmed I went outside in the 72 degree gentle afternoon and cut some branches and wove them into the beautiful wreath seen above. I had two candles from my swap, and just happened to have two more sheets of beeswax. Elsa helped me carefull roll them into candles and we hung our beautiful wreath with plaid ribbons in tribute to our Scottish heritage. I think we have come upon a new holiday tradition!

One of the most meaningful experiences I have had this season was crafting an ornament for a special lady in need. When Nicole (gardenmama) contacted me about this project I was so touched that she would think of me and so grateful to be included. Sometimes service for others is hard to do, but then again, sometimes we need to let go of our feelings of being overwhelmed by our busy lives and reach out to those around us. Perhaps it is time to bring our thoughts inwards, simplify our lives, listen to the spirit and then extend ourselves to those in need.
There is a beautiful quote by Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the LDS First Presidency: "In the end, the number of prayers we say may contribute to our happiness, but he number of prayers we answer may be of even greater importance. Let us open our eyes and see the heavy hearts, notice the loneliness and despair; let us feel the silent prayers of others around us, and let us be an instrument in the hands of the Lord to answer those prayers."

I am sure that participating in this act of service was far more of a blessing to me. It has helped me feel the true meaning of the celebration of this season - that love and charity are where happiness and peace reside.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Neighborhood Nativity

Every year our neighborhood gathers for a Nativity play and dinner. Our family helps by providing Mary's "donkey" (our pony) and various goats for the shepherds. This year a new neighbor family brought a "camel" (llama) for the wise men and a darling miniature jersey cow! The cast is the children, with the nine year olds traditionally up on the scaffolding as angels, the oldest 11 year old girl and boy as Mary and Joseph, anyone brave enough to hold a goat as shepherds, and three 9-11 year old boys as wise men. All the other kids join in the Children's Choir. It is a beautiful and sweet event usually held the first Saturday in December. It is such a lovely way to start our season focused on the true meaning of Christmas.