Hello! How have you been? How was your November? I had big plans to be on time with holiday wishes for you folks in the States, along with a quick advent calendar post, but it's suddenly the 4th of December and I'm not sure how that happened. (Time machine? Sleep deprivation? Too much whiskey?) There is maybe the chance that one or two of you are still looking to throw together a sweet and easy advent calendar for the small people in your life, so here I am with the most belated (and possibly redundant) post of all time! I have to admit I was confused by the concept of the modern "advent calendar." I have a few vague childhood memories of paper calendars with tiny windows you could open on each day of December, revealing a little scene from the nativity. But that's about it. I grew up celebrating advent in my family...but, you know, actual Advent. With a capital "A." Advent was a time of spiritual reflection: lighting special candles each Sunday, reading poems or scriptures. It was about reverence and tradition and, I realize now, silencing the noise and consumerism that typically fuels the Christmas season. As a kid I hated those Sundays (so boring! so stuffy! such itchy tights!), but I get it now and I love it. I carry on the tradition in my own home and look forward to it every year.
But hey! it's 2014 and Pinterest exists. There are suddenly "advent calendars" everywhere. And people are into them. Homemade, store bought, full of candy, or toys, or just... activities? It's perplexing. For one hot second, I started to think my kid (or future kids) would be disappointed if I didn't jump on the bandwagon, but then realized how insane that sounded, and promptly stepped away from the computer. I mean, I like the concept of a countdown calendar centered around winter/holiday activities, but the very idea of putting one together sounded like a logistical nightmare. Factor in a toddler with SPD, and obvious holiday activities like driving around to see the lights, riding the Holiday Express Train, going to the Nutcracker, meeting Santa, shopping, etc, were all completely out of the question. In fact, most holiday activities are a total nightmare for kids with different processing needs, so goodbye advent calendar! It was great not knowing you.
We were at the library browsing through the holiday books a few days later, when it finally occurred to me that we could do an "advent calendar" in our own way. The Book-Scout and her sensitive child way. Screw Pinterest. We checked out 25 holiday (and winter) books. I tried to make sure they were toddler appropriate--so no Gift of the Magi, or you know, Dickens. I picked up a bag of round wooden numbers at our local craft store, one for each day, and hot-glued them to some popsicle sticks we already had on hand. Viola. The Book-Scout Advent Calendar. Fifteen minutes to make, a total cost of $2.50, and already a huge hit with my tiny bookworm. He is especially into numbers and counting at the moment, so asking him to find the book with the right number each night after dinner is basically the most exciting thing that has ever happened to him. It's also been a neat way to get to know different stories within the Christmas tradition, and I want to continue to include books from across as many cultures and countries as possible, just like we do in our every day reading. Best of all are the few minutes of quiet and calm I get to spend with my boy at the end of these long, long days, in the busiest of all months. In December, it feels like the rarest thing.
Because it is.
These are the books we checked out this year, but feel free to share any of your new or old favorites in the comments! It was very last minute, so we used only what was on the library shelves (no holds, etc.), but next year I might take some more time to curate it and check out a few more titles from the list we all put together last December.
The Book Scout Advent Calendar 2014
Little Blue Truck's Christmas, by Alice Schertle
Dream Snow, by Eric Carle
Is It Christmas Yet? , by Jane Chapman
The Hat, by Jan Brett
The Huron Carol, by Jean De Brebeuf
Merry Christmas Big Hungry Bear (Child's Play Library), by Don & Audrey Wood
The Snowy Day , by Ezra Jack Keats
How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas? , by Jane Yolen
Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale, by Martin Waddell
The Christmas Magic, by Lauren Thompson, illustrated by Jon Muth
This Is the Stable, by Cynthia Cotten
The African 12 Days of Christmas, by Rachel Isadora
The Donkey's Christmas Song, by Nancy Tafuri
Hurry Hurry Have You Heard, by Laura Krauss Melmed
Christmas- Count and Celebrate!, by Fredrick McKissack
The Christmas Bears, by Chris Conover
Noel, by Tony Johnston
Christmas Cookies: Bite-Size Holiday Lessons, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Mortimer's Christmas Manger, by Karma Wilson
Let It Snow (Toot & Puddle), by Holly Hobbie
The Christmas Quiet Book, by Deborah Underwood
The Mitten, by Alvin Tresselt (There are so many versions, but this is our favorite.)
Christmas Wombat, by Jackie French
10 Trim-the-Tree'ers, by Janet Schulman
Little Golden Book Christmas Favorites (Little Golden Book Favorites)
The Night Before Christmas, by Clement Clarke Moore, illustrated by Holly Hobbie
Happy reading, and happy December, friends.