Friday, January 9

Looking Back at Advent

I thought I posted this a week ago, but well, here it still sits ... Sometimes I wish there was more space to write and share in this space.  But then, I remember that I have time and space, but I use it make the celebrations happen and to read great books with the boys.  Right now, with four wee boys, there just isn't always space for everything at once and I'm grateful that I can still be present in this space at all, even if it is sporadic.  I'm hopeful that time to write will come more frequently again, but for now I'll be here when I can be and I'm so grateful for those of you who write emails, ask questions, make comments and just peek in from time to time.  

This is the first year where I felt like the advent readings carried themselves through the season.  That doesn't mean there weren't evenings where Jim and I just wanted to skip to bedtime, but the boys all had the expectation and anticipation of readings and save from one or two nights that we were out late advent readings happened (this certainly hasn't always been the case - and I'm totally fine with that.)  

That said, I do think we overshot a bit.  We started with Jesse tree readings from Ann Voskamp's new book.  We've always done bible reading with the Jesse tree and I was excited to have a book to guide us.    But, I wasn't overly impressed.  The big idea of the book was great and the artwork is beautiful.  The text was weak though and I think the discussion questions could have been so much better.  Honestly I think Voskamp tried too hard.  I love her vision of using the Old Testament stories to lead us to Christ, the ultimate gift of Love.  But she worked so hard at tying all the stories together with God's unwrappable, unstoppable... love that she lost the stories themselves.  I was amazed as we read the story of Noah how the narrative of God and Noah barely came up.  The Old Testament does point to Christ, the stories don't need to be overly embellished to focus in on this fact.  It gave me new appreciation for the Jesus Story book Bible, because while the JSBB isn't always my favorite retelling of any given story, Jones never loses the narrative while she ties it all neatly together.  Jonah's third grade class read Voskamp's book and he really enjoyed it, but it is way too long and convoluted for our younger boys.  I think the fact Jonah knows all the stories well and loves abstract thought allowed him to enjoy the book.  We ended up just reading the scriptures out of the book after a week in.  Jonah often read the rest on his own each night.

I also wrapped up the Christmas picture books this year.  We enjoyed this, but I don't think it will be an every year tradition.  The boys enjoyed opening the books (we opened a pack of three every day) and we would chose one to read together.  Often Jim also read at least one to the younger boys for bedtime.  

My favorite (as always) was reading The Light in the Lantern and making Mary and Joseph's way to Bethlehem.  I love how every year our garden for Mary and Joseph looks different.
Day One: The smoothing of the stones
I made salt dough to stick pine sprigs into to make trees.  Rowan had fun finding wooden animals from our farm during the third week.  He decided to make a stable one night too.


Caitlin said...

I've been a reader for a while but never commented. Thank you for this post! I had a similar experience with Ann Voskamp's book. I actually ended up, in my post-Advent debrief, deciding that I might let the Jesse Tree go next year because it just seemed like too much and too over the heads of my children (5 year old twins and a 1.5 year old). I felt that I wasn't reading them the OT stories this year, but reading a devotion that was far too complicated for them and for me at time, too. The Jesse Tree ended up being the thing that felt like too much this year. Maybe that will change as my children grow. I did start reading the Light in the Lantern for bedtime at your recommendation and the whole family loved it. Thank you for recommending such a lovely resource that surely opened our imaginations this Advent. As a Christian mother with some Waldorf interests who teaches Godly Play I have found such inspiration from your words. Thank you for writing, whenever it is that you get the opportunity!

Watkins said...

Thanks Caitlin. I'm so glad you enjoyed Light in the Lantern. I'm learning that letting go of things for a time is often wise (though I sometimes find it difficult).