Advent, as you may know, is all about getting ready…so this post is about getting ready for getting ready! This is another one from the archive…a fantastic activity which we enjoyed so much as a family and the children still talk about it and remember it a year on. So, as its 2 weeks to December (and I am knee deep in exhibition prep!) here it is to give you ideas for your preparations. So read below and then click on these follow up posts here and here to see how this nativity activity evolved. Enjoy!
In Italy it is the custom to build a nativity scene in your home (often instead of a Christmas tree). I have vivid and fond childhood memories of the year my mum decided to build a really elaborate nativity, taking over a whole sideboard and built with a lot of love and creativity.
We have always had a small nativity under our tree but this year I have decided to make a proper nativity in one of our alcoves in the dining room. This is partly inspired by my mum’s example and partly by a wonderful book from the Steiner Waldorf tradition that I dip into frequently, called “All Year Round”.
So today I worked hard to build our nativity that has the theme “Mary’s Journey”. The heart of this is to help us all understand in a visual and enchanting way the story of the nativity and the ideas behind the season of advent (like waiting and preparation). This nativity is built up slowly over the four weeks of advent, adding more figures and props on each advent Sunday so that by the time Christmas eve comes, the setting (as our hearts) are ready for the arrival of the small, vulnerable baby who came to show us another way to live.
The beauty of this nativity is the shining pathway of stars for Mary to journey along. Each day, the children move Mary along the star path and each day a star is removed from the path and stuck to the sky. The little ones can see Christmas getting closer and closer as the path gets shorter and shorter (and the sky more sparkly!).
We started tonight with Isabella and Toby placing Mary (and a donkey – really an ox! – at Isabella’s insistence) on the first star of the path. We then each added a stone to the scene. I will post photos each Sunday so you can see the nativity develop.
Before you imagine a scene of creative domestic bliss, you have to know that Mary was dropped on her head by Isabella and shattered beyond repair (she was really upset and took a lot of reassuring that she had done nothing wrong). We traipsed off in the rain to find another Mary. Then, in the midst of preparing food and being asked repeatedly to draw Mr Men, a star and jingle bells, I contorted myself into the strangest angles to tap nails and screws into the wood to hold up the blue material and fairy lights. The blood was running out of my arms, the nails kept falling out and the material flopping down when I stopped and put my head in my hands in frustration. Isabella noticed this, came up, stroked me and said “It’s ok mummy, I know you can do it”. So gorgeous and she was right. It was done, it looks lovely and I am excited about this creative addition to our Christmas.