We just concluded our celebration of Advent at Appleseeds. In the nursery, we celebrate Advent as simply a time of light in a darker time of year. I love that at this time of year, so many holidays include the lighting of candles and a focus on letting light shine into the dark parts of the world. So many cultures have brought this about and I am so grateful for the diverse backgrounds that bring us to this place. I know it enriches my holiday times to have a wreath with Advent candles for my family to light each night leading up until Christmas. I love thinking about how many people around the world are doing something similar in their own way and how humans yearn for light in darkness, universally. In the nursery, children took turns each day putting a golden star up onto a royal blue silky sky above our toy shelf. They also each took turns picking an item to put onto our Advent "wreath" each day. This wreath is different from my own family's wreath in that it focuses on the elements in our world that we are grateful for, as each family has it's own way of acknowledging the season and this way brings light into the occasion without being exclusive to one way of celebrating. The nursery children each picked an item from the mineral kingdom during the first week of December. So in our treasure box they could choose from shells, a shark's tooth, or stones. One child had a turn each day. During the second week, the children chose from treasures from the plant kingdom; dried apples, dried oranges, pinecones and flower blossoms. During the third week, the treasure box held small wooden animals to celebrate "birds and beasts both large and least". Had we been together for the fourth week, we would have celebrated humans and put figures of people on the wreath. For each candle lit, we had a short verse that we sang.
Our little take-home project for this festive time was a window star. The children painted blue and purple on watercolor paper, which I then cut into a star shape with a window of wax paper. Each child glued some stars into the wax paper. The two sides of the star were glued together and I punched holes along the side. With a yarn needle and yarn, they helped to sew along the edge for added flair.
What a wonderful honor it is to work with young children! To see humans at the very start of life. To see how vulnerable humans can be and yet how all-embracing as well. It is a wonderful chance to be able to sit and watch the children playing. There's so much to learn just in watching their interactions with one another. In an environment that is not rushed from one task to another, you see children sitting to console one another with hand-holding, kisses, and hugs. Sometimes they have to back-up, change directions, and make way for another. They have to take time to figure out a game that will suit everyone involved. There's time to work things through and time to enjoy one another.