After the kids were older, I mustered the courage to display tradition-rich, elegant (read: breakable) items like a glass nativity and a musical ceramic St. Nicholas. But with Sooby, Pooh, and Bootsie scheduled to arrive on Christmas Day, I will need to play down the elegance and probably the nostalgia. One look at my house this year and you can easily figure out that my theme is "interactive."
"Interactive" means that the kids--a baby, a toddler, and a preschooler--will be able to experience my decorations up close and personal. They can touch and rearrange however they wish. This year, my decorations look a lot like toys. Here are some of the things they can look forward to:
- a homemade felt board on which they can place felt cutouts of Santa, his reindeer, his sleigh, his bag, and a number of toys.
- a "stable" (garage sale--25 cents) that is just the right size for positioning plastic figures of Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, the three wise men, a donkey and a cow. This particular stable has two levels, so if Baby Jesus gets cold, he can be moved upstairs (heat rises?). Or, if the donkey and cow need to come in and warm up, they can claim a spot by intimidating the three wise men.
- two Beanie Kid dolls (Chip and Boomer) dressed as Santa Claus and an elf. These elaborate costumes (garage sale--$1 each) include hats, a beard for Santa, full suit, shoes or boots, and a bag of toys that attaches to Santa's wrist with a rubber band. Chip and Boomer can practice a little role reversal here while the kids hone their fine motor skills by dressing and undressing them numerous times. And what fun it might be to mix up the costumes? Santa wearing elf shoes! An elf with a beard! The combinations are endless.
- a set of red and green painted wooden blocks with letters much like the ones we all played with as kids ourselves. Except, this set consists of seven blocks, with which you can spell "Noel" or "Joy." I am seeing the potential for a spelling explosion here, as we mix up these blocks to make words like loon, loo (maybe not), and lye. One, on, and no. I imagine I will use that last word a lot.
Christmas calls for a more or less immersion in the symbols, stories, and traditions of this most wonderful time of the year. This year, I am expecting the kids to revel in it up to their elbows, and, if these ideas run their course--well--there are always all those possibilities afforded by a good batch of homemade sugar cookie dough, a bowl of icing, and a shaker of sprinkles. Capitalizing as it does on all five senses, that is about as interactive as you can get.