Growing up, my mom had this wonderful Advent calendar that came out every year right after Thanksgiving. It was entirely made of felt, and she’d put it together when I was tiny and we were living in Germany, so it had a delightfully subtle European influence. Deep blue background, with a jute braid winding up the center as the street through the center of a little town. At the top of it all, and at the end of the street, a sweet village chapel with a star burning bright above it, welcoming the arrival of Christmas. Along the sides of the street were felt houses, one for each day from December 1 through Dec 23, and pinned to one all during the month was a paper doll family–one for each of us. The family would move from house to house all month long, a different house each day, finally arriving at the chapel on Christmas Eve, beneath the shining star. Some years, when we all remembered, we’d move the family to the star itself on Christmas morning.
I loved seeing this scene replay itself each year, and it has become such a permanent part of my memories of childhood. I’ve been through shops and seen other Advent calendars, some good–hand carved pieces from Guatemala in one–others not so much–paper cards with a candy for each day that had creepy woodland creatures on them, some sort of Easter/Christmas mishmash. None of them, not even the bestest handmade ones, really could hold a candle to the one I grew up with. In my mind, it is larger than life, and holds so much more than the bits of felt that went into making it.
And for me, that’s what handmade really comes down to: not the cache it currently holds, but the connection it creates and the past-joined-to-future aspect. I want to pass that on to my own children, and have waited entirely too long to grab the dog by the ears (as the Romans used to say) and make it happen.
If I learned nothing else from the yard upon yard of gorgeous hoarded wool that I lost to the Great Flood of 2009, it’s that waiting hardly ever pays off in sewing. Do it NOW, I say.
So I am.
This week’s major project: a modern re-creation of this 70s epic masterpiece. I’m thinking 3D applique on a felt background. Anyone else have suggestions? What do you do (if anything) for an Advent calendar in your house?
Hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving, and looking forward to spending the Christmas season with you!