Now I am 39 years old and my heart still warms up each time I see that little girl in her pajamas. As much as I am still fascinated by it, I struggle to find again that magic around me. The speed of daily life, the almost too bright electric lights everywhere, the big shopping centers selling Christmas as one of their best products of the year and everyone running around trying to buy presents for their friends and families.
This is the modern adult world … but, what if, just for 5 days, we committed to live again that magic that we felt when we were children and used to dream with elves, reindeers, silent ancient forests full of snow, twinkling stars, Christmas trees and robins?
"As a child, one has that magical capacity to move among the many eras of the earth; to see the land as an animal does; to experience the sky from the perspective of a flower or a bee; to feel the earth quiver and breathe beneath us; to know a hundred different smells of mud and listen unself- consciously to the soughing of the trees." Valerie Andrews, A Passion for this Earth
If yes, choose a period of 5 days within this Christmas holiday and design and implement the following Christmas adventure.
*For 5 days, your children will be the leaders in the design and the implementation of this adventure. Leadership comes with responsibility, so they should take this role very seriously! If your child or children are too young, as it is our case, then you will have to represent them; that is, you will lead the process through your inner child’s eyes and heart, not your adult’s.
"A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood." Rachel Carson
Here is the Plan:
Step 1. Define Your Mission: Organize a family meeting and jointly agree on a mission for the next 5 days Christmas Adventure. For example, at our home, this year, our mission is to have lots of fun!
Once you have defined it, write it down beautifully in a nice piece of recycled paper or cardboard and hang it somewhere where everyone in the family will see it everyday. Try to draw it as well, so that the youngest at home can own and relate to the mission too.
And, what about organizing a small ceremony in which each one gives their vow to that mission? If your children are excited by the knights world, you could do something like king Arthur giving his vow to Lancelot, or Luke Skye Walker giving his vow to the Jedi’s Council, or the Elf warrior or the Hobbit …. Use your fantasy and imagination!
Step 2. Establish Three Objectives. The three things you want to achieve during these 5 days adventure (beyond having fun!). For example, one of the objectives Matt, Skye and I have is to discover ten magical things in nature that we have never seen before.
Step 3. Define The Rules of the Game. These are the principles that, jointly with your mission and objectives, will guide all the actions and decisions you take in this adventure. For example, “we will respect all kinds of life, so will not take alive plants, animals or insects away from their environment.”
Step 4. Design Five Activities to Realize your Mission and Implement them! This is where the real fun begins, where your imagination and creativity will take off. Here are some really exciting ideas that we came across that you can use as inspiration. Some we have done already and some we will implement over the holidays:
1. Decide with you child or children what animal mask they would like to make: Fox, Owl, Badger, Mouse, Bear, Monkey, Tiger, Dog ... You can make pretty much any animal. We made a bear mask.
2. Use the back of a thin cardboard box (e.g. the back of a cereal packet) and draw the outline, eyes, nose etc.
3. Cut it out and add color with a paints, crayons or pens.
4. Pierce holes each side. We found it is a good idea to reinforce the holes by sticking another small square of cardboard where the holes will be. Thread elastic string through the holes so the children can wear it.
5. Observe as their imagination flows, as they make up stories and move around like the animals. If there is a group they can swap masks and even make up little plays to perform for the adults.
1. You need to decide together on a couple of characters and a couple of props. Keep it simple. We had a horse, an owl, a tree and a cave (made by drawing a bow large enough for the horse to go in). Under water ones would be cool too.
2. Draw your characters and props out on a sheet of cardboard; it is better if it is black cardboard or painted black. During the process you will find the story lines for the play will organically start to emerge.
3. Carefully cut them out and tape them to a wooden spoon or stick.
4. Setting the stage. Use a large white thin tea towel, a small bed sheet or a large piece of tracing paper and attach it with washing line pegs to a piece of string. The tricky part is finding where to attach the string. We tied one end to a chair and the other to a bookshelf.
5. Use a lamp, ideally a desktop lamp, to back light the tea towel or tracing paper. Now you are all set to let the fun really begin!
1. For this to work well it is great to have some multi-colored craft pipe cleaners, (available at craft shops or amazon for about 2 Euros for a pack of 100) and some small pieces of colored card or felt and glue.
2. Decide what animal to make. We like spiders and hedgehogs, but you could make pretty much any animal. Walnuts can work well for spiders or animals with bigger heads and obviously button for eyes works a treat.
3. Go for a walk in the local park or nearest forest and find some pine cones; gather a few different shapes and sizes. You might need to cut the bottoms off with garden scissors if you need it to stand up right.
4. Use the craft pipe cleaners to make legs or tails.
5. Cut out circles of felt or cardboard for the faces and eyes, it is all pretty intuitive.
1. Gather a few small branches from you garden or during a walk.
2. Arrange them into a circle and hold them in place by wrapping black cotton thread around them.
3. Add pine cones, ribbon and Christmas tree decorations.
4. A candle can be added to the center to make it really magical.
5. Make another one and give it away!
1. You can find ingredients for bird food from things you will probably have at home like peanuts, apples, any type of seed, un-cooked oats and last bits from the bottom of your cereal packets. Alternatively you can buy a pre-made bird feed bags. Either way you want about 1 and 1/4 cups.
2. Mix 1/4 cup of hot water with one small sachet of unflavored gelatin, until the gelatin has totally dissolved, then mix it well with your 1 and 1/4 cups of bird food.
3. Transfer to small baking molds, keeping the edges clean. Make a small hole with a chop stick so that you can thread some string through once its set to be able to hang it.
4. Leave it overnight to set, then take it out of the mold, thread some string through and hang it in an outdoor space; it can be a tree in the park, on your balcony or in a back garden. Position it in a way so that it will be difficult for cats to take advantage of the situation whilst the birds are feeding.
5. Observe the birds as they come to nibble, there will be more activity at dusk and dawn. Take note of the different birds that come and visit, you can look them up in books or on the Internet or draw pictures of them.
1. Challenge your kids to an adventurous exploration: finding the following ingredients in your kitchen cupboards: dates (1/2 cup), grated dry coconut (1/2 cup), oat flakes (1/2 cup), almonds or sesame (1/2 cup); butter or coconut oil (3 Tbs); 1 orange (and make juice).
2. Blend the oat, coconut, dates, almonds (or sesame) until you get crumbs. Add cold butter (or coconut oil) and the orange juice and blend it a bit more to create the dough.
3. Roll the dough into small balls and flatten onto a baking tray (use oven paper on the tray).
4. Preheat the oven to 170C, place the tray in and bake for 20 minutes.
5. Remove them when slightly brown and let them cool a bit before devouring them!
“Children have a natural affinity towards nature. Dirt, water, plants, and small animals attract and hold children’s attention for hours, days, even a lifetime.” Robin C. Moore and Herb H Wong
1. Choose a destination that you can all be excited about (forests are the ultimate home for the magical beings, but be aware that a park could also be a forest in disguise).
2. Optional: if you enjoy researching and reading, before getting to your destination, take some time to explore the magic and myths associated to some of the trees you can find in your region.
3. Once in the park or forest, organize a treasure hunt? What if pixies and fairies could be part of the treasure? There is an entire world of magic in any forest, we can assure you! You just need to be ready to see it.
4. Wander in the forest and start spotting the eyes, noses and mouths of the trees.
5. Observe which tree is catching your attention most and make it the main character of the fairy tale you are about to create … starting by ‘Once upon a time in an ancient forest ...’ . Do you know any fairy tale that does not include an ancient forest? most probably not. This is because fairy tales, nature and children form a powerful blend. As Albert Einstein used to say: “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”
Here are some very inspirational thoughts from author Jules Miller that will get you pumped to create your own fairy tale: “From toadstool rings - perfect for pixie gatherings - to the sounds of distant woodland creatures, throughout the forest nature has supplied story ideas in abundance. How about the Birch; how did this tree get its beautiful silver bark? Perhaps a greedy money-mad Queen was taught a life-lesson when a fairy turned her into a Silver Birch tree? And, what about the Weeping Willow, what’s his story? Why the tears? “
Step 6. Start Today And Keep It Simple! Organize your family reunion as soon as possible, and take it from there. Try not to over-complicate it. Take a small first step and the rest will flow, as long as, deep in your heart, you believe in the magic of Christmas and the Winter Season.
We wish you a fun, magical holiday full of deep connection with Nature and your loved ones.
Marta and Matt 18.12.2015