By: Martianne Stanger
Last year, as a part of my children and my Alphabet of Advent fun, we read Night Tree by Eve Bunting and then decorated an evergreen in our cul de sac for the animals.
Although I have been making animal-treat ornaments with my children for years, doing so in conjunction with Bunting’s picture book made the activity extra appealing for my bibliophile kiddoes and we are looking forward to repeating the experience again this year once the book comes in at the library for us.
Last year, we had an unseasonably warm day for animal-ornament making, so we took advantage of the weather and began making traditional peanut butter-seed ornaments on our front lawn.
After we put these on the tree in the cul de sac, the children wanted to leave some seed on the ground for creatures without wings. So, they carefully carried the tray over near the tree and, then together on “one-two-three,” tossed the seed from it to the ground.
After this, I had intended to move onto making other sorts of animal treat garlands and ornaments with the kids, but they had other plans. They wanted to tromp into the woods to keep working on lean-to’s that they had begun on another day as homes for homeless animals to find once the snow began.
Part of me was reluctant to abbreviate animal treat making in order to accommodate the kids’ wishes. At five and four, I felt my older two were dexterous enough to make apple slice ornaments, orange spirals and popcorn, bean and cranberry garlands. I wanted to persist in making these. The children, on the other hand, were more interest in lean-to building, so off we went…
The experience quickly affirmed that following their plan, not mine, was the right choice for the day! No matter how extravagantly decorated the tree on the cul de sac might have looked if we had continued to make different styles of ornaments, it could have never compared to the beauty of the kids’ smiles as they finished their animal hut.
There are many years ahead for creative animal ornament making, but beaming grins from joy-and-pride filled children? Those are precious and fleeting.
What will you do this season to inspire such smiles?