christmas

More spoons of happiness!

I love Spoonville and have been happy to see more of them popping up as I go on walks around my area and from others sharing their local Spoonville images with us.

Hmmm, maybe I should create a Christmas Spoonville!

Anyway, I couldn’t resist sharing some updates of the Spoonvilles I previously posted about as they have grown somewhat in the last few weeks…

Park Spoonville

We had some major works done to the sewers in our area lately, which included trucks needing to access our local park. I thought it was very sweet that the workers moved Spoonville to another part of the park, did their work and then returned Spoonville to its original location. It was a bit more compact afterwards – just as well spoons don’t need to socially isolate!

Photos of Spoonville in a Melbourne park in 2020

Kinder Spoonville

Collection of spoons decorated as people, standing up in a kinder garden bed

Pot Spoonville

This is a new one to share, rather than an update!

Spoons decorated as people standing in a bucket on the nature strip

 

I was also going to add in an update on the laminated people Spoonville, but when I walked past this morning it was gone. Maybe the bad weather we had over the weekend destroyed it or the family took them in to protect from the weather.

How is your local Spoonville going? Can you see it growing over time?

Christmas 2020 – what will it be like?

As Victoria remains in lock down and everyone is finding their own way to manage with everything that is 2020, many thoughts are heading towards December and Christmas.

Perhaps even more than usual, Christmas 2020 is both a sign of the end of the year (something more are looking forward than usual this year!) and the start of summer, and a sign of happiness, celebration and Christmas spirit.

Large koala in Santa outfit cuddling young girl

Christmas 2020 may be somewhat isolated…

But what will Christmas 2020 be like?

Here are some changes we will probably have to accept…

  • wearing masks is likely to be recommended or required while shopping and at Christmas functions. And I dare say many a public Santa will be wearing a mask – maybe it will be a beautiful red mask with white fur straps!
  • The Santas we see in shopping centres and the like are likely to be a bit younger than we are used to – this is already being seen in the recruitment process as we protect our older citizens from the Corona virus. This may mean smaller tummies and fewer real, long beards
  • Santa photos will be different. Children may need to be near Santa rather than on his lap – maybe kids sit in a sleigh and Santa stands behind them or Santa can peek around a Christmas tree or Santa sack to where the kids are sitting.
    Some places may just not have Santa at all this year. Maybe they’ll just have props or a large Santa cut out, and more people will need to be creative with a relative dressed in a red suit or utilising virtual tools. Or maybe perspex screens, like in many shops now, could be utilised

    Santa and a girl on surf boards in a wave tunnel

    Maybe standing on surf boards is a way to have Santa physically distanced from children this year!

  • Santa photos and visits may be bookings only to enable more control of numbers and contact tracing
  • Smaller gatherings are likely – it just remains to be seen how small will be mandated. Events like the Melbourne Zoo Christmas party, Mornington Train Santa trips, Christmas pageants and parades, popular Christmas light spots, the Gingerbread Village and even Christmas markets may be banned, while work and family celebrations may be restricted. Myer has already cancelled their Melbourne windows for this year.
  • Less travelling so interstate family is less likely to visit
  • Carols by Candlelight may also be limited this year which would be very sad. The big events, like the Melbourne Carols on Christmas Eve, could still be run and televised without an audience or a small audience socially distanced.
  • Santa won’t hand out gifts to keep distance and avoid contact – maybe children can take a gift from a sleigh or a table

    Santa and elf talking to a child in a shopping centre

    Seeing Santa walk around shopping centres, talking to children and families, is something we may not see in 2020

  • Christmas shopping may be spread out more – it is likely retailers will start promotions and sales earlier this year to reduce crowds in physical stores and manage the logistics of online orders. And for us as consumers, shopping away from crowds is a wise move, too, so get those Christmas lists started!
  • We may have more access to Christmas celebrations away from home as more events are likely to be broadcast instead of pulling crowds  – for example, the Adelaide Pageant will be in the Adelaide arena at twilight and broadcast this year so the rest of Australia may be able to enjoy it this year (let’s find the positives where we can!)
  • Christmas mass and church services may have to be virtual or severely limited in terms of how many people can attend and what they can do (eg no shaking hands or communal hymn books)

 

Santa handing a gift to a boy through a window

Santa will still give gifts for Christmas 2020!

However, for anyone concerned about Santa being able to visit on Christmas Eve, rest assured that he is still expected to visit children globally. Santa has delivered gifts during previous pandemics (and more localised health problems) and there have been no cases in the North Pole. Remember, he comes in quietly and wearing gloves so maintains social distancing in every house so I have no doubt Santa will bring joy to children’s  faces this Christmas.

Having said that, maybe he will deliver fewer gifts as sourcing materials and gifts in 2020 will be harder. And perhaps Santa will want to continue the more basic

Aussie Christmas Scrabble!

Tinkles was playing scrabble this morning!

So yesterday, my son’s Christmas present from Sunday was put to use by Tinkles  and Ginger, and today my daughter’s present was in use – cheeky elves must think the presents were for them!

Aussie Scrabble is just like normal scrabble in that you have seven tiles to place as words on the board, but there are some extra cards to add an Aussie flavour – that’s as specific as I can explain as we haven’t yet played a game of it., and Tinkles hasn’t told me any additional details or rules!

Christmas elf and Lego dragon playing Aussie Scrabble

Tinkles plating Aussie Scrabble with the Lego Dragon she rode last year!

A closer look at the board, showed us some words appropriate for Christmas elves and for today, being Christmas Eve! If you can’t read them, they have made ‘Lovesanta’, ‘Tinkles’, ‘reindeer’, ‘elf’ and ‘Christmas’.

Lego Dragon and Christmas elf made Christmas words on the scrabble board

As long as Dragon knows how to spell Ginger, he can get a decent score on his next go in the game!

Children’s Christmas doors

Decorating a door adds to Christmas cheer and laughs!

I love this idea currently underway at my children’s school. Each class is decorating the outside door of their class, making the entire school look festive and happy whilst also expressing the personalities of the students themselves.

I don’t know the details, but apparently the school is doing it as a competition between classes (and resulting in some kids taking it a bit too seriously rather than in the spirit of Christmas). And then it turns out that they aren’t allowed to stick anything on the glass doors in the new classrooms so some classes decorated a large board instead!

It could be done without the competitive elements – imagine every house in your street decorating their door, or each bedroom in your house, or each office at your work, and so on! I think if I run a Christmas door activity though, I will make a home made rule like our school has so everyone has to get creative rather than buy the fanciest decoration available, and that everyone ‘inside that door’ has to contribute so it is a team effort.

While I didn’t manage to get photos of very room, I wanted to share those doors I did capture…

Foundation and Year 1 doors…

I love this ‘door’ – it is a lot of fun and I bet the kids love being elves!

More subtle than other doors, this one includes a bit of maths with all those hexagons!

Year 4 doors…

A Christmas tree in production…

Completed Christmas tree hanging on glass (so lots of reflections…)

Santa door decoration made by year 4 students

Years 5 and 6 doors …

The older students created a scene rather than each student sticking to a class image. I do think this scene is cute though!

 

Want a hit of cricket?

Cricket may well be a summer sport, but Tinkles apparently knows and enjoys the game – maybe they just play indoors at the North Pole! And let’s face it, Christmas in Australia does include cricket between backyard and beach matches and the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, so why shouldn’t our Christmas elves join in?!

Christmas elf batting at cricket

Tinkles and Tooth Elf are batting, and the babies are bowling and wicket keeping! Good to see them all playing active games today.

Both my younger children are in cricket teams this summer so they were quite pleased to find Tinkles, Tooth Elf and some others having a hit in front of the windows in the family room.

Christmas elf batting at cricket

Tinkles looks happy to bat, and I love the concentration from the Christmas-dressed baby as she wicket keeps!

 

Tinkles has a baby elf!

We have a baby elf in the house!

Baby Christmas elf in a cradle with a bottle and dummy

The children looked around the house for Tinkles this morning, then found her in front of her door. Only, this time Tinkles was not alone! Inside a cradle beside the Christmas tree, we spotted a baby elf!

She is very cute and even has a milk bottle and dummy in the cradle with her 🙂

My daughter absolutely loves babies so she is beside herself with excitement to find there is now a baby elf in our house (I have to clarify that it is a baby elf as we already have a number of her babies living with us!) She is also happy to find the baby elf on the day she transitions to a new school – I suspect Tinkles chose today to give her a confidence boost so thank you Tinkles 🙂

 

Pin the carrot…

Tinkles had found a new friend and they like playing together!

This morning we found a chopping board leaning against the couch to enable Tinkles and her new friend, Tooth Elf (this elf lives with us all the time and holds onto any fallen out teeth until the tooth fairy collects them, usually leaving a financial token in the elf’s pouch in appreciation!) to play pin the carrot nose on the snowman!

Christmas elf and tooth elf playing pin the nose on the snowman

I am feeling a bit inspired to set up some sort of pin the … games for this afternoon. We have done many variants of this game to suit birthday party themes, etc, and we’ve even done a snowman before (it was Olaf for a Frozen party). I think I will need a slightly bigger blindfold for the kids though – the ribbon suits Tinkles but the kids’ heads a little bigger!

Christmas elf playing pin the nose on the snowman

What would you call Tinkles’ game though – pin the carrot on the snowman or pin the nose on the snowman?

Building a Lego train set

You may have picked up that we are a Lego family – my son in particular loves Lego, but two of his sisters have also been keen Lego builders, and as a family we’ve enjoyed a number of Lego advent calendars. And now it turn out that our elf Tinkles is also happy to build Lego!

To their surprise, the kids found Tinkles this afternoon in the lounge room, having set herself up nicely with a red cloth (easier to spot Lego pieces there than on the carpet!) and an unopened Lego Christmas train set.

Tinkles the elf with a Lego train set box

My son is bursting to open the box himself and make it, but Tinkles can’t be touched of course so I have told him we must wait and see what Tinkles has in store for us.

Welcome back Tinkles!

Christmas must be coming as we woke this morning to find Tinkles the elf has returned to our home!

It was very exciting to find that Tinkles has her own little elf door… my nine year old was heard to say “If only Tinkles wasn’t leaning there, I’d have so opened that door by now!”

Tinkles the Christmas Elf sitting beside her door and Christmas tree!

It was very exciting to find Tinkles with her own door and Christmas tree – the kids loved the welcome mat, too! And they took turns reading the letter out loud to us all.

Tinkles sitting beside a doormat printed with 'Santa stop here!'

Close up to see the door mat in front of Tinkles’ Christmas door

We noted that the letterhead was a little different this year, and then spotted the PS from Santa “PS Tinkles was cheeky and added her photo above – did you notice?”

Letterhead of Snata and elves - with Tinkles face pasted on top!

 

Christmas at Grandad’s Farm ~ Christmas book review

Cover of Christmas at Grandad's farm

Christmas at Grandad’s farm

by Claire Saxby
Illustrated by Janine Dawson
Five Mile Press, Scoresby, 2013

Age group: early primary school

Format: 32 page hardcover

This book I spotted in an op shop during the year and have finally got around to reading and reviewing it! I recognised Saxby’s name from the ‘meet…’ series about famous and worth Australians.

The story

The children arrive at Grandad’s farm on Christmas Eve in preparation for the full family celebration on Christmas Day.

My review

The story starts with (and repeats occasionally as a chorus) “Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way” and is written in stanzas, so I found it impossible not to sing this book – I bet you have already sung some of it yourself having reading this sentence!

I loved the traditional Australian references – swimming in the creek, cramping into Grandad’s old ute, playing cricket on Christmas Day, scoffing lunch, and everyone collapsing in a stupor on the couch afterwards!

Inside pages of Christmas at Grandad's farm

As I’ve written before, it is important for children to relate to others through books and movies etc so finding a story and song that is about sunshine and BBQs rather than snow and sleds is great for those of us in the southern hemisphere! Let’s face it, it may be good for kids but I enjoy finding things that I can relate to sometimes too!

The illustrations are detailed so there is some fun finding interesting images (eg the old tyre swing).

We got this without the CD but did not miss it, especially as the Jingle Bells tune is so well known. However, hearing the entire song sung by Rusty Berther may be a fun element to add to the book – or any time you are listening to  Christmas music of course!

Would I recommend it?’ This is a lovely book, fun and fair dinkum, and although it was new to me, it felt familiar and ‘right – rhyming and fitting the Jingle Bells tune along with the Australian references, it feels like the Christmases I grew up with.

Inside pages of Christmas at Grandad's farm

A Christmas smile

“It only takes a split second to smile and forget, yet to someone that needed it, it can last a lifetime.” – Steve Maraboli

Boy in Christmas elf costume

Making someone smile makes you feel good too

“A smile costs nothing but gives much.It enriches those who receive
without making poorer those who give.
It takes by a moment,
but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.”
Unknown poet

“A warm smile is the universal language of kindness.” – William Arthur Ward

Giving smiles

I love the philosophy of If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours. It truly is a simple ting to give away but can have a huge impact on others – I know there are times when a smile from a stranger as I go for a walk has made me feel great so I try to give smiles to ‘pay it forward’.

The happier human has collected some quotes about smiles and reminds us of some smiling benefits (like lower blood pressure, strengthen relationships and reduce stress. Smiling is good!

For me, Christmas brings smiles. Not just for the fun and beauty of Christmas trees, Christmas lights and decorations, not even for the smiles on faces as people open lovely gifts, but for the spirit that often brings out the warmth and generosity of people around Christmas.

Busy people in crowded shops sometimes forget to smile, but I think this is the time we need to focus on sharing smiles and helping ease another’s day.

And maybe if the day is just too tough for you to manage a good deed Santa would be proud of, perhaps sharing a smile or two is manageable. Or maybe just getting yourself to smile will make your day a bit brighter.

This week’s smile

I have just come across a blog that has a weekly smile section. Basically, each week, people share something that has made them smile. The resulting blog post is therefore positive and encouraging, and hopefully brings more smiles. It started form a desire to find more kind, compassionate, loving and beautiful things and behaviours, which is something I admire and can fully support.The weekly smile icon

So I’d love to share smile inspiring things here – what has made you smile recently? What have you done to make others smile this week? Please let us know in the comments below, or share your Christmas story directly onto the Love Santa blog.

As for me, a few things have made me smile this week – seeing my daughter calmly prepare for exams, catching up with an old friend, working on some Christmas blog posts, and ticking off some overdue tasks. But the biggest smile this week has been from pride of watching my nine year old work on a project to help others – she has made over 30 get well cards for sick children and is contacting a local hospital to deliver the cards, some money she has fund raised and to offer the services of herself and her friends for an afternoon at the hospital.

Wishing you many smiles today and always!

Lego and Christmas

Last week I saw a 2018 Lego set of a winter village fire station at Christmas, and it got me thinking of how Lego is very much a part of many Christmases.

collage of images of Lego village fire station at Christmas

Not a key part of Brickman Cities, but a Christmas set couldn’t be missed!

Sometimes, it is used for major city displays, like the massive Christmas tree in Melbourne for Christmas 2015, Santa in his sleigh in Cardiff in 2018, the Christmas train in Cardiff this year, Brickman’s Christmas tree in Sydney in 2014 and the massive Santa in New York.

Lego Chirstmas display in Melbourne, 2015

The Lego tree in Fed Square 2015 was amazing – and very Australian!

And some people have giant Lego displays, themselves – like the 8 foot Lego advent calendar!

Lego itself produces Christmas themed Lego sets. I assume these are mostly for people keen on Christmas and Christmas displays, but lots of kids would also enjoy finding Christmas Lego under the tree on Christmas morning!

collage of Lego Christmas set images

From a Christmas village to Santa and trains, Lego has a range of Christmas kits…

Many Christmas trees around the world have Lego decorations on them, too. Whether made from generic bits of Lego, done through last year’s advent calendar or buy a specific Lego kit for an ornament.

And of course, there are the Lego advent calendars, for City, Friends, Star Wars and Harry Potter, which have given many kids pleasure and excitement throughout December.

So what’s the connection between Lego and Christmas?

We could be a little cynical and just say a corporation is commercially savvy and being part of a huge retail season, although city displays are not generally managed by Lego themselves. But maybe it’s developed over time from all those Lego boxes and sets being opened as Christmas gifts since Lego was started in 1932…

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