This year, after years of wanting to make an advent calendar but never having the supplies I needed to make the kind I wanted, I resolved to make one with what I had on hand. I wanted to use felt to make it easier, but I had so little: a few sheets of brown, a few of three different shades of green, one of red, and small stack of scraps of other colors. I considered making the calendar in the shape of a Christmas tree, but I couldn’t come up with a pocket arrangement that I liked. Then I remembered my velvet leaf wreath and realized that I could adapt its design to make a wreath with leaf-shaped pockets.
I started out with two rings of felt (each pieced together from large arcs cut from three felt rectangles.) I then cut the leaves following a simple template I had drawn, and arranged them on one of the rings, overlapping them slightly, always mindful that the upper portion of each leaf needed to remain open to work as a pocket. Once I found an arrangement I liked, I pinned them in place and sewed them onto the ring, beginning with the ones that were most obscured by other leaves. I also sewed a few smaller leaves to the part of the wreath partially covered by the bow, and I added red wooden beads in a few spots not covered by leaves, just because I like them.
For the numbers, I used glitter glue in those tiny tubes that are extremely frustrating to write with. My original idea was to cut numbers from red felt and stitch or glue them onto the leaves, but Pata had been after me to let her help and I wanted to find a way to include her that was more meaningful than just handing me a leaf, another leaf, a bead, a number, and so on. I thought of writing the numbers in glue and then having her sprinkle them with glitter, which I am certain would have sent her into ecstasy, but the cartoleria down the street only had glue sticks and those horrible tubes of glitter glue. By then, I had already used the remaining red felt on another project, so I had no choice. I’m not entirely happy with the result, but I don’t think that the numbers ruin the wreath, and besides, this calendar was never meant to be ideal.
Pata is very excited about beginning a new holiday tradition in our family, and so am I. For years, I despaired over N’s refusal to incorporate any of my family’s traditions into our celebration of Christmas lest they interfere with the way his family celebrates, or take any time away from them. But now I’ve finally been clever enough to realize that the Advent calendar I’d been putting off was the perfect tradition to share with Pata because it’s all done just in time for N and his family to get their way. (And that’s why the wonky numbers really don’t matter.)