January, I love you. As much as I enjoy Christmas, and love the long, extended celebration of a full Twelve Days, by the time you arrive, I am ready for a change. And you welcome me, with your fresh starts and organized, minimalistic energies. Always, in January, I am ready to simplify, sort and streamline every part of my life.
One of my first and favorite January chores is to put away my Advent cupboard and nativity sets. Rather than just stash them away, I take a few preemptive strikes to be sure they are organized and ready for next year's Advent celebration. Here's my process:
I gather together all of the characters from my six nativity scenes, and sort them into matching piles. All angels, sheep, wayfaring kings, and lowly cattle are gathered together with their counterparts from the other sets, and spread out all over my table top.
Love to see that little collection of Baby Jesuses, all chilling together in their little mangers. So cute.
Next, I grab paper and pencil and make a list that accomplishes two things.
1. Since my Advent cupboard has 25 doors, I use this list to sort out which character will be hidden in each of the 25 compartments. Generally, I start with the supporting characters and build the suspense until finally we reach the last door, to be opened on Christmas Day. Of course, all the Baby Jesuses will be revealed on that morning, since it is his birthday.
2. The characters see a lot of action during their holiday season. They are moved here and there, handled by guests, and often used for play by my younger friends. Inevitably, a few go rouge. So this list also serves as an inventory of all my characters, so I can be sure to either track down or replace any missing or broken pieces.
Then, when I've accounted for every piece and decided which characters will be hidden behind each door, I simply gather them up and tuck them into the cupboard. It's fun to place each group of characters together in their own little space, like these sweet sheep hiding behind Door Number Three.
For the next eleven months, I will walk past that cupboard full of secrets, wrapped up in its plastic cocoon and quietly awaiting the turn of the year. And when Advent finally arrives, I will simply lift it down, open it up, and know that every piece is exactly where it needs to be for a new celebration.
And then I will thank you, January, for inspiring this lovely piece of organization.