When I was small, my sheep-raising Great Aunt Virginia once gave me a small, hand-made wool sheep to decorate with for the holidays. It was soft because it was made from pure lambs wool spun into the shape of a sheep's body. Black pipe cleaners formed the legs, ears and nose, and a thin red cord made a beautiful, loopy bow around its neck. Every year I loved the tradition of seeing it unpacked from the old cardboard box (with a picture of child's ice skates on the front), picking it up, possibly molding it back to shape after its long season of being stored, holding it and then carefully placing it out on display for all to see.
Eventually I grew up, and got engaged and it was time for me to (excitedly) pack my belongings in preparation for my marriage, after which I would be leaving my parent's farm and moving half way across the continent to my new home. After I had packed up what I wanted to take with me from my childhood bedroom, there were a few more things that needed to come with me when I left, and my little wool sheep made its way into one of the boxes bound for my new home.
Years later, this little sheep is still a beautiful reminder of how special this time of year was to me when I was a child and I've been placing it out amongst my pine cones and snowflakes and loving the memories that flood back each time I catch a glance of it.
As I was meandering through the Winter Farmers Market in Bellingham a couple of weeks ago, I came upon a booth selling, among other things, beautiful hand-made felted animals. There were the cutest owls and song birds, as well as a beautiful nativity scene complete with shepherds..... and sheep. As soon as I saw the sheep, I knew what to do. I brought one home with us for The Little One. It is soft felted lamb's wool, with a black face and black feet. It has a beautiful loopy bow around its neck complete with the sweetest little silver jingle bell.
I wanted The Little One to have the excitement that comes from traditions being played out year after year. To have his own little sheep to place on the mantle.