[edited version of last year's Advent post]
Simple. Focused. Intentional.
That is our motto for this time of year.
If you want bunches of ideas for celebrating Christmas, you should probably go to Pinterest. We are more about cutting out a lot of the hoopla -- going for special and memorable (yes) but simple. It is Jesus' birthday; so, we focus on Advent ("waiting with hope") and then throwing a birthday party for Jesus. Simple as that. However, we will be going to stay with extended family over the Christmas week this year. Yet, here is what we have been doing so far this month:
Devotions: Advent is where I put most of our emphasis, because what is this holy-day about if we do not prepare our hearts waiting for the Christ-child to come? You can see our Advent wreath (carved out of wood, with 24 candle holes, and there's a movable donkey carrying Mary). We light the candles after moving the traveling one forward. This year, we are using the same book we did two years ago -- Christmas Carols for a Kid's Heart (this is our third time using this devotional!). We sing a hymn, read a verse, say a little prayer, and let our kids blow out the candle. Occasionally, we read an accompanying story from The Jesus Storybook Bible (not pictured) after the singing.
- Unwrapping a Christmas book and reading it together. I wrapped all of the Christmas books we owned, plus two new ones from us and three more from family. I ordered the books according to our schedule. Each day, they alternate opening the book. After we are done reading, we put it in a "Christmas book basket". [Maybe I'll be on top of my game next year and can list all of the books we have collected thus far.]
- Our biggest activity every day has been following Truth in the Tinsel Advent (made for toddlers but Aolani and I so enjoy it!). We flip a clue (printed on paper which I numbered and hung on string), read a Scripture passage, talk about it and maybe do an activity about it, and then we make a simple/fun/easy ornament to hang (they focus on the story about Jesus' birth versus Jesse Tree ornaments that encompass the story of God's redemption plan for the world beginning with Creation.)
- We also added in a few other activities that we all enjoy -- like making snowflakes, baking treats for neighbors, snow and ice trays, candlelight baths, hide-n-seek in the tree lot, watching Christmas movies, picking out presents for Jesus...
- Schooling: I'm taking six weeks off from schooling the kids (Thanksgiving week until after the new year), so we have more time for Advent stuff and traveling. The kids are loving this winter break! [And, Aolani is reading like crazy ;)]
- However, I am taking advantage of time alone with the kids (most days) by focusing on obedience training -- stories, games, crafts, reading... We are seeing fruit in Aolani as she is already applying it (not all the time of course); and then, I cry for joy for her.
- Our Advent devotional in the evening with Daddy
- Reading Christmas Around the World at bedtime
Treats: Our treats are sporadic this year again -- apple cobbler, ginger cookies, pumpkin pie, apple cake, ice cream, vanilla drinks, coffee cake, etc.
CHRISTmas joy to you in your celebrations and preparation for the coming of the King,