[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. This will be the first year we will be home on Christmas Day! Here is what we have been doing so far this month:
Devotions: Advent is where we 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 candle after moving the traveling one forward. This year, we are using a new book -- Rembrandt: The Christmas Story (it's not a daily devotional but something we can work through sporadically throughout the month).
- Read a daily Advent devotion from Advent Storybook (short with good insights!)
- Aolani colors an ornament and hangs it on our Jesse Tree
- Read together a Christmas book. I arranged and stacked all of the Christmas books we own according to our schedule. Then, I hid the stack and each day we get out the book on top.
- This year we are doing an Advent Calendar. I came up with 24 things to do, one for each day leading up to Jesus' birthday. I adjusted the calendar so that the daily activities suited our monthly plans (i.e., we baked cupcakes for Micaiah the day before his big birthday party). However, when plans change and I need to switch activities with another day, I can and have, several times already, very easily (which is great)! We've missed some, but I hope to work those in and double up some this week. The list of this year's activities are below.
- Schooling: I'm taking seven 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!
- Our Advent devotional in the evening with Daddy (depending)
- Reading Christmas Around the World at bedtime (depending)
- Decorate our home while listening to new Christmas album (Josh Garrels)
- Make paper plate wreaths
- Put together Christmas care package for missionaries
- Watch new Christmas movie under blankets (The Promise)
- Make a paper garland
- Invite family friends over to celebrate St. Nicholas Day by reading his biography and watching the Veggie Tales about him
- Make play-dough candy canes
- Make clothespin reindeer
- Make a birthday treat for Micaiah
- Micaiah’s LEGO birthday party
- Make paper snowflakes
- Make snowflake window art
- Make and decorate gingerbread cookies
- Watch Christmas movie marathon
- Pick out Jesus’ birthday gift
- Interview each family member on record
- Call grandparents and sing a Christmas carol
- Play hide & seek in a tree lot
- Make and give apple bread to our neighbors
- Act out the nativity story
- Make a pillow bed on living room floor and watch Christmas cartoons
- Go on a Christmas light scavenger hunt
- Make a birthday cake for Jesus
- Go on a prayer walk and deliver cookies
Treats: Our treats are sporadic this year again -- banana cupcakes, gingerbread cookies, pumpkin ale, apple bread, cake, ice cream, vanilla drinks, etc.
CHRISTmas joy to you in your celebrations and preparation for the coming of the King!