As we celebrate Thanksgiving this week I am always so grateful for all the blessings the Lord has given me. I always feel Thanksgiving welcomes in the coming Christmas season by preparing our hearts with gratitude and the desire to help and serve others. I love the peace, joy and happiness that is very prevalent during this time of year. In order for us to keep the peace the season brings we focus our traditions and celebrations on Christ, after all He is the reason for the season! The following are just a few ways we incorporate Christ into our Christmas traditions and celebrations.
Every year we start the season with the Christmas service star, this star represents the light of Christ and His service to His fellow men. Everyone is encouraged to serve someone in the family and leave the star where they served. The person that was served now needs to serve someone and the star is passed around throughout the Christmas season. We also have different service projects we work on each year to serve our fellow man. This year Big Woman is heading the project of making stuffed owls to take to a local shelter. Ideas for serving can be as simple as bringing in a neighbors garbage can, taking a plate of goodies to someone, visiting the elderly, sick, lonely, putting a dollar in the Salvation Army buckets, etc. One year we made a service chain by adding a link every time we served someone with a goal to have our chain reach around the Christmas tree by Christmas Eve, the kids really loved that one and we offered that as our gift to Christ.
Rather than asking our children what they want for Christmas, we ask them what they will be giving for Christmas. By doing this we put the focus on others rather than themselves. We have a tradition in our family that all gifts given to each other must be homemade. Right after Halloween they start to plot and plan what they will be making for each other. These gifts are always the favorites and much love and thought goes into them, the kids especially look forward to Daddy gifts, since he always has "interesting" ones.
I "discovered" this wonderful resource several years ago and it has become a favorite for my children. This resource is full of memory verses, activities, recipes, crafts, stories and service ideas. You will learn the stories behind the symbols of Christmas and how they relate to Christ, as well as customs from other parts of the world. I love that this is a pdf file so I can print and reprint each year. We also use this resource for our memory verses, copy work and writing during the month of December in our homeschool. For my little ones there are coloring pages and stick figures for acting out the nativity. For more information and free downloadable sample pages you can visit the Discover the Scriptures website here.
This is a new tradition we will be starting this year and I am so thankful to the Oliver family for their ideas and inspiration for this project and then for sharing it with all of us. The idea is to read a story from Christ's life for the 25 days leading up to Christmas. Each day has a story, a picture to go with the story, a quote and for some, an online video clip. After reading, listening and watching the story, an ornament representing that story is placed on the Christmas tree. My hope is that as we see these ornaments on the tree, the stories they represent will come to mind and remind us of not only Christ's birth but his life, atonement, death and resurrection. I am so excited to make this a tradition each year. Here is the website to learn more about the 25 Days of Christ.
Big Woman took on the ornament project herself, with very little help from me. We had a great time going to Hobby Lobby where we came up with different ideas for the ornaments and as a bonus all Christmas items were 50% off! You can check out the 25 Days of Christ website for photos of the ornaments (she is out of stock for the 2013 season) or browse below on the ones we came up with.
I love this description of advent, from Familyman Ministries, so I'll send you there to be enlightened if you are not familiar with advent. He also gives a good idea of what they do as a family for advent, which is more involved than mine. For our family we have a candelabra as a centerpiece on our table for the holiday season, it has four candles on the outside and one in the middle. We start the first Sunday in December (or four Sundays before Christmas) and light one candle, all other lights are turned off. We sing a Christmas song about Christ and have a story, devotional, scripture, or thought. We do this every Sunday, lighting one more candle until Christmas Eve when we light the middle candle, representing Christ. We notice how much lighter it is with all five candles lit and we always sing Silent Night on this evening (Christmas Eve).
We always have our big family get together on Christmas Eve, we have some sort of activity, listen to Christmas music, eat (or course), re-enact the Nativity and open presents from the Grandparents. When we get home we put our focus to Christ before going to bed. We turn off all the lights and do our last night of advent (above), afterwards we sit in the dark with only the tree lights on and listen to Manheim Steamroller's Silent Night, we then watch a short video of The Nativity, that you can view here and then give our gift to Christ, which we all write (or draw) on cards and place in a pretty gift box under the tree. We then read the Christmas story from the Bible and have family prayer.
I’m Annie. Welcome to my place where I share what I have learned of natural and frugal living, healthy eating, gardening, homeschooling, herbal crafting, preparing temporally and spiritually, and love for God and Country.
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