Oh dear – how quickly this has come around – I have been so busy doing things for Christmas I forgot I was going to blog about it!
We decorated the house – I love my Christmas decorations – the tree, my nativity, angels on the walls, a big red wreath (which I love so much I left it up all year!!).
We have had our Christmas Party – which is really a Thanksgiving/Tree Decking Party. This year we made a little gift (a tree ornament / angel) for each family who came. We would like to make this a tradition for future parties. Read more about this night…
We were involved in the combined Churches Christmas Carols by Candlelight. Peter, Jess and I did balloon sculptures for the kids, Josh helped with the organized games and he video taped the evening, the girls were in the choir and Daniel joined them for one item at the beginning. Read more here …
This year for our focus heart study we have been reading a selection of Christmas storybooks and discussing those. Our favourite so far has been An Angel’s Story by Max Lucado though we are also enjoying A Case for Christmas my Lee Strobel. Read more about our Read Aloud times.
In the past we have helped out the Salvation Army with their hampers for the needy. We’ve gone shopping and helped bundle each hamper up. This year we were hoping to get some handmade angel into each hamper but the staff from Coles donated and organized the hampers this year so that was a big blessing for the staff at the Salvation Army. We are going to go shopping this week for some food items to donate to another organization who is doing the similar thing.
We have two precious traditions that we hold very close to for Christmas morning.
First, that we read the Christmas Story before we open any presents. I always liked the idea of reading it straight from scripture but when our children were little we started to read it from a picture book we felt was true representation and the children are connected to that book as a part of our tradition so we continue to read from a picture book with the idea that maybe one day we will switch over to the Bible.
Second is that we open one present at a time. Each family member will join in the joy of their sibling/child receiving a gift. We allow enough time for that person to really enjoy the gift (even to the extent of stopping the present parade altogether and setting up a new toy) and to say thank you to the giver. If family from afar (all our family live afar!) phone then we stop opening presents until we can all be together again. This means that it takes a long time to open presents, some years we have even opened presents the next day. But to join in the joy with each person, to appreciate people’s thoughtfulness is worth it!
A collection of resources I have used over the years is listed here.
It is very easy to get swamped during December. We have two conflicting thoughts going through our heads – One, it is nearly Christmas and I want our family to make memories and enjoy each other. Two, it is nearly the end of the year and I can see how much we haven’t done so we should be catching up! I have stopped to see some of the writing opportunities our children have over the Christmas time to keep their hand in – see this link.
kids love acting out the Nativity story –
especially if Dad will be the donkey!!
Last but certainly, not least, is how do I work towards keeping Christ in Christmas. This year I wrote a small ebook on The Heart, Mind and Soul of Christmas – Is Christ the center of your Christmas?. and link to worksheets. It is important that each family knows not only how they are going to celebrate but why. My ebook is free to download for 2007!
Christ is woven into our lives that even while we wade through the commercialisation of Christmas we are aware of the real reason for this celebration. But…. human as we are I have had two things to help me focus.
1. My Christmas motto – Keep your spirit gentle, keep your house peaceful and keep your heart full of love – this has helped me keep my heart in the right place as I work towards being "ready" for Christmas. Read previous post
2. Family Read Alouds / Devotions – having a daily time where we are gathering together, regardless of the hustle and bustle of the time of year, to read a story that has made us consider Jesus.
There are so many ways to be intentional about celebrating Jesus this Christmas. It is exciting to read of the many different ways families are discovering how to do this and building these things into their family life.
as they open their home to you (via their blog) this Christmas.