I love Christmas! I love the weather, I love the season and celebration, I love the feeling of Christmas...it is all WONDERFUL! I wanted to take some time to document some of our Christmas traditions and some new ones we're starting this year.
We do daily service during December. We make a list of people we want to serve and then each day we choose someone from our list and think about what we can do for them...it's not very formal, but it gives us something to work from each day and keep in the spirit of giving.
We knit hats for the homeless - The Original Pancake House in Rockville collects handmade scarves, gloves, hats, etc to give to the needy on Christmas morning. They serve Christmas breakfast to 400-500 people and on their way out the door they give them these handmade items to keep them warm. We use the Knifty Knitter so even Lillee can make hats on her own.
We stop all "school work" for the month of December. During the school year, my kids work from individual charts that we call their "Daily 5" From a list of 9 or 10 options they choose 5 to do each day. Examples of a daily 5 may be 20 minutes of literature reading, 20 minutes of math, 15 minutes of creative writing. This allows the kids the opportunity to choose what they are in the mood for rather than me forcing a schedule on them.
In December I make them a December Daily 5 that has no school work, but all Christmas focused options. For example, (1) 20 minutes knitting hats for the homeless, (2) 20 minutes building our Lego nativity (we are making a large Lego nativity this year - last year we made small, individual Lincoln Log nativities, but I wanted a larger family project this year), (3) prepare a daily service for someone outside of our home (we work from our service list mentioned above and since I have 2 kids in school we serve 2 people/families every day!), (4) personal enrichment (they have to spend 20 minutes doing something to help themselves grow in a positive direction - this could be exercise, quality reading, learning a new skill, the list is endless) and (5) Christmas music (20 minutes of practicing a Christmas song on the piano, singing or signing - the church website has some of the Children's songbook in ASL signing videos).
We also started the month off by sending presents to Jesus. We buy a dozen helium filled balloons (next year we'll do 18 so each of us can send 3 gifts...I love the symbolism and wish I had thought of it sooner!) and write our gifts to Jesus on slips of paper (we used these cute slips this year), laminate each one, punch a hole in them and tie them to the balloons.
I took pictures of our "gifts" to remind the kids (and us parents) throughout the year what we promised to do for Jesus.
We then go outside and release the balloons and the kids have a great time watching them float away.
The day after we released the balloons this year, the first thing Connor said when he woke up was, "Mommy, do you think our balloons have made it to Heaven yet?" How precious is that?
Our scripture advent will begin 12 days before Christmas.
We still have the Lego advent calendar, which isn't Christ-centered, but is fun for a family that loves Legos.
We seem to change a little bit at a time, but we're slowly getting on the path to a more Christ-centered Christmas.