Sunday, December 2, 2012

december {traditions}

I know I'm not the only one out there thinking "how is it December already?".  This fall has flown by!  And seeing as we are still in tank tops and flip flops over here, it just doesn't seem possible that it is almost Christmas!

I have been anticipating this month all year long.  I love the celebration of advent and I spend time throughout the year thinking on it.  This year, I had the privilege of writing a small advent devotion for the children in our church.  It was such a wonderful process and I'm so thankful for the chance!

I have learned so much about different Christmas traditions through blogs, but I always seem to find out the day after something had been celebrated (the nature of blogging of course!).  I thought I'd give a quick run down of what we traditionally do around here, just in case anyone is looking to implement something new this year.

Oh, where do I begin?  When we first began observing advent as a family five years ago, my world shifted.  Christmas no longer jumped out at me from no where.  Nope.  We were walking the road to Christmas slowly.  Anticipating the celebration of the birth of our Savior.  Advent means "coming".  The coming of the Christ child, but also the return of the Messiah.  Advent has breathed life into our family and opened our eyes to the true beauty of the season.  {If you would like to celebrate, but are unsure where to start, leave me your email address in the comments.  I'll shoot you a copy of the material I wrote this year.}

St. Nicholas day-
This week we observe St. Nicholas day on December 6.  I finally remembered to order a book on St. Nicholas to share with the children on the eve of St. Nicholas day.  Only took me three years to remember!  To celebrate, Moonpie and Buddy leave out wooden shoes the night before to be filled with sweet treats from St. Nicholas.  This year we will be doing some sort of service project the day of- in the spirit of the real St. Nicholas!  He had a generous heart that reflected the love of His heavenly father.  It is such a beautiful story to share.

Jesse Tree-
I haven't quite decided if we are going to do a full on Jesse Tree this year, or opt for readings out of the Jesus Storybook Bible.  We will have a family meeting in the morning to decide!  Here are some resources we have used and loved:

Holy Experience- we did this one last year.  It was beautiful, and heady.  I think it would be great with older children.

Kimberlee Conway Ireton's devotion- we have done this one several times.  It is short and accessible.  The content is great.  The link will take you to her blog, the devo is on the side tab.

Advent with the Jesus Storybook- this is the one our church passed out along with the devotion I wrote.  I am thinking very seriously about using it and then having the children create an ornament to go along with it for the Jesse Tree.

Winter solstice (December 21) refers to the first day of winter.  Every year we like to observe the solstice with a fire in the backyard and s'mores!  We celebrate the return of the light (the days getting longer) and talk about how that points to Jesus.  He is the light of the world, dispelling the darkness!  We then come in and the kids open their solstice gifts- warm, mama made pajama bottoms and a new book each.   We snuggle up in our pj's with mugs of hot chocolate and read our new books.  It is a lovely evening.

And of course- Christmas!
We celebrate at home with a few gifts each and hand made sibling gifts.  This is the calm before the storm!  We have four sets of grandparents, and four different Christmas gatherings to enjoy!  

One more extra special thing we do this month is a weekly, family movie night.  Every Thursday we watch a Christmas movie with popcorn and hot chocolate.  This is one of our favorite things to do this month.  The kids are already making their movie list!  First up?  Elf!

Please share- what are some traditions you all partake in this time of year?  I'd love to hear!


Rosie_Kate said...

Jonah is right at this moment waiting impatiently to start putting up our Advent decorations. I put up some Christmasy things, but not everything (we add to it throughout the season). We'll set up the stable for the nativity scene. This is the first year we've had one, so we'll see how it'll work-- I'm thinking maybe we'll set some of the figures off somewhere "on their way". We like advent calendars and usually have several different varieties. I still want to get an Advent wreath where we light a new candle each week. Our church has special services for Advent on Wednesday evenings, as well as a Christmas Eve program where the kids recite their verses, and a Christmas Day service. And then there's Epiphany on Jan. 6 when the wise men came! I like to not "use up" Christmas during Advent so that we can really enjoy Christmas until Epiphany. This year we want to add in St. Nicholas' Day, but we haven't decided what to do yet...

Kim Corrigan-Oliver said...

It all sounds so lovely. We will celebrate Advent, St. Nicholas Day, Winter Solstice and Christmas in our home this year. We have already done our winter nature table and today got our tree.

We walk in the slow lane too as far as the holiday season goes, it's the way we like it.

Enjoy the season.

Traci said...

Oh Mandi! You are so generous! Thank you for sharing so much with us, the world! I just now linked the Jesus Storybook Bible Advent for Nov. 2013 so I can prepare it. I love to count down and the children are addicted to that part. Our dear friend went to heaven home, her body ravaged with cancer, on Nov. 12th. We enjoyed a three year friendship of grace and true contentment in her eternal salvation. She gave us the Collector's edition of the JSB for Donovan's birth. What a treasure! I posted it on FB to share when we completed the book last week. Love it. The art! The narrator on cd! The way it is written! I am going to do a take on the winter solstice as I love nature study too and have not used the winter solstice time or recognized it. We have a chimenea and we have pajamas that I bougth instead of made for this year and love the idea of a good book. What do you read to teach about winter solstice? Should I consult soulemama? oh, on post about cuddling in? she knows!