|Eli and Hannah wanted a picture together and individually|
|and Eli wanted a picture of bear too|
|and Hannah ran to her room to get lamb too =)|
This has probably been my favorite Christmas so far! Every year we create new traditions, find more and more ways to make Christmas so special as we strive to teach our little ones what Christmas is really about and KEEP to what Christmas is really about, not just making it a side note. Here are some things we've done this season...
* I never did get around to starting The Jesse Tree devotions this year. But, using an idea I got from a friend, we individually wrapped all of our Christmas story books and each night, or every other night or so, the kids got to open a book from under the tree. It's been a year since we've read them, so every night was a new surprise. We'd pull out some applications and lessons from the book, and if applicable, we'd do an activity that went along with it. Mostly we just read the books with no activity and that was fine enough. But I have already been brainstorming some ideas for next year! One of their "books" was actually a puzzle so that night we worked the puzzle together. For next year I have ideas of "unwrapping" cookie mix and making late-night cookies. Or family movies. Spread it out so there are more of those "activity nights". Such fun and definitely a highlight of this Christmas. Many nights as soon a I said, "Kids get your pjs on, then we'll unwrap a book, Carter would dash off straight to the tree and rip open the paper before we even had a chance to stop him!" LOL And many nights, there was great arguing over who was going to pick the book and who was going to open the book. Ahh, the realities... but a fun tradition regardless. =)
* For this last week heading into Christmas I've also been reading aloud The Nutcracker chapter book. 2 chapters each night and we'll finish the last one tonight, and Netflix is sending us the movie on Tuesday. It's actually a strange story, but the kids and I have really enjoyed it. Perhaps we'll read it every year? Or perhaps we'll read a different book every year? We'll see... For this year though, it was fun.
* I created this fun family board game, and we've had a great time playing again and again as we learn the real Christmas story and the meanings behind traditional Christmas symbols.
* We didn't do much with presents. We did select a few simple things for each child and a few things for the kids as a whole, but we didn't talk much about it, and gifts didn't get put under the tree until last night. They haven't spent the whole month talking about what they want, what they want, what Santa's going to bring them, and I've so appreciated that. I hadn't yet talked to the kids about getting something for each other but a couple weeks ago Eli whispered to me that he wanted to get Hannah a Barbie doll. So I helped him find one and wrap it for her, and I'm so happy for him. He's such a sweet boy. And they've been along with me as we helped choose some things for family members. But that certainly has NOT been what these weeks have been about.
* I also haven't spent all month baking and giving and baking and giving to everyone I know and love. I would love to. But that's just too BUSY for me. In most cases I find a meaningful card enough. And I'm also brainstorming a "Christmas in July/every month of the year" sort of thing regarding blessing others and their families...
* Christmas Eve I really like to watch The Nativity Story movie as a family. The kids watched it last year for the first time and Eli remembered much of what was about to come, like "Ooo, this is when the snake is to come out!" He was also thrilled to stay up late and asked often, "Is it past YOUR bedtime yet??"
Kevin's been working this weekend, so I planned many fun activities for the kids and I at home.
Shape blocks on Christmas patterns
A short lesson about Santa and Jesus, from here and here. (Brainstorming about Santa for next year. The real St. Nick didn't just give gifts at Christmas time. This was his life. Want to maybe also talk about some other people who have dedicated their lives to serving the poor.)
Book reading and coloring sheet
Tomorrow when Kevin's off work we'll celebrate as a family and open stockings and presents and have brunch and a nice dinner. We are so blessed and our hearts are full of JOY!! MERRY CHRISTMAS to all our readers!!