A couple years ago I decided I wanted to be more intentional about starting Christmas season traditions with the kids. One of the things we started doing was an Advent countdown and I got an Advent bedtime story book to read each night. Then made note cards for the countdown to tape on the wall, each one has a verse attached as well.
I decided it would be fun to do something Christmas related every day from Dec. 1 to the 25th. So I wrote on little strips of paper 25 activities and taped them to the back of our count down notecard numbers (I did it this way instead of writing directly on the cards so that I could look at the calendar and change things around on the cards as needed) Then each morning the kids would get to take down the number, flip over the card and see what Christmas activity we were going to do that day.
Here are some of the things listed (some were big and took planning, others where just something simple):
-make Christmas cookies
-make Christmas cards
-go to Festival of Lights
-read 5 Christmas books
-take a Christmas treat to Grandma
-put together homemade gifts
-make gingerbread men cookies with Nana
-go Christmas shopping
-do a Christmas craft
-write a Christmas story about giving
-sing/memorize Christmas hymns
-drink hot chocolate with marshmallows and candy canes
-have a Christmas movie & pj afternoon
-Christmas music dance party in the living room
-go to Polar Express story time
-give a gift
-acts of kindness day
Our activity count down has been something we all look forward to the past couple years.
Last year Ann Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts, released a brand new Advent book called Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas, which introduced us to the Jesse Tree. I had seen things with the Jesse Tree before but never incorporated it into our Advent stuff. So last year while reading her book each day the kids would color Jesse Tree ornaments (just something I printed from her website) and we attached them to our Jesse Tree poster. For each day Dec. 1st though the 25th the book has scripture reading, a story, a few discussion questions, and suggested family activities.
What I really love about doing things like this with the kids is that it points all the hype of the Christmas holiday season toward Jesus. We go see Santa and read stories like The Night Before Christmas, but they know those things are fiction and just something silly and fun. Above all, they know the true meaning of Christmas.
I know this is a post about Advent with your kids but I wanted to end with sharing what I did for Advent for myself last year, because the mood and atmosphere of the holiday season in your home starts with you, mama. This is something I really needed last year, I was in the midst of the grief of losing our baby (my 2nd Trimester loss) and honestly at the beginning of December I was not in the Christmas spirit at all. I wanted to pull the covers over my head and wake up when Christmas was over. I knew that sticking to what I planned to do with the kids was important, but I also knew it was going to take more than that to get me through. When I found Ann Voskamp’s children’s/family book I talked about above I also saw that she had written a devotional book, The Greatest Gift, for each day of Advent. So that is something that I woke up and read every morning in my own quiet time, it was a good way to start off each day with the right focus.
The whole Christmas season doesn’t have to be the crazy busy season that everyone makes it out to be. It can also be a time to pause, savor, appreciate, make precious memories…if we just slow down and focus on the reason for the season.
I’d love to hear about what you and your family do to keep Christ the center of your holidays.
Meet Shannon Mangicaro
I am excited to be here and get connected in this community of moms! My name is Shannon Mangicaro, I have been married to my husband for almost 13 years and as my blog name says…I am a Homeschooling mama to 6 on Earth, 2 in Heaven. Our 6 children are from 12 years down to 3 years and we lost two babies through miscarriages last year (2014). I have written a lot about the grief of the losses, but also about how God has comforted me, strengthened me, and gotten us through.
We have been homeschooling since my oldest was old enough for preschool and hope to continue through high school with all the kids! I am constantly changing what we do and learning something new, I have a passion for homeschooling and love to talk about it!
I am new to blogging and actually fought the idea of it, but back in January (about 2 months after my 2nd trimester loss) I felt God calling me to share my story in a way I couldn’t ignore, so I started my blog,http://lifewithlotsakiddos.blogspot.com, and here I am! Connect with me through Facebook as well through my blog page https://www.facebook.com/lifewithlotsakidsBLOG!