This year, for some reason feels like a new beginning for me - for the first time, our entire little family (well...big family) will be together for Christmas, and I feel like I've got to start our family's traditions right now, this year. In the past, i have always felt like our Christmas activities were piecemealed together, and really had no bigger meaning, or that we were always rushing to get things done, but this year feels different. Let me explain what I mean.
1. The Christmas List. I have spoken a few time about this in the past, so I won't spend a lot of time on it now. Each child fills out a list of 5 items as follows,
1. I will read...
2. I will wear...
3. I need...
4. I want...
5. I will give...(a toy, or a charitable act)
2. Family-Time Advent Calendar. This is something we JUST started this year, and I am incredibly happy with the results. Rather than counting down until Christmas with little toys or candies, I scavenged the house for Christmas themed books and dvd's, family games, and a few Christmas activities that we have enjoyed in the past (baking cookies, cutting out snowflake ornaments, making handprint ornaments that we give as gifts, loading up in the car and going to look at Christmas lights etc.) It's amazing how many Christmas themed books and dvd's we have! I wrapped each item, so the boys open 1 present a day (we have to alternate who gets to open the present), and then we all, as a family, participate in the activity. The big boys love it, and I love the family time! Of course when Ethan opened the first few items, he was a little disappointed because "we already ha[ve] this, mom," but he eventually figured out that it wasn't about the gift, it was about the time we spend together. Now, this is the part I am REALLY excited about. On December 24th, we are all going to open our Christmas Eve present (pajamas), we are going to read Little Critter's The NIght Before Christmas by Mercer Mayer, but AFTER that, we will be reading the Christmas Story from the Bible. I ordered off of Etsy, a VERY kid friendly nativity (painted wooden characters), and I'm going to have the boys place the characters in the manger while we read the story...every year.
What I love about our Family Advent Calendar is that it organizes everything that we love doing at Christmas. It makes it manageable, and it creates some pretty great family time, AND it focuses our attention on giving, and on Jesus.
1. Southern style holidays with family and friends!
2. New traditions with family time incorporated!
3. Knowing the Joy of the Season, and having it in my heart.
and one more just bcause there is a ;ot to be thankful for:
4. Girl time with my mom!