Category Archives: Holiday Traditions

Week 4 of Advent Printables!

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Week 4 of Advent Printables!

If you missed weeks one, two, or three, feel free to click on the links to catch up!

Our last week is a short one: only 3 days of coloring pages! On the last day, Christmas, I hope you all will join me in reading Luke 2 with our families to celebrate Jesus’ birth.
I also skipped the activities, music, and art altogether, because if you are like me, you are doing a TON of last minute gift wrapping, shopping, and/or other activities! Enjoy these last few coloring pages, and the blog will return to regular programming in the New Year. That being said, I do have another exciting project in the works for the future, but one I will take a LOT more care and time creating. Perhaps I will try my hand at an E-book or curriculum package. Time will tell.
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Without further ado: The coloring pages.

Day 22-Dec 22
Day 23-Dec 23
Day 24- Dec 24
Day 25- Dec 25 – Read Luke 2 aloud with your family, using your own nativity figurines as players on the stage! Get the kids involved, give everyone a character to act out as you read aloud (and hopefully they are able to recite with you!)

Before we all dive into the last few days of our Christmas prep, I want to end this series with this thought: Slow down a minute and think about Christ’s incarnation, and how this is an integral part of the gospel. How does this affect me today? My children? I know this horse has been beaten dead, but what are we doing as we celebrate Christmas? Every day I am reminded by what my children see as my priorities by what comes out of their mouths. “From the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” I am giving an example to my children on what Christmas should be focused on. Enjoy this Holiday with your children for what it truly is.
Peace on Earth is a phrase so overused by everyone without much meaning, but it is  beginning to have a different meaning for me now. At some point it was an ambiguous thought. But it is not any more. Peace on Earth? How can that be possible this Christmas when it seems as if our world is changing its ideas of peace, love, joy, hope, and Jesus? Christ did not come to institute an earthly Kingdom *right now* he came to save that which was lost. This does not mean he is not King (He is!) or that he can’t have a material change on the world around us (He can!) But it does mean that the peace on earth begins with the gospel. Because without the gospel, we have no peace. The Holy Spirit brings about regeneration in men’s hearts, and changes men’s lives, and through this, we can see “Peace on earth, goodwill to men.”
Remember too, that God has the power to bring this about, and he did 2000 years ago, starting with one small baby in his Mother’s womb. I am encouraged by the account in Luke 1 of Mary’s submission to some very scary circumstances, that only got harder as she became older. I am amazed by God’s planning and working, even while Jesus was yet in the womb. I am blown away by how God prepared the way for Jesus, using John the Baptist, giving him the Holy Spirit while he was even yet in the womb (Luke 1:15.) God can and will accomplish all his Holy Will, and this Christmas, I am remembering how he did that very thing 2000 years ago, is doing it today, and will accomplish all his holy will tomorrow as well. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Take comfort in the beauty of the incarnation, Christ becoming sin for us, who knew no sin, and taking upon him our own sins. Peace comes when we recognize God’s Sovereignty, his plan, and  submit to it. From our own hearts, to training and preparing our children as well. Keep it up Dear Mama, God can accomplish all his holy will!

Merry Christmas!

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Advent Free Printables Week 3

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Hey all and welcome to week three! If you missed week 1 and week 2 of our Luke 2 Advent coloring pages, feel free to check them out!

This week was really my favorite to draw because this is where we get to the meat of the story, the angels telling the Shepherds, the Shepherds becoming the very first to not only see Jesus, but also to tell others about him. Their response isn’t just overwhelming personally, but something they can’t HELP sharing! Also, the response of those who hear the story. It doesn’t say whether they all immediately fall down and worship him, or acknowledge the truth of the story by passing it on, etc. This account simply states: “They wondered at what they had heard.” The hardest part of passing on what we know about God’s plan for mankind, and about a proper response to his Word, is knowing that we might only see wonder. Perhaps joyful wonder, maybe incredulous wonder, or perhaps, sneering wonder. We’ll see the wonder! But as Paul wrote: “I planted, Apollos watered, but GOD gave the increase!”

Remember, as we get into the thick of this season, dear Mama, and as we have chances a plenty to not only tell our little ones about this precious story of incarnation, and the Word becoming flesh, but to tell others too, remember that we can’t always see what happens once that wonder wears off. We can’t guarantee that our declaration of Christ’s gift will end the way we imagine, and that that soul will come to know Christ, but we can know that God will accomplish his plan.

Enjoy!
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Music Content: Hymn study- O Come O Come Emmanuel

Art Content:
This painting is by Cima da Conegliano (1459-1517)
Cima Painting
The Coloring Pages:
Day 15- Dec 15,  Luke 2:13

Day 16- Dec 16, Luke 2:14

Day 17- Dec 17, Luke 2:15

Day 18- Dec 18, Luke 2:16

Day 19- Dec 19, Luke 2:17

Day 20- Dec 20, Luke 2:18

Day 21- Dec 21, Review: Luke 2:13-18

Craft:
As we get closer, and our time is filled with parties, wrapping gifts, last minute shopping, and lots of other fun, I’ll trim down the crafts. I’m including one recipe, and one craft this week.

This week’s craft is fun, but involved. I was able to do it with my 2 yo, 4 yo, and 6 yo, but there was a lot of supervision and obedience required. Everyone had to be careful of hot items, and obey limits, rules, and boundaries.
That being said, it was a wonderful exercise in trust, patience, and obedience. And, it makes a great gift for anyone.


Sand Candles:
Materials:
(Easily found at Hobby Lobby, A.C. Moore, or Michael’s. I bought all these materials using a coupon for less than $15. We made enough candles to give to all on our Christmas List.)

Wicks
Wax Block
Scent Oil
Glitter
Seashells

Instructions:
 Fill a deep box full of sand. Using a cup, press into the sand to make cup shaped indentations. Make them as deep as you wish your candle to be.  Press the wick down into the bottom of the indentations. Into the sand of the indentation, press seashells, or sprinkle glitter etc. Pour hot wax into the indentation. (melt wax using a double boiler, or if you don’t have one, use the redneck version: a metal mixing bowl placed on top of a pot of boiling water.) Allow to cool until wax is hard. Pull candles out of sand, dust sand off, and Voila!

Recipe:

Edible Glitter Berries

I found the original on an Australian website, but the measurements were ahem… Australian, and so I adapted the recipe to my American tastes, and measurements.

1 Clam Shell of Strawberries
1 pack of white chocolate melts
1 container of green sugar sprinkles (the sparkly crystal kind.)

Melt white chocolate in mocrowave. Using short increments, stir in between until chocolate is fully melted. Place sprinkles in bowl for dipping.

Dip berries in chocolate. Dip berries/white chocolate in crystal sprinkles. Place on wax paper in fridge to cool and harden.  (Approx. 15 minutes.)

Advent Free Printables Week 2

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Advent Free Printables Week 2

This week may differ a bit from last. Last week was a LOT of Advent activities. This week will focus on just a few, all laid out here. And of course, the Free Printable Pages.  Enjoy! Did you miss week one? That’s ok! Check it out here.

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There is one activity that I KNOW is a lot of fun for this age! Making your very own salt dough ornaments. I stretched it out over DAYS, and it suited a week of “Christmas time” for me. By the time week 2 of Advent rolls around we have parties and meet ups and play dates galore! Something about this time of year lends itself to overwhelming activities. So when it comes to throwing yourself into Advent things to do, this week will be noticeably quieter than last. But the most important part: scripture memorization, is still front and center.

Music contentA beautiful cantata written by Bach. Complete with translations and a bit of backstory in the video description.

Art content: Norman Rockwell is one of my favorite artists, and he has a plethora of beautiful Christmas Artwork. The one linked here is adorable, but a warning, if you do a subsequent google search of Mr. Rockwell’s Christmas Art, be prepared for a lot of typical American Christmas fare, a lot of Santa Claus, Tree trimming, and gift giving. If this isn’t your scene, this one artwork in particular is pretty tame, but if it is, I highly recommend a good stretch at google with your wee ones snuggled in. Lots of laughs to be had, since Mr. Rockwell’s sense of humor shines in his art.

The Coloring Pages:

Day 8- Dec 8 Luke 2:7

Day 9- Dec 9 Luke 2:8

Day 10-Dec 10 Luke 2:9

Day 11- Dec 11 Luke 2:10

Day 12- Dec 12 Luke 2:11

Day 13- Dec 13 Luke 2:12

Day 14- Dec 14 Review: Luke 2:7-12

Now for the activity for this week: Salt Dough Ornaments. We tried these in our house, and it took us almost a full week to do them. We spent one day making the dough, rolling, cutting, and baking it.
The next day, we painted it. It took a lot longer to dry.

We finished out our “gift preparation” week with shopping at A.C. Moore for small wood crafts, and a few acrylic paints and glitter. Using a coupon, all told, it set us back less than $10 for the children to buy and make gifts for one another. Each day, a different child had “time alone with Mommy” painting her set of gifts for the other children. This took me the whole rest of the week. But the anticipation was palpable, and the fun of helping each child prepare, incomparable.

This year, our oldest, who is 7, will sew doll pillows for her sisters. The other two will buy the woodcrafts (with their own money) and use leftovers from last year’s paint and glitter. Hence why this is a “dry spell” for activities this week. I highly recommend a visit to your local Hobby Lobby or other such store.

An Announcement!

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An Announcement!

I was completely overwhelmed by the response for the Reformation Day Coloring Book Printable. I have to admit to being so overwhelmed I haven’t posted since, mostly because, how DO you follow that up? So many people downloaded it, and I did NOT expect that!  I was honored and completely blown away.
But today I saw something on another blog, a free unit study, that got my juices flowing! It wasn’t at all related to the subject matter I am considering tackling, but it occurred to me, that printable pages aren’t the only thing I can share with you! I can share a lot of the things my children and I do! Hopefully you find it as useful/fun as we do!

Thanksgiving tends to center around one week, and is mostly tangible activities, baking pies, cooking foods, gathering to thank God, and enjoy one another’s company. It is such a family centered Holiday, that most of the reading/writing etc that my children do is directly recipe related. I tend to drop my computer around this time. I won’t be doing any online activities for Thanksgiving, not because it isn’t a big Holiday in our home, (it IS!) but because we don’t do that kind of celebrating around here. Thanksgiving is about relating, praying, thanking. It isn’t about coloring, reading, etc. I enjoy it best working, using a rolling pin, mixing a batter, tasting something together, wiping flour covered cupboards down in a rush before the guests come! Then, the coma in an armchair, snuggling and napping. Thanksgiving is quiet reflection in the rewards of hard work, and the blessings God provides in that medium.

Christmas on the other hand… It is a WHOLE month around here! We celebrate it from the time we get up on Black Friday until sometime late January! Ok… more than a month? But we don’t do the shopping, the lists, etc. We try to center it around 2 things, Christ, and showing love to one another. We try to do activities that benefit those around us. (Food drives, donating clothing, etc.) We spend a large amount of time painting, sewing, baking, making gifts for one another. There is a lot of quiet down time with a cup of tea or cocoa in hand. Plenty of time to color and relax in between the parties, and singing, and time just to sit around the fire together, feeling warm. Coloring, now that happens during this season!
So without further ado, I announce that I am going to make a free Advent Printable! We like our Christmas to be Christ Centered, and I am often dismayed by the amount of Santa and gift centric coloring books that are all over the place. I want my children to focus on the most important part of the season. Jesus.

I have many fond memories of when I was a child, and my parents had similar goals in celebrating Christmas. My Mother had us memorize Luke 2. Every Christmas morning, we would gather around the nativity, and recite it together, each of us (there were 6!) taking on a particular character, or group of characters, and reciting that precious passage of scripture and acting it out. MANY fond memories center around this tradition.


So this printable will have the goal of within one month (during Advent), teaching your child how to memorize a large passage, such as Luke 2. It will be geared to the younger group as well, ages 2-7. There may be optional activities for Moms to use. I am not sure how this will be posted, my thought it is may be posted one day at a time, or one week at a time, so you can print out a week ahead of time, and plan on having the materials for the activities on hand. Many of the activities will contain a measure of my own childhood memories, and what I wish to pass on to my children.

Let me know if you’d be interested in this activity, and how you’d prefer to see it made available to you. I will be making it anyway, even if there is no feedback, if only for my children. I am not crazy about candy centered Advent calenders, or a series of unrelated and non-chronological scripture readings. I want to make something that will give them a lifetime of perspective on Christmas. Something they will carry forever. Luke 2 is an excellent way to do that.  I will never forget the memories, year after year, of reciting that passage.

Reformation Day! (Free Printable Coloring Book: Ages 2-5)

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Reformation Day! (Free Printable Coloring Book: Ages 2-5)

As Halloween sneaks up on us, my blogosphere and facebook are erupting with different takes on how families are choosing to meet this Holiday. Some are abstaining entirely. Some are “taking it back” and some are saying: “It is just harmless fun, we just skip the scary costumes.”
Here is a peek into our home; we don’t really celebrate Halloween, we are in a culture saturated by it, and so our children are exposed to it, but not intentionally. My personal take on Halloween is that it is a holiday that glorifies death, sin, and gore, and no matter of cute costumes can take that away. I’m not a fan of it, and our children do not trick or treat.
When it comes down to it, my 7 year old stated our thinking well:
“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7, ESV)
I LOVE that her response to things that scared her, and gave her pause was to quote scripture. I know that we will be looking into the context of that verse, because as great as that little soundbyte is, the verses surrounding it are rich with wisdom and truth as well.
We choose to respond to our culture’s celebration of death and sin with love and self control. I don’t think it is about one or more things we do to abstain from Halloween, so much as it is how we react to it internally. Do we respond with the power of truth, with Christ’s love, and do we use self control?  Halloween is a time where we have an ability to share the gospel more often, and to be a witness with each person who asks the children:
“What will you wear for trick or treat?”
The way we often are able to do that is usually more than a bit amusing as well. I have to admit that watching my children learn to speak of their faith is a sweet experience that has all the more ability to catch folks off guard by the earnestness and sincerity of how they speak.
Take the dentist’s office on Monday:
Hygienist: So, what are you wearing for your costume for Halloween?
Emma: Oh I don’t wear a costume for Halloween. I get to be a Princess every DAY!
Hygienist: (confused) Oh, you don’t celebrate Halloween? I’m sorry…
Emma: No, we don’t celebrate Halloween, we celebrate REFORMATION DAY! And we have a FEAST! And we talk about Marfin Lufer. *giggles*

This usually leads into a discussion from all of the children on who “Marfin Lufer” is and why the Reformation was important, with the adult looking on curiously. If the opportunity arises, it can become a really interesting way to spread the gospel. If the person is a christian, it can become a thought provoking discussion. This is one of those cases where we are “ready with an answer” and we let the Holy Spirit do the rest.

So, however you choose to celebrate this controversial holiday, this post will serve to introduce you (or your littles, more accurately!) to another Holiday, one that is entirely overshadowed by Halloween.

Reformation Day!
A bunch of ladies on facebook were having a discussion one day, and we all lamented the lack of material for littles (2-5 years old) to educate them on Reformation Day. So, being the DIY homeschooler that I am, I got to work making material!
But, being the impetuous impulsive seat of the pants woman that I am, I gave myself only a few days to do it, in between diaper changes, nursing sessions, meal prep and clean up, and a really awful cut from the food processor. (it fought back, and I lost.) Making this group of coloring pages and the corresponding read aloud text for Mamas was a fun experience for me.  I didn’t get to make as many pages as I would have liked. Nor did I have the option to make it quite in the form I’d hoped. I am hoping it can still be useful!
Without further ado:
The FREE Printable History of Martin Luther and Reformation Day Coloring Pages for 2-5 year olds!
(Don’t mind the unwieldy title…)
MARFINLUFERClick to Download and Print (in chronological order):
Martin Luther Learns Page 1
Martin Luther And His Horse Page 2
Martin Luther Becomes a Monk Page 3
Martin studies the Bible Page 4  
God’s Plan Page 5
Man counting money Page 6
Nailing ThesesPage 7
To the Glory of God The End Page 8

Feel free to let me know if this content was useful for you!

Happy Reformation Day!

How to: Plan An Inexpensive Vacation and Day Trip

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My husband isn’t big onimages vacation. So not big that he has racked up days and days and days and DAYS of vacation and sick time. It is amazing how much time he has. But, being the man he is, and the man I love,we end up doing a lot of “staycations” with a day trip or two thrown in. We try to keep them as expense free as possible, but every now and then we splurge on a really awesome opportunity for learning, like a day in Philly, or, eventually, a day trip to NYC.  Our day trip this year is *fanfare please* 4th of July in Gettysburg! This will be our *entire* summer vacation budget all for this one day trip, because it is so special!
When I was a teenager, I used to think I lived in the most boring state ever.  (Why couldn’t we live in say… South Dakota? Where Laura Ingalls lived? HER life was exciting!) As a homeschooling Mom, I am glad we live in a history rich state that has MANY ways and places that my children can touch history for relatively little expense. Gettysburg is one of them. I am thrilled to pieces to go see the biggest re-enactment yet for the 150th anniversary of this turning point battle.

But, we have a budget. And a tight one at that. For the entire day, for our family of 6, we have to spend less than $150. Now I know that sounds like a lot on first blush, but we’ve reduced the costs by:

  1. Avoiding an overnight stay (Could easily cost us over $100-200 per night during this high traffic week.)
  2. Making our own food. (Could cost us more than $15-$30 per family meal eaten at a restaurant, or on the grounds. That is a total of $60-$90 or more for food in one day alone. Not counting drinks or snacks.)
  3. Driving our own van (we considered going with Vision Forum, but it would cost $65 per adult, including Gettysburg tickets, but we would still have to meet the bus in Harrisburg, which would cost us roughly $40 in fuel round trip. The total for that is roughly $190.)

This is a day trip that will *be* the highlight of a “staycation.” When you consider the costs of a vacation for a family of 6 for a whole week, or even a not so DIY version of just this day trip, this is a steal! We also “reduce” costs by NOT using our family budget to pay for this. How do we do that? I have a few jobs on the side (Lilla Rose, House Cleaning, and Rental Property Management.) While we plan for a trip like this, we stow away a little bit of money with each earning, and save it up until we meet our budget goals. Not all of it though, some of it gets saved or used for other needs, and 10% must go to tithe.

Here is a break down of how we will meet our budget:

Fuel: The trip to and from Gettysburg is roughly 232 miles. Our minivan gets a respectable 18-20 highway. So we’re looking at roughly $45-$50 in fuel.
Tickets: Tickets to Gettysburg re-enactments cost $35 per person, per day. Children 6 and under are free. So tickets will cost $70.

Food: This leaves us with $30 for food  and drinks for 6 for an entire day. Breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack/dessert.
How can we get that much food for that little money? Impossible on the grounds, but they do allow you to keep things in your car. Food, drinks, etc. So we’re planning on packing!

Drinks: We are packing a cooler full of home made gatorade. For 5 gallons, that is roughly $3. ($1.50 for the sugar, and a little over a $1.00 for flavor packets. The rest pays for the salt and filtered water.) Also packing full water bottles.
Total: $3.00
Snacks: I am baking a boatload of things. Baking bread costs me roughly $2.0o a batch. This yields 3 large loaves.  I will be using $3.00 worth of flour and sugar, free frozen organic apples, and $1.00 worth of blueberries to bake muffins, scones, and possibly an apple crisp type deal. Add in $2.00 for butter, eggs, and milk.
Total: $6.00
Main meals: I will probably bring along a jar of jelly, and a jar of Peanut Butter. That will be roughly $3. Combined with one loaf of the bread, that’ll be lunch.  Supper might be a loaf of the bread with $5 in lunchmeat and cheese. Breakfast will be a portion of the snacks.
Total: $8.00
Incidentals: Fresh organic veggies to munch on, green beans, peas, cherry tomatoes, all free and fresh from our backyard garden! Same goes for some strawberries. Apples, and some other munchies, like bananas and other fruits to munch on, will probably come to $3.
Total: $3.00faq3

Unless we feel the need to do anything else for food, which I can always bake or harvest more, it will cost us a total of $20.00 for food. That leaves us with $10.00 in our pocket in case of minor emergencies, or for price fluctuation. Not bad for a daytrip for a family of 6. It would cost us so much more to go on vacation for a week. This is the perfect “staycation” finale!

Happy 4th of July!

Christmas Thoughts

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As we have been re-evaluating oSacks Family Christmas 2012ur home life, our family choices, and changing bit by bit over the past few years, not one tradition has gone untouched. Everything we do in life is an expression of our beliefs, and our trust in God. Everything has to be held to God’s standard, which we learn from The Bible.  Holidays are just one aspect of that.
Christmas is one of the BIG Holidays and has always been one of my favorites.  I noticed, as I grew older, that Christmas became an empty expression of a meaningless feeling. Getting together with family was nice, but not enough. The gifts were lovely, for a short time. But it was an empty day, with little true substance.  When I was teaching at a local daycare (for 6 years!) I overheard, and knew many parents spoke of the “magic” of Christmas, and how they tried to keep that alive as long as they could for their little ones, via Santa. I am not adverse to the Jolly Old Elf. But I’m not a big fan either.

At that time, as we became parents, it was decided that due to my husband’s feelings regarding Santa, and how his upbringing falls into that, he didn’t wish to “do” Santa. I grew up without Santa, and so I was ok with that. Who wants to lie to their kids anyway? If it is a lie, and the magic fades, then all you are left with is this: “What else are my parents lying to me about?!” So we went the truthful route. It was a simple, There was a guy, his name was St. Nicholas, he helped folks, and now everyone pretends he’s still alive, and they call him Santa… Oh, and somewhere along the way he became omniscient, got Reindeer with glowing snouts, and a wife. (Never mind the original Bishop wouldn’t be allowed one! Yikes!)santa-sleigh_1780995c

Now, we look at it from an entirely different perspective. Our choice, outwardly, is the same, but our reasons are very different. Lately I’ve spent a lot of time evaluating the many ways Christians handle Christmas. People can get VERY invested in this particular expression of their faith, and what is seen as accepted culturally, can become a HUGE controversy in one little facebook thread, all between professing Christians.
Some folks go the Puritan route. Christmas wasn’t in the Bible, and it isn’t the date of the true birth of Christ, and it is one of the Catholic Church’s massive achievements of assimilating paganism.  So why bother?
Others to a variation on that theme. Celebrating the birth of Christ is nice, and it happens in December, which they’ll go along with. But trees are a pagan expression, and all that rot, so they drop that aspect. Don’t even mention Santa, as it is an anagram for “Satan.”
Then there are folks who do the tree, the ornaments, the decorations, the gifts, but they don’t do Santa. It’s a lie, and Christians don’t lie, so there goes Santa. Plus many struggling Moms and Dads want their kids to appreciate that those presents under the tree are a result of THEIR sweat and blood and tears.
Then, there are those who do it just as everyone else does. Santa is included, with the breakfasts, the photos, the elf on a shelf, magic of Christmas.

So, who is right? Is there a right choice? Is this a big deal? Is there a set way to handle Christmas as Christians? And, is it ok, normal, right, and good to criticize each other? I mean, how many times do we think, let alone say out loud what we are thinking. The snobbery, the spiritual superiority. It all happens, and this is a good little bubble for it to all boil over.

Firstly, as Christians, our first focus is Christ. All throughout the Old Testament, and the New Testament, God’s focus is on HIS Glory, and HIS Son. Prophecy in the Old, Practice in the New. So our focus should be on Christ. On his Coming, His life, his Kingdom.  christ-is-bornGod has a plan for mankind, and for his glory to be revealed in his love for us.

1 John 4:9-11 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Secondly, our job as Christians is to spread the wealth! God loves us, and so we ought to love one another! Yikes! I guess that means the judging, the condescension, and the spiritual superiority is a sin of pride! Time to drop it! Does this mean we all have to celebrate Christmas the same way? Or, that we should all just scrap it as a pagan Holiday turned Christian? I think what scripture calls us to, as believers, is to love one another, and have unity. If not in doctrine, than in spirit, and in love. That means the Pride needs to go out the window. If we see sin, the kind the Bible defines as sin, then yes, from one Brother to another, we should address it in love, but in cases of minor doctrinal differences, a gentle loving approach with a healthy does of humility, is called for.
Ephesians 4:1-7 says:
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,  with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love,  being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling;  one Lord, one faith, one baptism,  one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.  But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”
These truths led our family to choose to celebrate Christmas with them in mind. We understand that our choices, convictions, etc are not the be all and end all of celebrating Christmas, but we do hold fast to our convictions based on our reading of scripture. In our family, our home, and our celebration, we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts, and are open to conviction and change that only he can bring. So we have chosen what we do prayerfully, and with a lot of study into God’s Word.
Firstly, when we celebrate Christ’s birth, we want God’s Glory, his plan for mankind, and his Son to be the focus of our Holiday. Second, that loving others and sharing Christ’s gift of grace, mercy, and love, are our priority in that context.
So how do we handle the particulars? We begin with Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks to God for his provision. We focus this on many things, but first of all on God’s provision in ALL areas of life, not just material ones. This prepares our hearts for the Christmas season. It is now that we talk about those who have little, and how we have much, and how we can pass it on.Here are some more specifics:

  • Santa is a Fairy Tale based on a real man. There was that real guy, St. Nicholas, who gave gifts out to those who needed them, anonymously. All gifts are from God, and so in this way, he chose to glorify God, who has given us the greatest gift, Jesus Christ. We visit Santa, take pictures with him for the grandparents who want them, and we stop it there.
  • Decorations: We decorate traditionally with a tree etc. But, when we do, the FIRST thing we put up is our bunch of Nativities and our advent calender. We focus on ChrDSCN0064ist, and his part in Christmas this way.
  • We do Advent. Every day we read from scripture about Christ, his life, the prophecies concerning him, and we focus on God’s glory and God’s plan. We also try to emphasize acts of love during this time.
  • Activities. We keep it simple. Parties are fun, and we do a few, but the main things we make big of are acts of service activities (Operation Christmas Child, donating items to a shelter, or Christian Org. etc etc), buying/making gifts for others, and our Christmas Eve service where we celebrate Christ’s Birth. We don’t kill ourselves to make every party, and we limit how thinly we spread ourselves. The point of Christmas isn’t to buy more, do more, see more, and get more. We feel that by spending time as a family focusing on the quiet peace of the season, our children have time to breathe and reflect on God, his plan, his word, and his son.
  • Scripture is the key to all of this. All season we focus on Christ related scriptures. Luke 2 is a biggie. On Christmas morning before we even open presents we act out and recite Luke 2 as a family. Each child has a character from my nativity set. This is the ONLY time they may touch it! As Luke 2 is read/recited, they act out their parts. After we’ve done this, had breakfast, we do presents. This De-emphasizes materialism, and focuses on Christmas’s true meaning.
  • Gift requests are compiled at one time. We encourage our children to do requests as a family making a list.  We take an afternoon, I look through their things, jot down current sizes. We make it fun, each child gets a turn with me telling me what they need, what they like, and what they wish for more than anything! I write a list of their likes and dislikes, put it all together, and we keep it handy for any relatives who ask what the kids want. It has ideas, options, and suggestions for all price ranges. Anything from less than $1 to more expensive items. The list is categorized by urgent needs, clothing, and toys. For my oldest, who is doing school, she has the extra category. Once that is finished (some time after Thanksgiving) the children are discouraged from making any more requests, unless it is an urgent need. That way we don’t have them asking embarrassing or rude questions or making rude requests. It is all completed, and no longer in focus for the Holiday Season.
So that is how we handle Christmas. Hoping you all have a Merry Christmas, whether Santa is involved or not! 😉