Oh, Christmas…you are hands down one of my favorite holidays…if not THE favorite. And this year, I’m more excited about you than I’ve been in a while.
babies toddlers (what?!) are older this year and gaining more understanding of things going on around them. They have the deepest desire to be involved in EVERYTHING. Sometimes this melts my heart and sometimes…sometimes I just want it to be Momma’s project, haha.
All that to say, we are really hoping to start some fun Christmas traditions this year and focus on more family experiences rather than lots of presents. Not that we don’t want to give things to our children, but we want to raise them to appreciate building relationships more than gaining material wealth. We’re attempting to combat a growing sense of entitlement.
One of the experiences we have planned is to go to Enchant – the world’s largest Christmas light maze. You can read more about it at enchantchristmas.com. It seems that it will be pretty incredible and I’m especially looking forward to seeing how Little Man and Little Lady will react. Childlike wonder…there’s nothing like it!
Another experience coming up is one of my favorites – picking out our Christmas tree! Ideally, we would put it up the day after Thanksgiving, but since keeping a live tree going for almost a month is somewhat arduous, I think the first weekend of December will be just fine, lol. This year we’re going to an actual tree farm and, judging by their website, it’s going to be full of fun activities for us and the kids.
This year, I’m wanting to do something a little different when decorating our tree. The plan is to make most of our own ornaments and garlands. Here’s what I’m thinking:
- cranberry garland – lots of Pinterest posts about how to do this. We won’t be stringing with popcorn (that’s just gross to me, lol), but we may eat popcorn while we make the garland, haha.
- dried citrus fruit garland – again, found this on Pinterest. I’ll slice the oranges and lemons in 1/4 inch slices and dehydrate in the oven. Then we will string them up.
- wood clothes pin ornaments – found this idea through Facebook. It was originally posted at bystephanielynn.com and I LOVE it. They look like beautiful, rustic snowflakes.
- cinnamon salt dough ornaments – another Pinterest idea. I’m hoping to really get the littles involved in making these. I feel like I can let them loose with cookie cutters…maybe. I’m super confident in Punkin’s abilities…it remains to be seen what the littles will do, haha!
- pinecone ornaments – the plan is to bleach some of them and leave some natural. Will probably keep these simple with a bow and a loop made from twine to hang on the tree.
- an assortment of other handmade ornaments
Y’all…Pinterest is NOT making it easy to limit myself, hahaha! But the goal is to have a completely handmade look this year and I’m super excited!!
A tradition that we’ve already been practicing each year is baking and decorating Christmas cookies. We bake the cookies, make and color royal icing and go to town. The littles haven’t contributed to this one yet…and I’m not entirely sure that Little Lady is ready yet. Little Man will most likely participate this year, though I expect his cookies will look more like abstract art than Christmas trees, snowflakes or gingerbread men.
It’s my hope that we will have an evening to make hot chocolate and popcorn, hop in the Beckmobile in our pjs and go hunt for Christmas lights. Living in the city, I’m sure there will be some awesome light displays to find. I inadvertently found one in a friend’s neighborhood already – they lit it up right after Halloween, ha!
We’ve already broken out the Christmas movies and music – woohoo! I’m sure we will have a Santa Clause marathon one evening. And let’s not forget Elf. White Christmas (my favorite!)…Home Alone (the first one is my favorite – the others are just blah to me)…Polar Express…Miracle on 34th Street. And for adults only…The Holiday…Love Actually…sigh. So many wonderful Christmas movies!
We have a Star From Afar kit that I’m excited to get out and hopeful to be more consistent with this year. It’s basically a more Christ-centered version of Elf on the Shelf. You set up the nativity in one location and then move the star and the wise men around for the kids to find (place the star in one spot, the wise men in another and the kids find the wise men and move them to the star). Finally, on Christmas Eve, you place the star over the nativity. It’s so sweet. I will clarify one thing, though. I believe the Bible teaches that the wise men didn’t actually find Jesus as a baby, but as a young boy. In that respect, I feel like ALL nativity displays and most children’s Christmas books about Jesus’ birth are a tad misleading. However, the gifts the magi brought to Jesus and the symbolism behind them are still important. The fact that the wise men recognized Jesus as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and the long-awaited Savior is something vitally important or it wouldn’t have been recorded in the Bible at all. So, when I set out Star From Afar and my own favorite Willowtree nativity, I will gladly include the wise men…and their camels. You can find out more about Star From Afar here – starfromafar.com
Finally, the most important aspect of Christmas…discipling our children so that they can learn about our Heavenly Father, Savior Jesus and the precious Holy Spirit. Teaching our children the TRUE reason for Christmas…we will be participating in Advent. This year I purchased a family advent study from Sacred Holidays and I’m looking forward to cracking it open with Mr. Beck and the kids. We will have our advent candles on our dining table and lighting them each week will be part of our advent activities. I don’t know what to expect from the kids at this age, but we’re going to do the best we can and show grace and understanding when necessary. You can find out more and order one of their advent studies at sacredholidays.com. Advent starts this Sunday, December 3 so you may want to get a digital version.
So, yes, this probably sounds like a lot, but it’s so much quality family time that I won’t complain. It’s something we need desperately in this screen-focused world.
What does your family do for Christmas?