How did Christmas get to be a month-long thing, anyway?
Christmas has become quite the to-do in our home, even though I never really got into the spirit of things for the first several years of our marriage. If I could put the tree up on the 23rd, then take it down on the 26th, that would have been quite enough for me, thank you very much. I guess motherhood is the Grinch-buster, because the longer I have little ones in the house, the more excited I get about all the baubles and lights. Christmas has become a treasured season in our lives, and not just a day. And that’s the way it should be!
Growing up in Appalachian mountain evangelical churches, I don’t think I ever even heard the word “advent” until I was in my twenties. Most people will find that amusing, I’m sure. Dumb hillbillies. Regardless, once I heard about it, I adopted the Advent calendar as a tradition in our home. When we only had a couple of kids in the house, I just put small candies or toys into a paper bag calendar I’d made. I’m not crafty, so you won’t see this one on Pinterest. I can’t believe this was 10 years ago.
As the family grew I couldn’t fit individual things into the bags anymore. Besides, doing things is way more fun.
Now, sometime in November I sit down and think of 24 Christmassy things to do (or eat!) leading up to the Day. I write the ideas on strips of paper and put them in the little drawers of our Advent Calendar.
Each year is a little bit different, depending on my mood and how much of a mess I think I’ll be up for. There is a lazy side of me that wishes I hadn’t taught the children to expect so much every year, but the quality time is always worth the effort. There are a few things that we do every year without fail. Of course, there is always the Reason for the Season, reading the Christmas story and singing hymns. There are some less pious things, as well, like gingerbread houses made with graham crackers and royal icing. I’ll post a how-to later on for those interested. Yesterday we put together a Christmas puzzle. We’ll use some peel-and-stick sheets to stick it together and frame it. Other things we do are making and taking gifts to neighbors, singing Christmas carols, and drinking hot chocolate.
So how do we keep on schooling when it’s just one big party? Well, to tell the truth, I called the puzzle geometry and art (it’s shapes and colors!) yesterday, and when the time comes for gingerbread houses, I’m going to call that “handicrafts”. We do our morning meeting with prayer and Bible reading, a few together things like Shakespeare or Plutarch, then a little bit of copywork and math. After that we’re as flexible as we need to be, depending on how time-consuming the day’s activity is. Sometimes it’s just an extra story or song. Sometimes it’s an all-morning event.
The kids can still fit their lessons in around the edges while we center our lives around the Truth that Christ was born for us. If we skip some academic things, I can still rest easy knowing that January is coming. We can grind it out then. We have so much going on in December that I’ve learned to look forward to January as a time to accomplish much. Perhaps I’ll even accomplish a few more blog posts! Sorry it’s been sparse so far, but as long as I’m raising these kids, it’s going to be like that. You know how it is.
What are your Christmas traditions? Do you have an advent calendar? Let me know in the comments what you do so I can fill out my calendar with new ideas next year!