Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Preparing for Christmas

First we put up our trusty old tree,

Which prompted half a dozen photo shoots.

Once that excitement subsided a bit, I made a felt tree for the kiddos to play with.

Online this tree is described as a means to prevent children from playing with the real Christmas tree, but I’m not sure that point was kid-tested. In our house, the felt ornaments usually can be found wedged in toy trucks while our real tree’s ornaments are still regularly investigated. But we keep our main tree’s bottom half kid-safe and don’t really mind a little sensory exploration as long as the ornaments are put back periodically.

We added some other holiday touches around the house, including another felt project – a little advent calendar for the mantle.

But I haven’t done too much holiday decorating this year, I think because we have a number of house projects ongoing. On Friday, we painted Eleanor’s room a soft pink and finally put up her curtains. I love having a pink room again, but I may have kicked my slipper into the roller tray in my fast and furious painting zeal.

But back to Christmas… after setting up the trees, we started our evening advent time. Each night the kids eagerly open our advent bag to find a couple Christmas books and a decoration or toy.

I originally considered buying or making treats to put in an advent calendar but realized that we have so many special decorations and Christmas items that I could parcel those out over the advent season instead. After being in storage for a year they’re almost brand-new to Luke and totally brand-new to Eleanor anyway. So their advent surprises have ranged from Christmas plates to a nativity, and from singing snowmen to holiday pajamas.

After they open the bag, we put up the decoration or play with the toy and then read the books.

Next we might sing a song, depending on their moods (Erik and I love the singing segment but the kids often lose focus here). We finish by reading part of the Christmas story from one of our children’s Bibles. Our hope is that by going over and over different pieces of the story, seeing different people come to hear and rejoice over Christ’s birth, L and E will have time for the wonder to sink in of God coming to dwell among us. It’s hard to find the right advent ‘balance’ between fun childhood activities and the life-changing message of God’s love through Jesus. But we’re working on it and pray that God will use us to point the Christmas season festivities back to the greatest Gift that motivates them all.

The first few nights of advent Luke was so delighted that it took him forever to settle down to sleep. Then the next morning he would come charging into our room extra-early to request another advent time! Here’s a pre-advent-time dance pic to attest to the kiddos’ enthusiasm.

Thankfully Luke’s mostly fallen into the routine now and is sleeping better. So now we’re all loving our special evening family time!

1 comment :

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your children's joy! The second photo (of Eleanor) is priceless! We have done a pre-bed advent time in the past, and so relate to the singing part. ;-) Your love of your kids, and joy in creating is always refreshing to read about.