December 8, 2012
Merry Christmas one and all!! I absolutely adore this season. I feel more peaceful, more relaxed, more focused on my family at Christmas than any other time of the year. I hope you are all enjoying the season as well.
We have fused almost all of our Christmas traditions into one great tradition: the activity-a-day advent paper chain. I'm sure many of you do something similar. Because I'm super crafty (ha), I make a paper chain that is 24 links long. On each link I write a scripture and a Christmas-related family activity. Every morning beginning December 1, one of my children takes off a link, reads the scripture and then that day's activity. Then sometime during the day we do the activity. Voila--Christmas celebration every day with very little work once the upfront planning is finished.
I love this tradition for many reasons. 1) I love to watch the chain get shorter as Christmas nears. So do my kids. 2) I can work in all our favorite activities and make sure that we do each one each year. 3) I can prep my hubby several days in advance for the things he doesn't like to do so that most of his grinchiness has subsided by the time of the actual activity. 4) We spend time together as a family every day in December. I know we homeschool but sometimes being in the same room doesn't equate to doing things together.
Now that I've shared this brilliant idea that I heard from my SIL several years ago, I'll continue to pass on happiness and cheer by writing down our 2012 Advent Activities. It never hurts to get some fun family activity ideas!
Dec. 1: Ward Christmas Party
Dec. 2: Watch the 1st Presidency Christmas Devotional, followed by chocolate fondue
Dec. 3: Get the tree and put up the decorations followed by eggnog
Dec. 4: Decorate presents for grandmas and grandpas (I make a trip to Michaels at the end of every Christmas season and buy a bunch of the wooden paint or color Christmas ornament thingys on clearance. Then I save them for the next year.
Dec. 5: Write letters to great-grandma B and mail them
Dec. 6: Celebrate Eli's birthday! (His birthday is actually the 8th but we're flexible and fit it in wherever it works best--December is busy.)
Dec. 7: Young Family Party
Dec. 8: Rasmussen Party (when you have lots of parties it fills up the days quickly)
Dec. 9: Journey to Bethlehem (it is a program hosted by a local Christian church)
Dec. 10: Have a FHE on service and bring out the manger to fill with service straw (if you don't know what I'm talking about let me know in the comments)
Dec. 11: Write letters to great-grandma Ruth and mail them
Dec. 12: Watch Mr. Krueger's Christmas and eat caramel popcorn
Dec. 13: Buy presents for Toys for Tots and donate them
Dec. 14: Sing through the Christmas Carol book (we have a little board book with about 12 Christmas carols in it and an accompanying cd--singing through all the songs is one of our very favorite traditions)
Dec. 15: Barney Christmas Party
Dec. 16: Christmas Village Lights in Ogden
Dec. 17: Bulgarian Orphan Concert (my children collect money to donate and then sing at the concert)
Dec. 18: Open Sibling Presents (my kids make each other hand-made gifts. We try to have them all done by Dec. 1 and open them at the beginning of the month so they are super special for a month before the kids open their other presents. That clearly didn't happen this year as only one is completed so far. However, this just shows the beauty of the advent chain--it helps you do everything you love but is utterly flexible.)
Dec. 19: Make Christmas cookies and deliver them to neighbors and friends who might be lonely this year (ie widows)
Dec. 20: Make a list of all our blessings (I'm still trying to decide how to make this work without crafting--I was thinking of using chocolateonmycranium's idea of writing the blessings on paper and tying them to a tree--I'll have to think about it more)
Dec. 21: Take food to the food pantry
Dec. 22: Go to Grandma Rasmussen's and eat chocolates
Dec. 23: Go to church with Grandma!! (My kids love doing that because my dad slips the kids Canadian mints)
Dec. 24: Bethlehem Dinner at Grandma Young's plus The Nativity
Sometimes, despite all my planning, I have to switch around activities. Paper chains are PERFECT for that. I just keep a few red and green strips in reserve and if a change is necessary I take out that day's link and replace it with the revised link. No fuss. My children never see the master list so they don't notice anything.
There are other things we do during the season that don't wind up on the master list every year just because we run out of room. For example, we try to always make fun thank you cards for the kids' primary teachers and deliver them. This year we didn't have room on the chain, but we still made the thank you cards. Some years it has been a struggle to find activities for each day. Some years we struggle to fit in all our favorites because so much is going on. Each year, though, I have been grateful for the memories made as my children and I spent time with each other truly enjoying the season.
Wishing all of you a very merry Christmas.
Andrea is a homeschooling mother of five (six in February!); ages 9, 7, 6, 3, and 20 months. She is a "retired" school teacher who loves books, books, and more books! She also loves writing, cooking, hiking, dancing, singing, and hanging out with her family. You can read more about her homeschooling efforts on the blog Frolic and Farce.