Now that the Thanksgiving leftovers are in the fridge we can start looking forward to Christmas, which is right around the corner. Thanksgiving and Christmas are my two favorite holidays, and I just wish they were spread apart a little bit more.
I adore the Christmas season - the music, the decorations, the lights, the nativity displays, the cookies, the goodwill that is displayed more than at other times of the year. But I don't like the crass commercialism ( crass = insensitive, crude, coarse) , the selfishness, the stress resulting from overspending or overscheduling. So I have worked hard over the years to find balance in our family celebration of Christmas, aiming for moderation in spending & decorating and incorporating traditions that provide joyful family memories and also that direct our hearts and minds to the "reason for the season"!
One of my all-time favorite resources that has helped toward that end is a little spiral-bound paperback book called Celebrate With Joy: Transform Your Christmas Season, by Sondra Burnett.
from Chapter 1 "Celebrate":
"Celebrations are not only fun, they are wonderful teaching tools. God gave His people festivals of celebration to encourage and teach them. God wants us to teach our children His truth. We are to talk of His Word when we sit in our homes, when we walk by the way, when we lie down, and when we rise up. What better way to communicate God's truth to our children than through the Symbols of the Season?"
The focus of this book is celebrating with meaning, trimming away the superfluous, and approaching the Advent season as well as the 12 days of the traditional Epiphany with joy and purpose. The 10 chapters are titled "Celebrate", "Advent...With Your Family", "Symbols of the Season", "Traditions... Yours, Mine and Ours", "Gala Gatherings", "Grateful Giving", "The Twelve Nights of Christmas", "More Than Just Recipes", "Uncluttering Christmas", and "Afterglow".
Some of the activities we have taken from this little treasure and incorporated in our Christmas celebration are the Advent Jar, the Advent Wreath & Devotional, Advent Chain, Birthday Cake for Jesus, and a St. Nicholas project.
In Raleigh, the Home School Gathering Place gets a shipment of this book every December. Owner Julia Harris knows the author and has promoted this book to the homeschool community here for many years.
There are also some free unit studies online inspired by the Advent devotionals in this book. We have done all of these at one time or another, and they are a wonderful way to teach the meaning behind many of the customs and traditions of our traditional celebrations.
A Blessed Christmas: Symbols of the Season
Good Christian Men Rejoice! : 15 Christmas Carols & Hymns
Names of Jesus