Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Few Ideas You Can Share with Your Kids about Christmas

My husband and I have close friends who have completely turned their back on the way that we celebrate Christmas in America. I have no problem with that; besides...we are in America!!! You get to change your mind and speak your peace. That is part of what has made this a great country to live in.

When I think about how we celebrate such a fun Holiday, I do feel that it is overly commercial and that it goes by way too fast. I remember last year, the day after Christmas, a very popular clothing store with purposefully kitschy commercials started advertising Christmas is over so come get these deals or something. I just felt like, "Slow down!!! My kids are still opening presents already!" They weren't, but come on! Really? The very next day you start promoting your Spring collection or whatever it was. O.k. rant over.

I get why people feel that they don't want to put up a tree, don't want to tell their kids about Santa, don't want to buy presents. I get it. But when I think about my childhood Christmases, which included all of the pomp and circumstance with maybe a little less commercialism but not very much, I can't imagine taking those things away from my kids.

So, I have put together a few thoughts on ways to explain some of the things that we do at Christmas time to our kids so that we don't feel like we are lying to them about the true meaning of Christmas and simultaneously not stripping it down to just sitting around the table staring at each other on December 25th. Just goes...bear with me please.

Is Santa real?
A friend told me that once your kid is old enough to ask this question, they are old enough to know the truth. Problem with us is, our kid has been asking since she was 4 because a close friend of ours told her kids (who are close friends with our kids) that Santa was not real. Of course she told my kid (with fervor, i might add) and so there we were, faced with ending a harmless holiday tradition or figuring out a way to maintain the excitement of going to bed in anticipation of what might happen during the night while they are asleep.

Well, that didn't happen. What we ended up telling them is that Santa is not real but that we celebrate Christmas with the idea of a Santa because it is fun, and to help us remember the importance of giving to others. So, in our house, we still talk about Santa coming and what will Santa bring, but they are quick to remind me that Santa is just an "idea". LOL!

Why do we give presents?
We've never been asked this because our kids could care less as to "why" they get gifts, just so long as they get them. However, in an attempt to keep our holiday traditions Christ-centered, I told them that on the night that Jesus was born, wise men brought him three precious gifts, so we give gifts to each other to honor that act of love and appreciation that the wise men showed to our Saviour on the night of His birth.

When I told them what the gifts were, they said "myrrh?" "What's myrrh?" And they laughed way too much at how silly they thought the word sounded. SMH

Christmas tree
This is a biggie for some of our friends; they read some information on pagan rituals and decided that they couldn't stand to see a Christmas tree in their house ever again. Totally fine. I admire people who are able to change long term habits. I think it is extremely admirable. It's difficult for me to decide to cancel cable and begin to use a streaming service like ROKU because I'm so used to the background noise of the t.v.

With this one, I told our kids that we bring in a tree and put a star at the top because of the bright star that was in the sky on the night of Jesus' birth to guide the wise men to the manger where Jesus was. I told them that it is to remind us of His birth.

The same explanation would work if you place an angel on your tree as it was an angel who announced Jesus' birth.

I believe that it does not matter how you celebrate Christmas, with or without these things. It only matters that in our hearts and actions, we remember why this holiday is on the calendar at all. Had Jesus not been born, we wouldn't even have a Christmas holiday. That along makes it all about Him in my mind.

My husband's grandmother, who is in her late 80's, still to this day gathers her whole family around on Christmas Eve to tell everyone why we celebrate Christmas. I understand that she's been doing this for over 40 years now, and thankfully so, she has passed down her heritage of faith for generations, even to my little girls.

In short, with or without all of the trimmings...Jesus is alive and that's plenty reason to celebrate!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Isn't That What it's All About???

 First of all we had an absolutely LOVELY Thanksgiving Dinner on Thursday. Everyone that we invited came with the exception of one neighbor's wife which meant that we had exactly enough place settings for every adult that joined us. I was very sorry that she was ill, but very thankful that there wasn't a lone adult sitting on the living room couch eating their dinner while everyone else sat a the tables. :) In reality though, that lone adult would have been my husband or me. And actually as I picture the day in my mind there was still one seat left for her. One of our guests fed her 2 yr old son at the table in our neighbor's wife's would-be seat, so there actually were enough places set. O.k. this post has started out in a ramble. Oops!
kid's table

Let's talk about that title for a moment...Isn't That What it's All About. I chose this title for this post because this year at my 4th Thanksgiving dinner, there was no family in sight. Everyone one that came was a close friend of ours or family members of close friends. We had a great time as I was not about to let the absence of family deter me from creating a special place for others to gather and give thanks or deter me from making memories to pass down to my girls.

Neighbor taking ALOT of cake home
So in my planning of this year's dinner, I ran across what my husband called "apathy" about this most wonderful of holidays. I was texting with a friend who asked about how my plans for dinner were progressing and she mentioned during the conversation  that "Thanksgiving is not that big a deal anymore because of family members who've passed or moved away." In talking to my mom I heard some of the same attitude. It was more like, "don't cook this or that, that's too much to do, or you're really into this this year." Comments that implied to me, that Thanksgiving is "not that big a deal anymore."
Some visitors

When I was growing up, it was a big deal. All of my aunts and my mom in the kitchen, arguing about whose dressing or mac and cheese was the best (my mom's was and still is the best). All of the family gathered at my grandmother's house, Christmas decorations already going up and the best food I'd ever tasted covering every surface from the kitchen to the dining room! That was Thanksgiving.

kid's table and a couple more guests
I get that family members have grown up and moved away, started families of their own or the simple fact that today's families are much smaller than the families that we or our parents' generation grew up in. But is that a reason to throw away the traditions that brought our families together? I'm pretty much appalled at how many people don't celebrate Christmas with the idea of Santa or a Christmas tree. The same things that they loved as a child, they have somehow become convinced that these things are no longer good enough or sensible enough. Some feel that these types of ideas take away from the true meaning of these holidays. I'd love to bring to their attention that those holiday celebrations did nothing to derail them from their life's accomplishments or from becoming a Christian. I personally feel that these ideas and gatherings made childhood remarkably memorable.

Hence, my title. Isn't the trouble of cooking a big dinner, decorating your home with browns and oranges and golds or stockings over the fireplace , wreaths on the door, holly, Christmas trees, garland, mistletoe and the like what it is all about? Isn't it about creating environments, atmospheres and smells that will take up residence in our children's hearts and souls as they did ours? Isn't it so that these memories and events would be so etched within them that when they become adults they'd too, use these very same ideas, thoughts and gatherings to keep my and your children, nieces, nephews and grandchildren together? Isn't it about passing down traditions that do no harm at all but only good for the family as a whole? Isn't it about teaching our girls how to prepare a traditional dinner, our boys about how the first turkeys were hunted and killed for food, or girls and boys about planting, growing and harvesting? Isn't it about taking them to the grocery stores to see the busy-ness of the checkout lines, moms and dads hunting up and down the grocery store aisle with a shopping list in hand making sure nothing is forgotten? Isn't it for preserving the good, forgetting our differences and our disagreements and coming together to take a minute or a day to say "thank-you" to God and each other? Isn't it so that Great Grandma can know who her newest great grand is? Isn't it to be able to sit around and your children hear the same stories that you heard told around your Thanksgiving table as a child? Isn't it about the build up of anticipation and maybe even some stress to get everything out of the oven on time and the sigh of relief when it's all over? Isn't it so that the older generation can now sit back and relax while the younger moms prepare the food and the tables? Isn't it really simply all about love and family and time? The love for our neighbors and friends and the time that we've been granted to be with our family? Isn't it about bringing a little bit of yesterday into today?

I don't know...I plan to cook a great big Thanksgiving dinner every year that I am granted by God to do so. I will stand in my kitchen with hurt feet for several days to make sure that everything comes out of the oven on time. I plan to put my Christmas tree up every year, the very next day after Thanksgiving. I plan to continue to teach my girls why we do this or that. That we give gifts on Christmas because wise men brought gifts to Jesus on the night of His birth. They will know that giving gifts is for us to enjoy a special holiday and not to diminish what our Saviour's birth did for mankind. They will know that we bring in a tree and top it with a star because the star of Bethlehem was the guiding light that let the wisemen know a King had been born.

Yep, we will continue to love and cherish good God-given family time during the most special time of year. And hopefully my girls will grow up to do the same. At the very least though, they will have wonderful memories built up in their hearts and souls, and for me, mommytheteacher...that will be just plenty.

Thanks for reading...

Friday, November 16, 2012

Falling Leaves and Folder Books

The tree from which the beautiful bounty fell...
This week was a far cry away from the last two weeks as far as "busy"-ness goes. And I welcomed it with open arms! It was practically a run of the mill kind of week with the exception of mommy running around like a turkey with her head chopped off...pun so certainly intended. :) I have been shopping for Thanksgiving Dinner. It is pretty cool that Madison is learning about the first 13 colonies of our United States and the first Thanksgiving right around the time that we are having such a wonderfully festive holiday. At any rate, I am anticipating my largest gathering to date since I have been cooking Thanksgiving dinners. Which, this year is my 4th and I am expecting 15 adults, 8 kids and 1 baby. What a time this will be. I have to bring in an extra table, a 6 footer. We are renting extra chairs and for the first time, I have to set up a kid's table. Big fun!

Working on folder books
Folder books of 10 Colonies
Madison worked on her folder books this week. Chelsea worked on reading. She's reading very fluently for her age but if I could just sit down with her every single day, she would progress even more rapidly. I am not a stickler on my girls being "ahead" of their grade level. However, I know the quicker I have them reading fluently, the more independent they can be in their studies and the easier my job  gets as "mommytheteacher." Now, I thoroughly enjoy teaching them and interacting with them through learning, but ultimately, I want them to be independent learners for their own sakes. I think that that will pay off for them much more in the long run than having mommy spoon feed them every single piece of information. I believe this so much so that Chelsea, at four, is able to read and follow the directions in her Big Kindergarten book of exercises on her own (I haven't thought of this before, but that is reading comprehension right there). So when I am busy with Madison, it doesn't hinder Chelsea and vice versa.

I know some home school parents strongly disagree with this type of homeschooling but being a part of a co-op has shown me that its like disciplining your it early while they are young and pliable and you wont have to do it so much later. That's just what works for us.
Oh yeah, Chelsea also worked on folding this blanket. :).

Yes, all of this is her folding process!

Madison has composed her first piece of piano music and it has gotten rave reviews from her piano teacher and our family and friends as well. That's very exciting for us as parents.

While the girls were outside playing this week, they spied a neighbor's yard covered in beautiful crunchy red, orange and brown leaves. They were unable to resist the beckoning of one of the many benefits of the fall season. My attention was gotten by lots of giggles and laughs and screams. I walked off the porch to find them standing beneath an eternal cascade of gorgeous foliage. Thanks for stopping by...

Friday, November 2, 2012

Where to begin...

This has been a very, very busy week! We crammed a lot into two weeks and this is a wrap up of it all!

First of all Madison had a History project due. Since we are studying American History and all of the great settlers of this great country, her project was to build a shoebox ship. I did not have the forethought to take pictures of each step...probably because daddy and I were fussing too much over our difference of opinion on how the ores should be situated. LOL! It was so funny when Madison finally spoke up and said "I really hate to say this but, I meant for this to be a fun project for us to do!" (Mind you it was not her idea for us to do it as a family) You can imagine what went through our adult minds when the mind of a 6 year old said that to us and about us. So I proceeded to say, "o.k. then, we will do this your and daddy's way and I wont change a thing." Then she said, "well mom it's not just you not making it fun, it's both of you." LOL! This may sound like too much coming from your child, but she wasn't being disrespectful in the least, she was actually being very cautious as she spoke these truthful words of wisdom.

So then as Phillip and I got on one accord, she took notice shortly afterwards and said, "see everything's better when we work together" LOL again! Here are some pictures of our finished product.

 We changed the sails at the last moment from plain white to blue (her favorite color) to make the ship pop! So basically we started with a shoebox, glued on some popsicle sticks all around to give it a wooden look. We made slits for the ores on either side of the ship and slid in some scraps of cardboard. We then cut out some square pieces of construction paper and taped them to the smaller popsicle sticks for the masts. Daddy drew and colored a Canadian Maple Leaf on a small piece of poster board as this was the country that she wanted her ship to represent. Daddy also drew the unicorn head for the front of the ship because she wanted it to resemble the Viking Ships from the days of old. We also attached a "tail" made of poster board. There are more intricate steps involved, but you get the idea. Once we all got focused on the task at truly was a fun family task for us to do.

We also attended a church picnic for the department that Phillip oversees at our church. The girls spent time "mining for gold." I think they got the idea from a t.v. show that we'd been watching on the discovery channel.

Because I never learned to swim as a child and still cant as an adult...I wanted to make sure that the girls had the opportunity to learn, no matter what. And I did. But this meant that we had to have a couple of days of schooling at the swim center! They did pretty good with that although they tried to trick me into letting them watch the other while they were swimming versus doing work while the other was in the pool. Mommy didn't fall for that though!
Chelsea doing work while Madison is in the pool
Madison doing work while Chelsea is in the pool
Another project that we did was build a little city. Well, I don't know if it is actually "building" as much as "creating" maybe?? Anyway, I got the idea from them, and we just went with it. It was a good learning experience though. They had to determine which type of buildings and businesses they normally see in a city and plan our city accordingly. Our city by the way was call Richville.
Gluing on the roads
City planning
Final product

And last but not least...halloween! After literally hours of scouring the Party City catalog, Madison decided on being Izzy the girl pirate from Jake and the Neverland Pirates. And Chelsea decided on Batgirl!

Share This

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...