Sunday, December 2, 2012

                       A Christ Centered Christmas 2012 

WE LOVE CHRISTMAS!!!!!! However, a Christ center Christmas wasn't always the case in the Kuhn home. We have come full circle from years ago with family centered traditions.
These kid friendly traditions have continued year after year which has allowed us the opportunity to focus more on Christ and the true meaning of Christmas verses on our own desires. 
I hope in reading my blog over the course of December you will feel inspired to include some of these in your home if not this year then in the next years to come. 

Year after year we have used several books to assist in making our families traditional Christmas come alive: We truly love books by Martha Zimmerman. One that is very popular in our home is Celebrating the Christian Year. This book takes all the major Christian holidays and centers them around building wonderful family traditions. Giving you step by step ideas, recipes and crafts for each particular holiday. All the ideas we have been open to have allowed us the opportunity to learn more about who St. Nicholas was. CHILDREN LOVE HEROS! St. Nicholas symbolizes the spirit of selfless giving. He wasn't perfect, but he exemplified Christian character that is worthy of being taught to our children. Like Abraham, Moses, Mary, John the Baptist, when rightly pictured points right to Christ.   In the past we focused more on Santa and his Elves, now we have been blessed to learn more about individuals in the past who had little and gave so much. We opened our eyes to the meaning of the Christmas tree which we now call the Jesse Tree and even the candy cane. We were convicted that the story of Santa taught our kids that they would receive gifts on the bases of their being good and of course, coal if they weren't. HAHA!! Which is totally opposite to what we know to be true as Christians . What we have received from God at Christmas is His gift: Salvation. We did not earn this gift by being "good." Scripture teaches that it is "not by good works, so that no one can boast " (Eph. 2:9) 
Learning more about Advent is also a great way to count down the days till Christmas morning. Advent in the Greek form means "To Come" which is the four week period leading up to December 25th. It is to be a special time, set apart, to spiritually  prepare for a celebration which we call "A birthday Party for Jesus". The season of Advent was designed to remember the waiting and to provide a period of preparation that would allow time for reflection before that special day arrives. This allows  us to be reminded of our need to be prepared.  It gives all our children the chance to take an active role in all the festivities in our home and what better way to allow them a hands on approach. Here are some of the books we use. Christ in Christmas, A Family Advent Celebration by James Dobson. Advent Storybook, 24 Stories to Share Before Christmas by Antonie Schneider.  Also FamilyLife Adorenaments, which are Christmas ornaments to delight your children and to give them life-changing messages that truly touch their souls right in the palm of their hands. 
                              Twelve hung with Care

Using Advent books and wreaths and even candles helps signify the special meaning behind stories, colors, and even the number of items used. Traditionally, the four candles used around an Advent wreath are purple (The Royal color of the Kings). In the center a taller candle to be lit at the birthday celebration. It is called the Christ candle and represents the light HE brings. It is white reminding us of the purity of our Lord. Perfect in every respect, A Lamb without Blemish..... (1 Peter 1:19) "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29)
Before lighting the first Advent candle, turn out all the lights in the house and see how dark it really is! This experience of physical darkness reminds us of that time before Christ, when humanity was sitting "in darkness and the shadow of death....(Luke 1:79) 

Below is a formatted calender we use leading up to the four weeks before Christmas: Great story to read A Christmas Carol 

Dec 1st- Put up Jesse Tree and Advent Candle, along with other decorations. 

1st Sunday Dec 2nd - First Sunday of Advent Light the first candle (Represents Preparation) Start Advent calender or chain. Wrap B-day presents for Jesus. Make an Advent cake. 

Dec. 5th Preparations for St. Nicholas Day- Bake gingerbread cookie, Hang stockings, read Santa, Are you real? By Harold Myra. Take small brown snack bags and fill with newspaper and tie red ribbon around them, to look like a bag that St. Nicolas carried and place under your tree. Make cookies for a food bank or someone who is experiencing a hardship and deliver them. 

Second Sunday of Advent-Light second candle 
(Represents"Love") Learn about the candy cane and the colors that are used, or the meaning behind the Christmas tree. Make homemade ornaments. 

Third Sunday of Advent- Light third candle (Represents"Joy")
Set up your Nativity scene and allow Mary and Joseph to travel through your home on a day to day bases. Our kids loved to see where they traveled next. Watch the Nativity Story. 

Fourth Sunday of Advent- Light fourth candle 
(Represents"God's love")  Make a Birthday banner to display on Christmas

Dec. 24th Christmas Eve - Look for the first star in the evening sky. Gather all your Nativity Scene. Mary and Joseph arrive at Manger. Exchange gifts between children and even do stockings if you'd like. Read Twas the Night before Christmas. 

Dec. 25th HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESUS!!!!  Place Jesus in manger/crib. Light a candle beside the scene to announce the the family that Christ is born. Light has come into the world. Light the four candles of the Advent wreath.Light the Christ Candle in the center. In afternoon add the shepherds and the sheep to the Nativity scene. Watch videos that bring in the holidays. Make a birthday cake or cookies using Nativity cookie cutters and decorate them and have lots of family favorite foods and balloons and just spend the day glorifying God, enjoy your family and make memories that last. 

* Remember* Plan activities appropriate to the ages of your children. Any of these listed above can be easily adapted to any family small or large. Make it work for your family. 

In Hopes of More is dedicated to mothers and families large or small. It's inspired by our growing family and our dedication to our Lord and Savior. From our family to yours over the holiday season.
  We would love to introduce # 11. Our baby boy will arrive    sometime in April 2013. At 19 weeks he is healthy and active.