Sunday, November 28, 2010

Advent - Some Ways Our Family Prepares

Advent Wreath Tradition 
It's hard to believe that Thanksgiving is over and now it is time to prepare for the celebration of Christ's birth! Today is the first Sunday of Advent so one of the first decorations we pull out is our  Advent wreath which we display in our kitchen.   After we eat dinner as a family we light the candle(s) depending on which week of Advent we are in.  So this week we will be lighting one purple candle after we bless our wreath with a special prayer.  This year we will be reading Jotham's Journey, A Storybook for Advent with our children.  We will try to read it with using only the light from the candle(s).  It's beautiful to see that as we get closer to the celebration of Christ's birth, each lit candle makes the room brighter and reading easier.  I love how this symbolizes how we anticipate the coming of Jesus Christ, the Light of the world! 

Jesse Tree Tradition
We will also be decorating our Jesse Tree and reading scripture as our children put on one symbol per night on our "tree" (which is a branch we found in our woods in a pot covered with purple cloth).  Our symbols are made out of paper and our children colored each picture. I then laminated them and punched a hole to tie a string to the paper.  I made copies of these symbols from this page on  . We have enjoyed reading The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean in years past and we will continue with this tradition this year.  We read one story each night which relates to the Jesse Tree and its symbols. 

Advent Tree and Wrapped Christmas Books Tradition
If you are like me, you may have a lots of Christmas books that you have collected through the years.   A few years ago I found a great way to read our religious and secular Christmas books and at the same time have my children anticipate Jesus' birthday.  I wrap up each book with purple wrapping paper.  I usually find the purple paper in our local Dollar Tree store.  Then beginning on Dec. 1st, one child opens one book and we read it as a family.  Then on Dec. 2, our next child opens a book and so on.  My children really love this idea of opening their Advent Christmas book.  I have a small "Advent tree" in our great room decorated with purple balls and under this tree is where we have our wrapped Christmas books.  This small Advent tree goes up at the beginning of Advent and then we buy our real Christmas tree sometime later in December.   
I also number the books and put each child's name on the back of the wrapping paper so I don't have to remember who gets to unwrap the next book!

Family Fun Bucket Tradition
Last year a friend of mine made this family fun bucket for me. 

Inside the bucket are strips of white, green, and red heavy paper with simple fun things to do.  Each night in December, each family member picks out a strip of paper, reads it and then our family does what is on the paper.  For example, one says "What is the real meaning of Christmas?" or "Shhh! the secret phrase is : "Christmas Lights." Describe the phrase and see who can guess it." or "It's sing-along time! Everyone sing "Silent Night".   There is a great variety of simple, fun things to do and this has been really great to do as a family!
I have made several Family Fun Buckets for family and friends for gifts and everyone has enjoyed this low cost and meaningful gift!  I have the list of all activities on 7 pages saved on a file in my computer.  If you would like to have this list please Contact Me and I will be more than happy to email you this list!

The season of Advent is such a special time and I am thankful that our family celebrates the true meaning of Christmas by doing several fun and meaningful Advent activities to prepare for the day when we can sing "Happy Birthday to Jesus!"

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Unknown said...

What a fun way to celebrate the season. I voted for you earlier, but I knew you would be posting something today. I am glad I waited to leave a comment. It also looks like you put new pictures of your cupcakes up. They look all ready for Christmas and very adorable. Have a blessed day, Tracy!

Delores said...

When we were first married... those many years ago :)... I started what we call "star activities." We color and cut out as many stars as there are days in Advent. Then I put an activity on each one and we take that one down when we do that activity. The last star is above where our nativity will be. So we follow the Star to Bethlehem. We usually have things like make a "Happy Birthday Jesus" banner, Christmas baking, pray for the dead (we go to a cemetery), clean, put up lights and decorations, get Grandma from the airport, and decorate place-mats for our Christmas meal (we cut poster board into the right size pieces and then wrap them up like Christmas presents -- easy clean up!). I try to do new things each year, but also do the usual ones. The kids love it!

Mom2Seven said...

Hi Tracy, Wonderful ideas! We only do our core subjects during Advent, and then we spend the rest of the day doing Advent related activities that I have accumulated over the years. A wonderful resource is Holy Heroes. Are you familiar with it? You are sent an e-mail daily with wonderful ideas as well as instructional videos. I appreciate it especially on the days that get away from us for one reason or another.

I hope you have a blessed first week of Advent!
~~Annita +JMJ+

Unknown said...

You shared the Christmas book idea with me last year and I have been so excited to do it this year! I'm almost done wrapping my books. And I love the family fun bucket idea...would you mind passing that along to me? Thanks Tracy! I really appreciate your creativity and your love for God and your family!

Patty said...

What lovely traditions! I just LOVE to read what every does. I am a big believer that you can always start a new one as well. I like the Advent tree decorated with the purple ornaments.

HAve you ever heard of Cay Gibson's Christmas Mosaic? A tremendous source for Advent/ secular children's books throughout the ADvent/Christmas season.

Jen said...

I love the idea of opening a Christmas book each day! So FUN!! I also love the fun bucket. I am sure these are traditions and memories your children will cherish when they are older!!

What great ideas! I would love the family gift box email, if you don't mind. I am going to look into the Jotham's Journey, A Storybook for Advent I can't believe I haven't heard of it before:(. Love the Advent tree and the book idea. What great family tradition for the holiday and a fabulous way to bring Christ back into the holidays!!! I voted for you today.

Hi Lynda!
Thanks always for your visits, comments, and support! You are very observant to notice the new pictures I have of my "cupcakes". Yep, we took Christmas card pics over Thanksgiving :) WOW! Time is racing by!

Hi Delores!
Thanks for sharing your Star Activities idea! That does sound like fun for your family! I love the wrapping up placemats idea too :)

Hi Annita!
The kids and I plan on doing Holy Heroes each day and I will be posting about this great site and resource on my blog soon! We did the Lenten Adventure through Holy Heroes this past Spring and it was wonderful and we look forward to our Advent Adventure with them :) Have a blessed Advent season!

Hi Laura!
Great to hear from you again! I hope you enjoy the Family Bucket idea! Thanks for your visit and comment and I'm glad I was able to email you the bucket pages :) Enjoy!

Hi Patty!
I've heard of Catholic Mosaic and also Christmas Mosaic. I know these are two great treasures and resources to use. I have borrowed the Catholic Mosaic manual from a friend :)

Hi Jen!
Thanks for your visit and comment! Anytime my children can open a gift there is fun for all :)

Hi Anna-Marie!
We just started reading Jotham's Journey and my children are hooked after the first chapter already so I hope you will enjoy it if you get it. There are other books in this series as well which you will see if you do a search for Jotham :) Thanks for your visit and support :)

Those are some great ideas! I finally got an Advent calendar to use this year. In past years I have just found some free resources online. I actually found something earlier today that may work well...we'll see. We also do the Christmas book a day, but I don't wrap them (too lazy)! ;o)

Hi Christine :)
Advent calendars are always fun too! I will be posting some of the calendars we use in our home soon that gradually make a picture of the Nativity. Thanks for your visit and comment :)

PS Christine: I just entered your Greathall productions CD giveaway! Thanks for hosting such a great giveaway! We have some of Weiss' storytelling CDs and love them!

Ginger said...

How are you liking Jotham? We read it last year. We are reading Bartholomew this year and it is just as good as Jotham. Love it!!!

HI Ginger!

We love Jotham! My kids hate when a chapter ends and asks me to keep reading on. It really is a good story and well written. We'll have to read Bartholomew and Tabitha in the future too. Have you read Tabitha too? Great to hear from you again and hope you are doing well :)

Anonymous said...

We are doing an advent calendar and countdown. Jesus has left the creche and will return Christmas Day and the the shepherd have started journey to the manger. They move little each day.

HI "JDaniel4's Mom"
I love the idea of Jesus returning on Christmas Day and the shepherd's moving each day! Our child friendly nativity pieces get scattered and never stay in one place at one time. Thanks for you visit and comment!

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