Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Day

Read the Christmas story in Luke together. Sing Christmas carols now that Christ has come!!! Light your Christmas candle; now the Advent wreath can blaze in its full glory. We all have our own personal family traditions. Remember to talk to your children about why we do the things we do. Keep the meaning in tradition!


(and for a Christmas follow up, now is the time to start teaching your children to write thank you notes. Read to them the story of the ten lepers in Luke and talk about how important it is to say' thank you'. For ones who are too little to write a thank you note, have them color a picture instead (I'm sure you could even find one of the ten lepers on the internet).)

Week 6: Communion (color: red, December 23)

This is the very last candle lighting before Christmas. He who came and will come again is present with us in the sacrament of Holy Communion.

"And the Word became flesh , and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1: 14
"He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day." John 6: 54
For the Little Ones: It is this sacrament that allowed Paul to say Christ lives in Him. And we can do the same through our own participation. To encourage talking about how Christ lives in us, build Gingerbread Houses with your children (so very Christmas-y). Talk about how our bodies our also houses that God can live in and discuss the Eucharist with your children.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Week 5: Repentance (color: purple, December 16th, 2007)

"Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the Gospel of God, and saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the Gospel.'" Mark 1:14-15

As always, I suggest purchasing the book I mentioned in my previous post. It contains evening readings for the Sundays in Advent, suggested hymns to sing, special prayers and discussion topics pertinent to the readings.

For the Little Ones: The Candy Cane looks like the staff that the shepherd uses to bring his sheep back into the flock. Jesus is our Good Shepherd who brings us back to God. The white stripe reminds us of Jesus' innocence. The red stripe reminds us of the blood he shed for us. John 10:11: "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep."

Candy canes are a very appropriate craft theme for this week. They remind us of our Good Shepherd who calls us to repentance and grants us life through the blood he shed. Another plus: they are very 'Christmas-y' and there are tons of activities/crafts you can do with them. Here are a few ideas for starters:

1. Tell your kids the story of the candy cane and color this page.
2. Clay/Play dough candy canes (perfect for toddlers)--Moms: roll out red and white play dough into long strips. Show your child how to wrap the strips around to make a candy cane pattern. Continue wrapping until the play dough is used up. Have your child shape it into a candy cane shape and leave out to dry. When dry, tie a ribbon around it and hang it up, or hang it on your Christmas tree. (you can do a similar thing with cookie dough).
3. Get a white candle and have your kids glue candy canes around for a candy cane candle to light on Christmas day.
4. For toddlers, draw a candy cane shape unto a piece of white paper and have your child draw on the stripes. Then have your child count how many stripes he/she drew (red or white). That's simply for math practice. (:
5. Candy Cane Balance (for multiple children): Supply each child with a candy cane. Ask them to balance it on their head. Then have the children race (you'll pick the course). Whoever makes it to the finishing line first without dropping their cane wins (when cane falls, they return to the beginning!).

Sunday of our Forefathers

This Sunday is the nameday of my husband, Jesse and our godson, Davede (David). On this day, we get our Christmas tree (to symbolize the tree of Jesse). We read special Western Orthodox blessing of the tree prayers (which I can post later if people desire) and will place a star on the tree (for the star of David)...we won't decorate the tree till Christmas Eve, though (our own tradition).

We will have friends join us for the blessing of the tree and supper. We'll sing some Advent hymns together, read some Psalms in memory of King David and send friends away with their own little trees (courtesy of Trader Joe's) and some homemade star-shaped cookies (for the star of David).

*** The Sunday of our Forefathers is celebrated on Sunday, Dec 11 or the first Sunday after Dec. 11th).

December 13th: Lucy Light!!!

This thursday is the name day of my dear eldest daughter, Lucy Rose. We are having a party!!! Lucy has a lovely crown of candles (battery operated, thanks to her loving godparents), a beautiful white dress which she picked and a red sash (the latter of which I am in the process of sewing). In Swedish/Scandinavian tradition (of which my husband descends from), it is traditional for the eldest daughter to awake the family with a tray of Lucia bread in the above costume. Due to the age of our children (5 months, 2 years and 3 years), we have decided to instead have an early evening Santa Lucia Tea and have invited some church friends to join us. (For more Lucy customs, see here).

I have a lovely recording of Elvis Presley's version of the Italian Santa Lucia song to play while guests come. Then we will all learn the St. Lucy song together and sing it while Lucy brings out the Lucia bread in her lovely costume. We will feast on fast appropriate tea treats and read the devotion from Ohrid's Prologue for St. Lucy. Guests will be sent home with gifts (candles wrapped up with red ribbons).

***In families where there isn't a daughter named Lucy, it is still a tradition in many cultures to have the eldest (in some the youngest) daughter play the role of Santa Lucia.