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Preparing for Christmas: Reading List

Over the years we have discovered many charming Christmas stories, and we try to add to our collection each year. Part of my preparations for Advent is compiling a list of books to share together over the coming nights. Here is a selection that we have come to love, and a couple we are to discover this year together. I have a range that is suitable for children of various ages. Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping the Greatest Gift We have used this Advent devotional for a couple of years now. Ann’s writing sparkles, and her style invokes a strong sense of Christmas. This devotional leads us through the Old Testament, and points the way to Bethlehem. I also use her adult devotional as well for my own quiet time. On that Christmas Night by Mary Joslin I love this retelling of the Christmas story. The illustrations are beautiful, and complement the text. Ituku’s Christmas Journey by Elena Pasquali We have had this story since Rebekah was a toddler. It tells the Christmas story through the eyes of a little eskimo boy journeying to see the new born baby Jesus. It follows in the tradition of Christmas stories like Babushka. Truly a delightful tale. Alfie’s Christmas by Shirley Hughes My boys love the Alfie books. And this tale of a traditional family Christmas is pure heart-warming joy. The Wee Christmas Cabin of Carn-na-ween by Ruth Sawyer This sad Christmas fairy tale set at the time of the Irish potato famine is unlike the other books listed. It follows the life of a poor abandoned orphan and how the little “gentle people” reward her, as her life of kindness and hardship, comes to an end. Starlight in Tourrone by Suzanne Butler This is a story we have yet to read, so I cannot make any comment on it so far 🙂 I Saw Three Ships by Elizabeth Goudge I loved this story last year. It is a sheer joy. The text is wonderful. The story is one of hope and healing. The Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumer Godden I have not read this but Rebekah enjoyed it. It is the tale of an orphan girl, and old woman, and a doll. I have been told that the boys will really enjoy it. The Bakers Dozen by Aaron Shepard This is another story we have been reading for a few Christmases now. It is a story of St Nicholas set in a Dutch colonial town in America. The illustrations in this story are also beautiful. The Gift of the Magi by...

Some Ideas for Christmas and Advent Traditions.

Christmas is a natural time of year for family traditions. Creating family traditions has been shown to strengthen family bonds and increase a child’s sense of security. How often are our memories of our own childhood centred around the traditions we had as a child? I saw a lovely idea of creating a 12-Days-of-Christmas-Bucket-List, I like this as it creates a framework to work from, but is not too overwhelming. So I have created my own, which reflects our family. Christmas baking: I love making Christmas cake, but I also love Christmas breads. I try to do at least one, usually stollen or Jesus Bread (although I’m totally rubbish at moulding breads into decorative shapes). Read Christmas books. We use the Ann Voskamp Christmas devotional, “Unwrapping the Greatest Gift”. Another favourite is “The Baker’s Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale by Aaron Shepard, last year this was a particular favourite with Jude. This year we are going to read “I Saw Three Ships” by Elizabeth Goudge. Gingerbread Men: following on from the Baker’s Dozen, we’ll make gingerbread men. Make ornaments for the Christmas tree. This year we are going to make home-made clay ornaments. Go carol singing: I love singing Christmas carols… enough said! When I asked Jude what he likes about Christmas he said “present [of course], singing Christmas songs, and the candles [see point 7]” Play Christmas music in the house. As well as going carol singing we play Christmas songs in the house :), instantly puts you in the festive spirit. Make an advent crown. This this simply a row of four candles on a plate, not so much a crown if the truth be told! We light one each on the advent Sundays as part of our family devotional time. Christmas crafts. This is one of those times of the year when I pluck up the courage to let out the glitter (hoover at the ready!)! I loved Christmas crafts as a child. This year I hope to make a Christmas wreath from things we have collected from the forest. We also make our own Christmas cards. Parties! With Beka’s birthday 3 days before Christmas it brings added fun to this time of year. I also like to have friends round, to share food and enjoy each other’s company. Wintry walks, we don’t always have a lot of snow at Christmas time here, but when we do it is extra special to go for a snowy walk. We live in hope for a white Christmas this year, Thomas currently thinks it is mandatory for Christmas to...

Celebrating Advent

We do not follow the liturgical calendar of the church, but I always hold Advent dear to my heart. Growing up in a traditional Church of Scotland the annual singing of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” heralded the beginning of Christmas. The haunting, sorrow; it’s shear beauty, touched me deeply. I could not understand why it seemed so full of sadness, when it was to usher in the start of Christmas? O Come O Come Emmanuel O come, O come, Emmanuel And ransom captive Israel That mourns in lonely exile here Until the Son of God appear Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel. O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free Thine own from Satan’s tyranny From depths of Hell Thy people save And give them victory o’er the grave Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel. O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer Our spirits by Thine advent here Disperse the gloomy clouds of night And death’s dark shadows put to flight. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel. O come, Thou Key of David, come, And open wide our heavenly home; Make safe the way that leads on high, And close the path to misery. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel. O come, O come, Thou Lord of might, Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height, In ancient times did’st give the Law, In cloud, and majesty and awe. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel. The carol is the very longing of our souls for the coming Saviour. Advent means “Coming”, we are celebrating the Coming of Jesus, both then, and the awaiting of His Coming.The knowledge of the sorry state of humanity without Jesus. During the Sundays of Advent we light the Advent Candles. These symbolise: Hope, Love, Joy, Peace. I believe there is a sense many “Comings” of Jesus. As we go through the Seasons of our faith there are times when the reality of different aspects of Jesus character are more “real” than others. We go through seasons of knowing the Joy of the Lord powerfully, then we go through other seasons where His Holiness has us awe-struck. But there are seasons when the Lord feels distant, where we can feel lost and alone. At such times we need an Advent in our lives. We need the Hope, Love, Joy and Peace of Jesus to flood our beings and bring renewal, healing and newness of life. Advent is a time to reorient our lives- cleaving, seeking Hope, Love, Joy and Peace: only...

Advent Bible Study for the Whole Family

Christmas is coming! Children have growing levels of excitement! Advent is a wonderful time not to only teach the “Christmas Story” but to delve deeper into why Jesus came. It is a time where you can go back to the beginning and explore the Word, to take a journey from Genesis to the manger in Bethlehem. We often do some sort of Jesse Tree. The Jesse Tree is a French tradition which his growing in popularity within the modern evangelical church. For a Jesse Tree you make different ornaments, with symbolic meaning. These tell the story from the Garden of Eden, to Fall, Noah’s Ark, Abraham, the Law and Prophets all the way to the birth of Jesus. There are many sites where you can print Jesse Tree ornaments to make with children. We also use a simple Bible Study, suitable for younger children, so the whole family can take part. I found one by Ann Voskamp on the Homelife website. This Advent Bible Study is a perfect length to use with children, and can easily be used along with a Jesse Tree. Jesse Tree Links A Holy Experience Jesse Tree Faithful Provisions The Crafty Journal Share this:PrintFacebookTwitterEmailLike this:Like...

Frugal Ideas of Family Activities this Advent

I love Christmas, I love the run up to it all. And now we are in December it is time to throw ourselves into the festive spirit. Year in year out Christmas comes, and the financial pressure mounts- it’s all just so expensive! But Christmas is not about how much we spend, it’s about family, love… worship, Christ. I want to create the memories of fab Christmases, but I don’t want to feel totally stressed by the financial pressure. So here are some Christmas ideas to bring joy to the home, but not break the bank! 1.Make Christmas Tree Decorations Make a salt dough ornament: 2 cups flour 1 cup water ½ cup salt 1 tsp instant coffee Mix the coffee into the water (this gives a bit of colour, leave out if you like). Then mix all the dry ingredients together. Add the water, and knead into a dough. Use cookie cutters to make Christmas shapes. Put a hole in the top with a straw or pencil. Bake in a cool oven- 170° for about 1 hour 15 mins, until the dough is hard. When cold decorate the shapes and tie for cord to them so they can hang off the tree. 2. Visit a Christmas Market Even if you are not buying, they are really beautiful! 3. Homemade Christmas Presents These have the double benefit- do something for someone else, plus you make someones present. We have annual stand-bys in the this department- both curtesy of Nigella Lawson! Her Christmas cookies, and her Chilli Jam. The Chilli Jam is gorgeous, I make sure to make enough to have a small jar for us! 4. Christmas Crafts! I loved Christmas crafts at school, and this is a time of year you can make lots of different Crafts and use them to decorate the house! I found this site a few years ago- don’t be fooled by it’s appearance, it is a goldmine of great craft ideas for Christmas Audrey’s Christmas Page 5. Christmas Letter Writing I write a Christmas letter every year to send out in Christmas cards, this year The Girl will be doing likewise. She can tell distant family and friends what she has been up to this year. 6. Christmas Card Making Honestly I can’t be bothered by cards. Mass produced, bits of card, that clutter up the mantle piece. I object to having to spend money on something that is going to end up in the recycling box. BUT I do like something that has meaning. When children put some effort into making cards...
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