Tuesday, December 18, 2012


For this year's Christmas season, I wanted to have an official Advent celebration.  We
have always filled the days leading up to Christmas with fun family activities and acts
of service but, this year, I wanted to center all of these fun nights around an
important message.  I wanted the girls to understand why we do certain things, to
teach them our family's values and allow them to take away the message that Christmas
is not about gifts but about spending time with the ones you love, gathering in
fellowship over the magic of the season.

I found a glittery box and deemed it "The Advent Box".  Shawn and I explained to the
girls that they were to check the box each day for a special message, that each
message would include an activity for us to do as a family.  They were ecstatic:
Isabelle eagerly opening the box and reading the first message aloud, Brees looking on
with wide eyed curiosity.  We have kept the activities simple: a popcorn and
Christmas movie night in the living room, decorating the Christmas tree, reading "The
Polar Express" over a cup of hot chocolate.   We have tried to wrap each message
and activity around our spiritual beliefs as much as possible: delivering gifts to loved ones
as the three wise men did to the baby Jesus, reading the Christmas story and making
our own nativity.  The beauty is in the simplicity: children don't need elaborate,
expensive adventures.  They just need our time and our love, they need to feel the
warmth and togetherness that defines this time of year.
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One of my favorite Advent activities so far was our pajama cookie party this past
weekend.  We gathered our dear friends in the kitchen, cranked up some Christmas
tunes, and baked a giant batch of cookies.  We set our dining room table up with
sprinkles and home made icing and laughed at our lack of decorating skills.  Shawn called
us all outside for a fireworks display: his party specialty.  Sitting out in the semi-cold
weather (Louisiana is just NOT giving in to winter this year) with your most special
people, gazing at the big night sky: it just doesn't get better than that.  We ended the
night with sleepy time tea, sprawled all around our living room, and watched "Elf".  And
just like that, we decided that a new tradition was born.  

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And because sharing is caring, here's a list of our Advent activities this year.  Please
share your family's Advent traditions with me in the comment section, I'd love to hear 
your ideas!
Decorate the house and Christmas tree
Bake holiday cookies and give them out as gifts
Bring canned goods to our local soup kitchen, The Manna House
Send out Christmas cards to family and friends
Visit Santa Claus and take a keepsake photo
Have a family popcorn and Christmas movie night party
Gather toys and clothes you would like to donate and bring them to a family in need
Attend the Holiday Light Safari at the zoo
Read "The Polar Express" over some hot chocolate
Sing some of our favorite Christmas carols and discuss their meaning
Make homemade Christmas ornaments
Decorate a gingerbread house
Put money in the Salvation Army bucket
Drive around town looking at Christmas lights
Pick out, wrap, and donate a toy to Toys For Tots
Take a trip to the mall to buy something special for your sister with your own allowance
Visit the residents at our local nursing home

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