I want to insititue more family traditions around advent and Christmas to put the focus more on giving to others and spirituality than on just getting presents. My 8 yo is very interested in spiritual things and loves the music and stories. However, my 5 yo will go running anytime he detects a hint of anything remotely spiritual. We frequently read about Jesus' birth all throughout the year so they're well aware of that.
I am going to do an advent calendar to hopefully get them excited about opening a door each day and reading what's underneath.
I have heard about moving baby Jesus (or the magi?) closer to the stable every day as Christmas approaches- that might be fun, and more visual for them.
What else do you do to include the kids, make it hands-on and memorable, and have a deeper meaning other than just one day of presents, and occasional reading of the Christmas story?
You should look into the history of St. Nick and teach him about that. There's a reason the real man became a Saint!
E, wife to D, mommy to G (born March 2010).
For Advent, I like using an Advent Wreath and a Jesse Tree.
We use the large tree as the Jesse tree until Christmas Eve, when we decorate it- so until then, just white lights and purple/pink garland, and one new ornament each day til Christmas.
As for Santa, we do St. Nicholas on St. Nicholas Day on 6 Dec- 3 chocolate coins (one for each daughter), a gingerbread man (to represent the children, who St. Nicholas is the patron saint of), and a small gift. On Christmas, Father Christmas/St. Nicholas brings small gifts for the stockings- Mama is the one who gives the actual presents.
DD came up with the St. Nicholas/Father Christmas connection.
The tree also stays up until Epiphany, because that's the Christmas Season!
28 Nov- 24 Dec = Advent
25 Dec = Christmas (beginning of the Christmas season)
26 Dec - 5 Jan = Christmas Season
6 Jan = Epiphany (end of the Christmas season)
Proud Catholic (30) and mama to V (10)
We have an advent calender (though it actually only starts dec 1st, but it is lovely and grandma made it.) This year we are doing a Jesse Tree, and the girls seem to love it. The younger one doesn't care much about the readings, but she enjoys colouring the pictures and sticking them on the tree.
We sometimes have a fast, but we aren't this year because I am nursing two and have been sick. We also usually put up the creche and hide Jesus until Christmas. (The Wise men arrive for epiphany, journeying across the room.)
The girls are learning The Huron Carol to sing at Christmas to the family.
St Nick is coming to visit the kids at church this Sunday.
For myself, I am reading On the Incarnation by St Athanasius.
My kids are 5 and 2, so we try to keep it simple. We have an advent wreath, and my goal is to pick two or three nights a week when we light the candles after dinner and sing a verse of "O Come Emanuel". And then I have a bunch of bells for the kids to shake when we come to the line "Rejoice!" The kids seem to think it's fun, though I feel a little self-conscious carrying the tune by myself (dh often doesn't get home until late).
We're also doing a Sunday school advent class one night a week, and they're making a Jesse tree.
Thought about setting up the tree and adding a new element every week (lights one week, ornaments the next, etc.) but it seemed too fussy.
We're mostly listening to advent music around the house.
For myself, I am reading a chapter out of this book every day
mama to H. 4/05 and A. 9/08 and baby C. 10/11
We celebrate Yule, which is not all that different. I've decided that I do celebrate the 12 days of Yule, from the Solstice to the New Year (so the 3rd & 4th days of Yule are Christmas with the extended family).
With about 6 weeks between each of our holy days, we had been talking about how to practice the transitions.
My mother-in-law bought us a few advent calendars, so we just put them up this weekend. This year we're using the days of December. Next year we might count 24 days back from Yule, I haven't decided.
We're also decorating our tree in stages. Two weekends ago we put up the tree itself, with skirt. This past weekend we added the lights. Next weekend we'll add something else (perhaps the plain bulb ornaments). And the weekend after, we'll add a new thing (perhaps the memento ornaments).
We have several holiday movies on DVD, so I had figured we'd use those for our Friday night movie nights. We ended up going through three of them while my in-laws were in town, but there's others around. My movies have been more like The Grinch who Stole Christmas, Frosty the Snowman, and Rudolph, talking values more than specific religious discussions, but you certainly could use more religious ones.
Thanks for all your suggestions! My advent calendar is in the mail, so we'll be doing that but starting late! Hope to go to the library today and find some decent books on St. Nicholas and other aspects of the season. I think an advent wreath would go over well- they love anything to do with candles. Now just have to find some evergreen branches to do a makeshift one of our own- I can't do any more errands!!
About that....How does that work exactly? The only Advent calendars available commercially (at least that I can find) start on December 1. Are there any available that actually start on the first Sunday of Advent? I'm learning to crochet, so I might just make my own for next year.
I've never seen one, but I don't really see why not - it is easy enough to just do the weeks of Advent. Maybe there just isn't much demand.
I did a google search - here are a few available online