I miss the smell of a real Christmas tree. We have been using a fake one for several years, and it is beautiful. And, well, an imitation. I doesn’t bring back memories I hold dearly the fragrance of Pine does.
Where I grew up there were large tree farms, nestled into the foothills. I couldn’t WAIT to go pick out our tree. We’d carefully search the rows, walking around looking for bare spots, Dad checking the trunk for straightness. This is a tradition we were able to carry on with our girls each time we’d go back home, until a few years ago when the last hold out finally sold their land for real estate development. The farm would tag our tree until we came back to pick it up close to Christmas. Wonderful memories, mostly.
There was that one year. Remember those foothills? One farm had rather steep developments so the trees were in levels. My dad thought it would be funny to go one row down. Just as I leaned in (evening, mind you. As the years go by, the darker it becomes) he reached out and grabbed my ankle to startle me. It was effective. I didn’t laugh, and as I remember, I don’t think my mother did either. Ah, but that was just one memory.
The rest were pure delight.
When I was around 8, a crafty afternoon was spent creating this beautiful angel tree topper. Foil wrapped T.P. tube, curling ribbon mane of gold. I was proud for about one Christmas.
Her beauty faded in my eyes, but not for my parents. They refused to remove her for some years, and by the time they did, I started to feel nostalgic for her. I am grateful she is still snugly tucked into their box of decorations.
I begged for her return a few years back, and to see my dad placing her on the top brought a daughter’s heart delight.
To honor my own sense of seeking a deeper connection with the Christ in Christmas, I have invited 4 talented writers to share how they experience the Advent.
Each Advent weekend a guest blogger will share from their hearts, and I hope you will welcome them by reflecting on their words. They represent different corners of the world, and a unique walks of life. I think you will enjoy them…
Advent used to mean little me except for being part of a liturgical calendar in my Episcopalian upbringing. As I grew in my own faith, the importance of stopping to ponder and prepare our hearts in celebration of Christ’s birth took on a new meaning. Not a denominational view, a personal longing.
Want to learn more? Our celebrations have been geared toward less focus on ourselves, and spending time teaching our kids to focus on what Christ is about. Not just 4 Sundays of preparation, or archaic church activities. Genuine time to slow down and turn off the outside noise.
May I suggest a few resources? Read the rest of this entry
I was staggering under the weight of choice at the library, out of curiosity I asked the staff to tell me how many books are there. No one could even guesstimate. I went to the bookstore, same question. No answers. If you love a good read as much as I do, then here are a few paper morsels that might entice you. They are divided among approximate age groups, but to anyone who remembers the thrill of riding across the prairie with the Ingalls—the books for the younger crowds often make the best stories.
The list will by updated as often as I finish something, so check back. Read the rest of this entry
Let me tell you about this girl, she is the real deal. I have known her since she was a young child and though she is just 14 her writing inspires me! In fact, her dedication has kept ME writing, and I hope you’ll take a moment to check out her blog. Support this budding artist. She has published a beautifully done devotional book for kids already, and truly means what she says here. Please share her blog with kids and teens in your life. They will be blessed. I have to admit, I love her entire family. They are creative, wonderful people. Her precious sister Haley is a singer/songwriter and at 16 just recorded her first album. I would definitely recommend that too, it is heartfelt and beautiful. I am delighted to present to you, Talia DeAndrea Read the rest of this entry
Let’s step out to the front porch for a minute. My friend had the great idea of using up some chalkboard paint…on our pumpkins! Read the rest of this entry
We are watching a set of DVDs called Travel the Road. The subtitle sums it up well: Two guys. One Mission. Zero guarantees.
These episodes have two young men who want to tell people about having a relationship with Jesus. They saved up money, got passports, and set out. They are very honest with what delights them, endangers them, and even scares them. Seeing graphic things that other cultures do as part of everyday life can be difficult to watch. But, it’s real. Front row. Their schedule is go where God seems to open doors until the money runs out. It takes every ounce of romanticism about this lifestyle and rips it up. In its place? A magnificent display of dedication, adventure and how desperately people need hope.
Since we homeschool, these DVDs will be part of a Missionary Studies course including great biographies. There is one idea, but regardless of how you school, all children I believe will benefit from these. Popcorn and movie night once a week perhaps? They are captivating for all age groups, and… might just be life changing.
When my girls were tiny we began a fun summer tradition of Christmas in July. While the weather blazed outside, I cranked up the air a bit and we created an imaginary cool day. Looking for something free and easy to do with your kids this last week of July? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
*Set the mood – Get out your favorite Christmas CDs or tune into Pandora (we like the Bing Crosby Christmas station)
*Create the environment – If you have piles of Christmas books, display them where kids can see them. Pull out a scarf and hat and pretend it is freezing (kids get a kick out of this part). Put out a few candles or a simple strand of lights if handy. Surprisingly, Hobby Lobby already has all their Christmas stuff out if you really want to get more elaborate here.
*Plan the activities – The internet is loaded with free sites to print off coloring pages and games. Make a recipe that is usually reserved for holidays. Gingerbread men are tasty any time of the year. Make ornaments out of salt dough. Read and reenact the Christmas story. Sheets can be used for a stable and/or clothing.
*Eat good things- The highlight of our day was making pancakes shaped like snowmen. Easy to do! Thin down the batter a bit for ease of pouring into shapes. Drink cocoa with marshmallows or cider.
This is one guaranteed way to create lasting memories with very little effort. What does your family do that is silly to beat the summer heat?