Friday, February 22, 2013

Keeping Christ in Christmas

"I’m participating in the Keeping Christ in Christmas Blog Carnival, hosted by Raising (& Teaching) Little SaintsTruly Rich Mom and Arma Dei: Equipping Catholic Families. We'll be sharing different ways, tips, stories and real-life experiences that will help us focus on Jesus as the Reason for the Christmas season. Please scroll down to the end of the post to see the list of carnival entries.”
I was born into a Catholic family. We attended Mass every Sunday and on Holy days. But as a child, Christmas was more about Santa and the presents. We went to Mass, but we never celebrated the real reason for Christmas in our home.  After being away from my faith for many years, I vowed my children would have a stronger connection to their Catholic faith. I wanted them to understand our beliefs and traditions. In our house, we still do Santa but have stressed the real meaning of Christmas.
I think we have found a wonderful balance that works for us.
During Advent, we prepare ourselves for the birth of Jesus and his second coming. We go to confession to clean our hearts as my little ones say. Right now, Lego Man and I are the only ones that go. Princess P will be able to join us after she makes her First Penance this February. Princess P has been wearing her sacrifice beads to help her focus on getting her heart ready. This year the children made a tiny manger out of popsicle sticks and are adding a piece of straw to it. By the end of this Advent season, they will have a wonderful place for Baby Jesus to lay.
We have an Advent Wreath.
Sadly, I had one even before I really knew what we were supposed to do with it. There was one in church every Advent, but I did not grow up with one in my house. I knew nothing about the prayers, songs or bible passages that went along with it. I just thought it was a pretty decoration to add to your table. I have been trying to teach my children the meaning behind the Advent wreath and how it helps us prepare for the coming of our Lord. We do daily readings and sing Advent songs. This year the singing has been a little challenging since Lego Man doesn't enjoy singing. I am trying to find new ways to encourage him.
 We have a Jesse Tree that we decorate each year. We started this tradition three years ago. This year, we made our own felt ornaments.
We got rid of our worn out paper ornaments and enjoyed making them together as a family. We read the Bible stories to go along with the ornaments each day. The kids enjoy listening to the stories and putting the ornaments on the tree. It has become one of their favorite Christmas traditions.
One tradition we started this year is reading different Christmas stories each night at bed. I went through all of our books and the library to find books about the first Christmas or stories that reinforce the real meaning of Christmas. By reading books about Jesus and the real meaning of Christmas I hope they are having visions of Jesus, Mary and Joseph dancing in their heads.
We participated in the Holy Heroes Advent Adventure this Advent season.
The kids enjoy watching the videos. They pray along with the kids and I love that they are seeing other children that are focused on their faith.
In our house, we have 4 different Nativity scenes displayed.
Two are located upstairs and two downstairs. Princess P still enjoys playing with the Fisher Price Nativity set we got years ago. None of our sets are big or fancy but they remind us to put Jesus first in our hearts.
Within the past 2 years, I have focused more on finding religious ornaments and decorations. I am slowly replacing the Santa and commercialized holiday items with ones to reflect our faith. I want my kids to walk into a room and know that Jesus is the most important reason for this holiday not some guy in a red suit.
We decorate the outside bushes with white lights to remind us Jesus is the light. We turn the lights on the Third Sunday of Advent. I will admit that I get the lights on the bushes on a warm day, but don't turn them on until the Guadete Sunday.
I make the point of sending our religious Christmas cards. I love cards with the Nativity scene on them. I find the images peaceful and hopeful. I even try to find religious stickers to seal the envelopes and religious stamps. I hope when someone receives one of these cards in the mail they are reminded of Jesus Christ.
Every year, we take two ornament tags of the tree at church. Lego Man and Princess P pick two children to buy presents for. We talk about how some families are less fortunate than ourselves. This was especially important this year for us after going through our own difficult time this past year. By buying a gift for these two little children,  they will get to experience the joy of Christmas. This is a wonderful way for my children to follow the example of Saint Nicholas and Saint Lucia. There is no better gift than the gift of giving.
We do decorate fairly early for Christmas. We start decorating the house the week after Thanksgiving. It allows us to get everything ready for the Christmas season. We are preparing the way for our special guest. We can then relax and enjoy the Advent season. Having the decorations up reminds me to slow down and enjoy the gift Jesus gave to us. Seeing the decorations fills me with hope and joy.
Our homeschooling  studies takes a more relaxed approach too. We focus on feast days, bible readings, bible coloring pages and just spending quality time as a family. We work on crafts and gifts for our family members. We did work on learning O Come, O Come, Emmanuel in Latin this year. We definitely have the first two verses down. Hopefully, we will get it all down soon. Princess P has done the best with it.
Our biggest goal during the Advent and Christmas season is to spend more time together as a family and focus on Jesus. In the hustle and bustle of today's society I think we easily forget about what should truly matter in this world.
Here are the links to the other blog carnival participants. I hope you'll take the time to visit them and leave a comment on their posts! :) The list will be updated throughout the day, so please do come back and check on them. God bless us all!
Homeschool Mosaics: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Joy: Keeping Christ in Christmas: Advent Interruptions
The Breadbox Letters: Interrupted by Glory
TwentyTuesdayAfternoons: Keeping Christ in Christmas/ The Season of Giving / A Wee Bit of Beach Holiday Angst
The Learning Basket: Staying With the Nativity Story
Tercets: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Rosary Mom: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Ate Maui: Hoping and Bringing Hope
Written By the Finger of God: 12 Traditions for Keeping Christ in Christmas
Dominique's Desk: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Felix at Fifty: What Jesus Wants for Christmas
Mommy Bares All: Birthday Cake for the Birthday Boy on Christmas Day
Between Now and Later: Keeping Christ in Christmas, I am trying...
Lique's Antics: Family Antics: Christmas Reflection
Life of Fortunate Chances: Our First Ever Christmas: Keeping Christ in Christmas
The Mommy Journey: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Roller Coaster Ride: How to Remind Your Kids of Jesus Christ This Christmas
Cymplified: Christ -Centered Christmas: Cymplified!
Mountain Grace: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Touring Kitty: Grown-up Christmas List
Mommy Chinkysoup for the Soul: A Very Special Christmas
City Girl, Country Home: Finding Jesus in a Flurry
Coffee Moments with Sam: Christmas Unwrapped: 5 Presents Our Kids Truly Deserve
Raising Lifelong Learners: Keeping Christ in Christmas
The Diary of a Sower: Keeping Christ in Christmas: Celebrating the Golden Days
Arma Dei: Equipping Catholic Families: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Raising (and Teaching) Little Saints: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Truly Rich Mom: The Greatest Gift of All This Christmas
Joy-Filled Family: CHRIST in Christmas
Blueberry 010: Keeping Christ in Christmas: Jesus is the Reason for the Season
Deeper Truth Blog: Keeping Christ in Christmas Carnival
Holy Ducklings: 10 Ways to Make Advent Special for Your Little Ducklings
Green Eggs and Moms: Keeping Christ in Christmas: Green Eggs & Moms Style!

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