This post is for letter “M” in the 2016 ABCs of Homeschooling Through the Holidays series, click here to see all posts.
10 Ways to Fill Your Family Christmas With Magical Memories
There is something about Christmas that instills in all of us a sense of peace, of great love, of hope, and of joy. Christmas mornings are a time where we build memories together that last. The Christmas season is a time when the world remembers kindness and giving. To me, Christmas is ultimately about love.
I was born on December 23rd and taken home to meet my sisters on Christmas Day. I was sent home in a Christmas stocking. It makes sense then, that I believe in Christmas miracles. Here I was, a brand new life, welcomed into a home full of twinkling lights, smiling family surrounded me. I was presented as a gift to those who I would learn to love so deeply. My family was my first Christmas gift!
Christmas still amazes me. Perhaps my introduction into the world being at this time of year, and having the opportunity to spend my birthdays on vacation from school, surrounded by the Christmas Spirit, carolers at my doorstep, deep in the heart of a snow white Maine winter, is why I hold it so dear. But it is more than that.
As a Christian, I see God daily. I love Him and know that I am loved by Him. He created me and gave me purpose. I feel so blessed because I know that I am His. And because I have His word to guide me and His presence to comfort me.
Christmas is a time of year when Nativity scenes are lovingly laid out on street corners and front yards, shining beneath glowing stars. It is a time when songs are sung about how great He is. It is a time when the telling of Christ's birth is spoken over and over again. The world hears and is reminded of the greatest miracle this world has ever seen. It is a time when even though too much of the world tends to deny Him, no one can effectively challenge His presence. It is everywhere.
When we reach out to the poor and needy, when we send cards to friends and neighbors, when we give of ourselves and share gifts and time with those we love, we honor Him. While the world may try to take Christ out of Christmas, it can not be done. He reigns, and His love and power are evident to everyone at this time of year. Christ is Christmas and that is why it is so beautiful, so full of genuine love, of selflessness, of hope, peace, gratitude, and love. It is simply so full of Him.
So that is why I adore it! Below I am sharing the things that make Christmas a magical experience for our family.
The Christmas Tree
I put my Christmas tree up on Thanksgiving night. I can't start the season early enough. We put in a Christmas movie, we have freshly baked cookies and hot chocolate, and we build a fire in the fireplace. My son and I love opening each box of ornaments. Each one has a story, a memory encased within. We take our time. And as we lift each ornament to its evergreen branch, we feel so grateful for each other and the times we have had together to love each other fully. The decorating of the Christmas Tree is the beginning of the season and we treasure it.
Sending Christmas Cards to Our Troops
Christmas is about gratitude so we gather together to write out Christmas cards for the troops. My son actually started this tradition after hearing about some of his friends who would not have their family members home for the holidays. We owe so much to the men and women who have dedicated their lives and sacrificed for our safety and our freedom. We offer this small gesture in hopes that we may brighten their Christmas morning and remind them that we are so grateful! This needs to be done early because most mail takes a few weeks to get overseas. This year we are using Hugs for Soldiers and they need theirs by November 26th. Thanksgiving is the 24th this year so in order to have them there in time we will be doing ours extra early.
Christmas Games with Family and Friends
There is nothing better than a family gathered together, playing and laughing and making memories. T may not remember what he got for Christmas gifts two years ago but he remembers that he was Eddie from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation when we played the 20 Questions Name Game. He remembers that his Dad had Mrs. Claus taped to his back. He remembers, and that's what matters. So we make game playing a big part of our Christmas Party Celebrations. Some of our favorites are Naughty and Nice which you can find at thecraftyblogstalker.com and Christmas Trivia which you can find at party411.com. Here is my post with more Christmas Games!
The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other. ~ Burton Hillis
Christmas Music – The Symphony
Every year my sister, my Mom, T, and I head to Milligan College for their Christmas Symphony. We enter Seeger Chapel which is fully adorned for Christmas and offers such a welcoming warmth that you can't help but sigh at the beauty of it. We listen as the choir and the orchestra lift our spirits together and true Christmas is ours. God is fully present. This concludes with a candle light singing of Silent Night that is moving beyond words. It is one of my favorite parts of the Christmas season. I encourage you to attend a symphony with your family. It's a tradition worth keeping.
We love Christmas movies and while we watch them all season long, we have started a tradition where we invite our family to watch The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. We make Grinch popcorn (click here for the recipe), hot cocoa, get the fireplace roaring and hand out pillows and blankets and watch it together. I am a huge Dr. Suess fan so this is one I can't get enough of. We also have an evening with my Mom where we gather to watch her favorite, Miracle on 34th Street. Movie Nights are a great way to spend time with family especially when the story touches your heart.
He puzzled and puzzled till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. Maybe Christmas, he thought… doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps… means a little bit more!
Seeing the Lights
I love the cheerfulness of twinkling lights! The hunt for the homes with the best decorations is also a great part of our Christmas fun! We have a favorite right here in town. There is a farm that goes all out and as soon as it is up I always take their route home. I can't get enough of it. The fences are all alight with warm yellow lights, the pathway to their house is decorated to the fullest and just before their doorstep sits a lovely nativity scene, no detail left forgotten. It is absolutely beautiful. We also are blessed to live near the Bristol Motor Speedway and their Christmas in Lights show is one of the largest in the nation. It is amazing. They also offer a skating rink, hot chocolate, and other goodies. It's become one fo our favorite holiday outings.
For Christmas is tradition time – Traditions that recall – The precious memories down the years, – The sameness of them all.” ~ Helen Lowrie Marshall
Donate to Those In Need
All year long we feel inspired to give to those in need but this desire feels especially important at Christmas. We love to adopt an Angel from the Angel Tree, to donate food for Christmas dinners through our church, we donate jackets and warm clothing, and we participate in the Toys for Tots programs in our community. After Christmas, we also do an inventory and donate used toys and games to the Coalition for Kids. I want T to remember that it is more important that we give then we receive. I want him to know in his heart that these moments to reach out are Christ inspired, and therefore among the most treasured traditions we keep at Christmas. Hopefully, as a full grown man, this way of celebrating will be a precious part of his Christmas season his whole life through.
Christmas is most truly Christmas when we celebrate it by giving the light of love to those who need it most. ~ Ruth Carter Stapleton
Gifts for Neighbors
We are especially grateful to have been blessed with amazing neighbors. They share in our lives, reaching out with love and kindness on our harder days, and with inspiration and celebration during our brightest days. We love our neighbors. Sometimes as the holidays draw close it is hard to find time for everything but we always make time to bake cupcakes and cookies for our neighbors and deliver them. Growing up in a small town in Maine, I knew and loved every neighbor and they knew my family very personally. They call my hometown, The Village. And it is that in every sense. A giant family, united, determined to take care of one another no matter what. I still miss my hometown. When I first moved to Tennessee I didn't even know the names of my neighbors and I admit that was my fault. I never reached out. It was a huge mistake and one that I regret. When my husband and I moved into this community I knew I didn't want to let that happen again so we made time to go visit and introduce ourselves. I can not express how amazing was my reward. Christmas seems the perfect time to let our neighbors know how much we value them and how much they mean to our family. This is a tradition that no matter how long the to-do list has become, I will continue.
Christmas, my child, is love in action. ~ Dale Evans
T and I made our first Christmas Gingerbread House when he was just two years old and we have made one every year since. We buy a kit and extra candy and put in a Christmas movie and create. T is an artist and a chef, and his Gingerbread House is always gorgeous and delicious. It adds a sweet touch to our Christmas and there is something about the anticipation of eating it that adds to our excitement. This is a simple way to spend time together. We both look forward to making one and when at last its time to eat it, we do that together too. Sometimes its the little things…
I love the excitement, the childlike spirit of innocence and just about everything that goes along with Christmas. ~ Hillary Scott
Christmas Eve Gifts
Christmas Eve is a busy time for our family. We enjoy two Christmas Celebrations on Christmas Eve and it is always a wonderful experience. When at last we get home, the anticipation of Christmas morning is absolutely electric. I prepare my Blueberry Lemon Bread Pudding and tuck in the fridge. We look forward to the early morning arrival of my Mom and grandmother. We choose which gift we will open first the next morning. We make guesses as to what our packages hold and then it is time for our Christmas Eve gifts. They always contain Pajamas and warm socks. When T was little I also included a Christmas book every year. We also each get a new mug and hot cocoa packets for T and I and an Apple Cider packet for Mr. Wonderful. I usually include something sweet as well. The best part though is the card enclosed. I make one for each of us which contains Scripture to remind us of the real reason for the season. We read them aloud, go change into our new pajamas and settle in for one last Christmas movie.
For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. ~ Isaiah 9:6
These are our favorite Christmas traditions and each in its own way helps to create memories so lovely that they feel magical. From my family to yours, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! A little gift for you is below!
I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year! ~ Charles Dickens, Ebeneezer Scrooge, A Christmas Carol
My name is Gwen and I live and love in East Tennessee. I have been blessed with an amazing husband and an incredible son.! I blog at www.geezgwen.com. I originally started my blog because a few years ago, I started homeschooling my son, and it has been a journey full of adventure – a journey I wanted to share because I honestly love it, I see the value and rewards it has blessed my son with, it challenges me, and it is a big part of who I am. I also welcome you into my world with my blog. This is about my life, and there is far more than homeschool. There is cooking which I love! I am currently a bit obsessed with all things Mediterranean. I also love to capture moments – moments I see either beauty or magic or pain within. I do this with my camera and through storytelling. I have been telling stories since I could speak. A single word can say so much, and that’s why I love to put them together like single ingredients in this whole potion that once released entertains, teaches and hopefully makes you either laugh or cry a happy tear.
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