12 Days Of Christmas PRINTABLE

Christmas is just a few days away and I thought I would post something fun to share with your children or guests on Christmas Day. This may be old news to you, but I just was enlightened to the fact that the traditional Christmas song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” was possibly originally created as a way to teach about God during a time when teaching the Catholic Faith was illegal:

“According to the Handbook of Catholic Sacramentals by Ann Ball, the famous song about the 12 Days of Christmas was written in England as a catechism song for young Catholics in the days when it was illegal to practice or teach the Catholic Faith.  It contains hidden meanings intended to help children remember lessons of faith. ”  ~Dr. D’Ambrosio

This has not been proven, but it is an interesting story nonetheless.  I love anytime we can take something secular at Christmastime and use it to glorify God.

I created this PDF for you to print and share! PDF The Twelve Days Of Christmas

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Try “testing” your friends, children and family with fun game to see who can name the 11 Faithful Disciples, the 9 Fruits of the Spirit, etc.

Please feel free to print this printable and share!

xoxo,

Amy

Are You Resisting Change This Christmas?

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This year seemed to be a struggle to get our Christmas decorations up. Usually we pick a day soon after Thanksgiving for the massive explosion of gold ornaments and half lit light strings, extension cords and Christmas wall hangings all cheerfully (to Christmas music of course) to be placed in trees, on mantles and doors by our family in one long but satisfying afternoon.  This year, however,  it was a slow motion eruption that took days instead of hours.   And some decorations were left in the boxes–they are just not coming out this year.  And this all was frustrating to me, because this wasn’t how we usually did Christmas and I couldn’t change it.

Change has been knocking on our door for a while now and I have been resisting it.  It has been a gradual but monumental shift of how we do family life, all as a result of our children growing up.  We now have an 18, 15 and 13 year old, and they are tall and independent and busy.  But I still want them to be short and dependent and not so busy –or busy in a controllable sort of way, where I schedule the sports and play-dates around my mom-agenda for our family, like sitting together around the dinner table or 8:30 bedtime.

But that is not reality anymore.  They are busy being the people we have taught them to be; involved in church commitments, holding down jobs, being loyal friends and studious students.  Which means they are most often not all home together for dinner, or in bed early, or around on the weekends.  And I find myself resisting this all the time.  I am constantly surprised and often frustrated at how little we all sit down together at the dinner table, or when we would plan a time for all of us to go out to eat or watch a movie, inevitably someone has been scheduled to work or has a sports conflict.  My children feel like slippery jello through my mom-fingers.

And then this year change messed with a very important thing–Christmas Tradition.

Traditionally, for many years, we have formed a SUV caravan  with friends to Winter Park the Saturday after Thanksgiving to cut down a tree.  We meet at Starbucks at 9:00AM with our boots and hats and saws, make our plan and head off. We do this as a family, a whole family.  We spend the day trekking through the forest in search of the not-so-perfect Charlie Brown tree, and after all the families finish the hunt, we tailgate with cheese and bread and wine.  It is wonderful.  Then we drive back down the snowy roads of I70, drag the tree through our front door (always realizing it is way too tall),  crank up the reindeer and holy night music and create Christmas in our home for the evening.   Did I mention we always did this…all five of us?

Until this year.  We found out one of our children had to work at 2:00PM on the sacred tree cutting Saturday (and could not get out of it), another wasn’t feeling well, and my husband was exhausted from a marathon of work trips, and it just seemed like it was too much for our family this year.   We cancelled.  And as we sat on the couch watching football that day we told ourselves, “This was a good decision.” And it was.  But it was still difficult, and felt like more of the jello issue.  Our dear friends still went and brought us back the perfect tree– just without the memories.

Two days later the tree sat in its stand, half lit and unadorned because we just couldn’t get it together to decorate…anything.  It was like herding cats–my husband had to leave out of town again, the kids had church commitments and friend plans.  And I was being stubborn–I wanted us all to do this together, like we always did.

By Tuesday, I realized it was happening again–I was resisting change.

I pulled out the Christmas boxes from the basement and began to decorate.  I remembered an hour in to turn on the Christmas music, and began to do a little jig while placing gold balls all over our tree. The lights went up, the nutcrackers and Santas and manger and snowmen all took their respective places.  Later in the day Maddie, our youngest, walked in the door from school and exclaimed, “Holy Christmas!”  I smiled inside.  That night, when I considered not putting the garland wrapped up the stairs like I always do, my oldest daughter said, “Mom, you HAVE to do the garland up the stairs!”  I smiled again…some things don’t change.

The following weekend, when my husband and I snuck away for a quick anniversary trip, this same daughter drove to Target, bought outdoor Christmas lights that were missing, asked a good friend to come over to help, and ran extension cords and timers and red and white lights throughout the trees in our yard.

Well, this was new.

I have decided to stop resisting the fact that change is no longer knocking but has a recliner and a personalized coffee mug in our home.  I am learning this Christmas to look for the new traditions, the gifts the older children bring to our home and our life (like driving themselves to Target to help with Christmas decorating without being asked), and be okay when some traditions shift temporarily or even permanently.

Times are changing, and most likely they are for the good.

When I feel frustrated that things are “different” I am going to ask myself–where is the frustration coming from?  Am I being too controlling?  Is this an area where I am resisting instead of embracing change?

To Think About:

Jesus was a great implementer of change.  His birth and life challenged and frustrated many who resisted his message because it was different than their traditions and ways of life and thinking, but it changed EVERYTHING for us for good, for eternity.  Change and doing things a new way can be incredibly positive if we are willing to embrace it.

  1. What change are you resisting in your life?
  2. Why do you think you are resisting it?
  3. What things frustrate you that could possibly be a blessing if you embraced the change?

I wish you a blessed Christmas!!

xoxo,

Amy

 

 

HOW TO DECORATE A CHRISTMAS MANTLE

This past year I “officially” started a home design company-I say officially because I have been interested in design for several years but never truly did it as a paid job. I had a staging business with a friend for a few years, often help friends with ideas for their homes, and do a little happy dance whenever I find a Better Homes and Gardens magazine in my mailbox.

Stations of the Christmas Story–A Family Activity

 

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Yesterday our family braved the mall–the Saturday before Christmas.  Our annual tradition of shopping as a family and purchasing gifts for each other was a great day. After a quick pow wow to share ideas (small ones for the siblings to get each other) we split off into pairs to shop, texting each other with updates and location status throughout the afternoon.   There were tremendous crowds, long lines, returns as we realized we duplicated gifts, and more lines.  There was Christmas music, food, and beautiful decorations everywhere.  The air was filled with a buzzing of excitement.  We came home tired but successful on our mission–and as a mom, happy to see the kids scheme and strategize to get the perfect gift for each other.

Yet, it is not the full picture of Christmas.  There is a deeper river of meaning that flows through the season–one that easily might be missed as the 25th quickly approaches.  Which is why tonight, our family once again gathered to do something together this season, but something a little more serious, a little more, holy.

With the lights turned down, and candles lit, we invited our children and our oldest daughter’s boyfriend, Isaac, to join us in The Stations of The Christmas Story.  This is similar to “Stations of the Cross” but with a Christmas theme.  We moved throughout 7 stations, reading the Christmas Story in Luke and Matthew, and the kids writing responses in a journal we gave them.  At a couple of stations  a song was played, at some, just discussion and not writing.  My hope was to bring the story of Jesus’s birth into a more tangible form, something our family could take with us going forward, hoping to silence just a bit the wants and wishes and commercialism of the season.

We had a great discussion about angels (a theme that runs through the story) and tried to put ourselves in Mary and Joseph’s shoes as they traveled this journey together.  We listened and shared and did a little bribing with ice cream if everyone hung in there for the duration!

Here are the documents I created for the night.  Please feel free to print out and use, or tweak for your own taste if you want to try this with your family.  (When you click on link, it will take you to another page that you will need to click the link a second time).

Stations of The Christmas Story–leader guide

Stations Journal–Journal Cover

Stations–inside of Journal

The inside of the journal is not quite lined up right–you’ll see if you print it out.  Just cut down the middle and line up inside the journal cover.

 

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PLEASE don’t feel like you need to squeeze this in in the next few days before Christmas in order to complete the Christmas experience for your kids!  Maybe file it away for next year, and just read the Christmas story together.

Tips for the experience:

Dim the lights to create a nighttime scene–the candles are a great effect.

Set up 7 candle lit stations around the house, ending in a manger scene if you have one.

Move from station to station as a group.  The leader guide (first document) is helpful for the adult leading the group.  The group members carry their journals around with them.

Ask each child to have a bible with them–they can take turns reading the scripture.

For younger children:

Take out 2-3 of the stations for attention span.  You can re word the questions for age-appropriateness.

“Stress-mas?”…or Something Better

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Christmas is almost here.

What does that statement cause inside you? Stress because you are not ready for the guests and the food and the gifts?  Or excitement because you love the Christmas Eve worship and the joy of Christmas morning and the unwrapping and the laughter?  Or both?

It is truly a dichotomy, this season.  I can feel total peace, excitement and joy, and almost simultaneously feel complete stress. Can anyone relate?  I love the music, and the sweet manger scene in our living room, and the tradition of cutting down our tree in the mountains, and the joy on our children’s faces when they open gifts they love.  I love buying new wrapping paper and doing ornament exchanges with friends.  I enjoy the cookie exchanges and the Christmas shopping with our family and the parties.   I love the hope that the season brings of Jesus’s birth and what that represents.  I love the holiness.

Yet, it is during these 3-4 weeks preceding Christmas that I feel so much stress (my friend Erin calls it “Stress-mas”).  It’s getting the Christmas cards out on time and organizing everyone’s gift lists to send out to family and racing to the store four times in two days to get the ingredients for the baking to be done, or that extra string of lights that just burned out on the tree or the pair of nylons needed for the party that night.   The frenzy seems inevitable.

This year I am trying to take the stress and turn it into remembrance.

See, all the stress revolves around things that spark anticipation.  We anticipate getting our friends Christmas cards in the mail, finding that perfect tree, picking out just the right gift, celebrating at friend’s homes, or that delicious meal being prepared.  And of course, the ultimate anticipation of  unwrapping of gifts Christmas morning.   God has built anticipation into the season because anticipation is what it is ALL about……Anticipating the birth of our Savior.

Isn’t that right?  The nation of Israel waited for hundreds of years for their Savior to come.  He had been foretold in scriptures and by prophets.  He was their hope!  They had to believe that someday God would become man and walk among them and reconnect them to God.  And he did, but not without the anticipation of his people over time.

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, Or the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this (Isaiah 9:6-7).

We can’t forget that when Jesus finally became God incarnate, it was “FINALLY!”  Through generations and generations of patience and faith and bloodshed and hope, the people of God had waited for the promised one to appear on this earth.

And now, through so many woven threads of this season of Christmas, we recreate that anticipation.  We do and make and give so that we can make people happy, and we get to be expectant of that joy!  We look forward to so much leading up to Christmas Day, and while that can create stress, it is all for the joy of the season.  We are creating memories and establishing tradition.  We are sharing love.

If we are able, in the next few days when we are feeling a little frenzied, let us remember this idea of anticipation.   Like hunger pangs during a fast remind us to think of God, let the lists and the gifts and the countdown remind us of the reason for the season!  Let us remember Jesus and how much we look forward to celebrating His birth.

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