Christmas in Summer

We do things a bit differently Down Under – I’m dripping with the heat and humidity at present.

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Christmas in Summer (Pinterest)

Check out my Pinterest board (42 pins +)

http://pinterest.com/bankwhitt/christmas-in-summer/

Holidays – Festivals – Parties

Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, plus more (75 pins +)

http://www.pinterest.com/bankwhitt/christian-jewish-festivals/

 

Peace and Goodwill to all!

Christmas, Gifts, and Timing

We celebrate Christmas – the coming of Jesus Christ as a baby born in a Bethlehem manger. We put up the Nativity scene, bit by bit. Baby Jesus doesn’t appear until the 25th December  The poor Kings languish on the cabinet for December, until, finally, they can be put on the mantelpiece Nativity set early January. Santa doesn’t even get a look-in in our home.

Saint Nicklaus, the priest from Myrna in Turkey, is talked about 5 December – for his generosity and compassion for poorer people. One year we handmade little gifts with a little written card or letter (with a blessing) and secretly hid them in the other’s shoe, without them seeing the gift being delivered. We had to restrict the children from going in their own wardrobes between 7pm and 7am! Early December we also have fun decorating the Christmas Tree – chatting about who gave the decorations and when.

Christmas Day is a problem for me though. I cringe when the wider family is opening presents together – papers are ripped off, gift looked at, then next present grabbed. Ugh! But I have teased my kids, now young teens, that maybe this year we won’t open gifts till the 6th of January. After all, isn’t the story of the Wise Men bearing gifts where we got the idea from.  It would free Christmas Day, a holy day, from desecration by greed and the “gimmees”. We can then contemplate a Baby born who bought hope, goodwill, and ultimately salvation to our world – for everyone. Jesus is God’s Royal Gift for us.

Back in Jesus’ Day, the Magi from the East brought gifts fit for a King. This is celebrated 12 days after Christmas (Epiphany). These are the real 12 days of Christmas – not before the 25th. Epiphany is the climax of the Advent/Christmas Season and the Twelve Days of Christmas, which are usually counted from the evening of December 25th until the morning of January 6th, which is the Twelfth Day. In following this older custom of counting the days beginning at sundown, the evening of January 5th is the Twelfth Night. This is an occasion for feasting in some cultures, including the baking of a special King’s Cake (maybe a twisted iced bread/brioche ring or pastry fruit-filled galette). It is cut into pieces for those present, plus one for the poor or “the share of God”. One or two things hidden in the cake will indicate who is King (and Queen) for the day.

December and January in New Zealand is summertime. No-one is home between Christmas and New Year. We’re probably all at the Beach: from where I live, that is 30 minutes west, or 70 minutes east, or  less than 2 hours north any number of beaches. Life is already exciting and busy, doing outdoorsey things.

Delayed gratification and the anticipation is good for the soul! Maybe gift-giving on January 6th isn’t such a bad idea.

Anyway, wasn’t Jesus really born late September-October?

Christmas Wish List 2012

14  nearly 15 yo daughter

Gumboots – money for camp – burgundy or lime shoes – metal guitar strings – Avengers on DVD –  overseas travel! – long board – photography, cooking, or interior design course –

12 nearly 13 yo son

Lego sorter – drum kit – PSP – long board – Astrosaurs: The Carnivore Curse, book – go to Parachute Festival – mangoes 2 or 3 –

 

Some of those seem reasonable …

Christmas Dinner Conversations

To bring that focus back to Christ during the holidays, you can make a conversation jar to steer you in the right direction.

Purchase a Christmas jar or canister, or decorate one of your own.

On 2″x4″ strips of paper, write questions that pertain to Christmas. Fold the strips and place them in the jar.

During dinner each night in December, have a different family member pull a question from the jar. Then go around the table, taking turns giving answers.

 

Here are a few questions to get you started, but part of the fun is coming up with your own.

  • Describe the sounds that might have been heard in the stable on Christmas night.
  • Who do you think took care of the sheep when the shepherds ran off to see baby Jesus?
  • Describe a Christmas tree to a blind person.
  • What do you think the wise men wore when they visited Jesus?
  • What smells do you imagine were in the stable?
  • What do you think the animals were thinking when Jesus was born?
  • What is your favorite Christmas present ever?
  • What Christmas tradition means the most to you?
  • How much light does it take to drive out darkness?
  • What are some amazing facts about the Christmas story?
  • What is your favorite Christmas carol?
  • What is your favorite Christmas smell?
  • What is your favorite Christmas food?
  • What is your favorite Christmas memory?
  • Describe how the sky looked when the angels appeared to the shepherds.
  • Which person in the Christmas story would you like to have been?

http://www.amazon.com/Celebrating-Christ-Centered-Christmas-Ideas-Z/dp/0802416993

by Sharon Jaynes

  • Publisher: Moody Publishers (August 1, 2001)
  • ISBN-10: 0802416993            ISBN-13: 978-0802416995 

Celebrating A Christ-Centred Christmas

Celebrating A Christ-Centred Christmas

Things to think about, attitudes to adjust, conversations with children, ways to get ready, activities to do …

2.  A-
Advent, A Time To Prepare 

3.  B-
Birthday Party For Jesus

4.  C-
Customized Candy Canes

5. D-
Dinner Conversations – (see next time’s blog)

6.  E-
Evangelical Opportunities

7.  F-
Family Devotions

10.  I-
Inexpensive Gift Giving

11.  J-
Jesse Tree

12.  K-
Kitchen Jars

13.  L-
Love, 1Corinthians 13-Style

15.  N-
Nativity Scenes

16.  O-
Open Heart, Open Home

19. 
R-Ready Redefined

22. 
U-Unforgettable

23. 
V-Variety of Simple Gestures

24.
Y-Yearly Traditions

http://www.amazon.com/Celebrating-Christ-Centered-Christmas-Ideas-Z/dp/0802416993

by Sharon Jaynes

  • Publisher: Moody Publishers (August 1, 2001)
  • ISBN-10: 0802416993       ISBN-13: 978-0802416995  

Advent Calendar – jw2

With Your Children at Christmastime

December

5. Put up your Christmas tree – get everyone around to decorate it.

6. Teach the children about St. Nicklaus, the generous 4th century Turkish bishop.

7. Set up the Nativity scene – remember Baby Jesus isn’t there yet, nor the Kings.

8. Christmas is a season – not just one day.

9. Simplify. Alter traditions to suit YOU and YOUR family. Simplify.

10. Put aside (hide) or make biscuits and other treats to put in the freezer now.

11. Invite your neighbours over for a barbecue – be as lights in the world.

12. Have a gift card making session with your children, maybe invite some friends over.

13. Wrap the presents and place in a ‘safe’ place.

14. Make an Advent chain with 10 loops of paper and countdown – take off one each night and read the Bible verses or love notes (from God) you’ve written inside.

15. Together recall the enjoyable memories of Christmas past.

16. Sing carols or put on a music tape to play through the day.

17. Sit outside in the countryside on a fine dark night silently. Think of the shepherds, angels, Mary waiting.

18. Have a family only (half-) day to sit and be and do. Relax – in the park, on the beach.

19. Have an Advent candle lighting ceremony.

20. Go on a pyjama ride with the littlies to see the Christmas lights.

21. Oohh! The anticipation – Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Light, is coming.

22. Visit or volunteer at an old folks’ home, women’s refuge, Night shelter.

23. Watch a Christmas video or DVD with your children, telling the story of Jesus’ birth.

24. O Holy Night, … the weary world rejoices for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. Sing this carol or check out the various versions on YouTube.

25. Happy Birthday, Jesus – Emmanuel, God born as man. Who is coming to your party?

Shalom, God is with us!

© 2004, by Johanna Whittaker for MOPS (NZ) Inc. www.mops.org.nz

Advent Calendar – JW1

Advent Calendar – December

Top Line : Theme for each day.
Sing songs, read Bible passages, read stories, do activities. For set times with your family or as you go about your day.

1 Angel
Make angel or cut from card for tree

2 Baby Jesus  –
Talk about a baby being born (play with dolls)

3 Bethlehem –
Luke 2:1-5 What’s a city? Visit. (put up house lights)

4 Donkey –
The ‘car’ of Mary & Joseph (play ‘Donkey Ollie’ tape)

5 Tree  –
Decorate.  Psa. 100:5 – God’s love never changes (set up tree)

6 Santa Claus –
Find out about St Nicholas, 300 AD

7 God’s Gift –
God’s gift of grace is given to us because He loves us (* hide gift)

8 Love –
What is love? Love is what love does

9 Inn –
What is a Middle Eastern stable like? (set up Nativity Scene)

10 Joy –
Practice carols – sing & with instruments

11 King of Kings –
Listen to parts of Handel’s Messiah

12 Lamb –
Luke 2:1-12

13 Family
Talk about your family photos & family trees (*)

14 Silent Night
Sit outside at night quietly – look, listen. Imagine.

15 Shepherds –
What did they do? (visit farm)

16 Angels –
“Hark the Herald Angels Sing” (sing carols)

17 Faithful –
Luke 2:15-20 (Tigger & Rabbit –race -story)

18 Presents –
Make/Wrap a present for someone in need (visit and deliver)

19 Far Off Country –
Christmas around the world … (visit library – languages)

20 Star –
Showed the Wise Men the way to Jesus (*)

21 Visit –
Jesus had visitors. Who can we visit?

22 Wise Men –
Gold, frankincense, myrrh?

23 Remember –
Last Christmas, traditions, family (last Christmas video)

24 Thank you Jesus –
What are you thankful for? (write on balloons and hang up)

25 Jesus’ birthday –
Celebrate! (have a party – sing HBTY Jesus)

– ideas gathered by Johanna W,  2003