Here is what we're doing this year:
|Susie making Baby Jesus eat his birthday cake.|
1. First Day of Advent, I pulled out her new Fisher Price Nativity set. We keep it out in the living room, usually set up under the tree. I try to play with it with her every day, making Mary kiss baby Jesus and the angel sing "Glooo-oooo-ria" and the animals make their noises. My plan is to only get this toy out during Advent, so they will remember it as the years go on, and look forward to playing with it.
2. Books -- we started last year by giving Susie a little board book for Advent called The Special Baby that very simply tells the story of Christ's birth. I got that back out a few days ago, and then yesterday gave her a new Advent book, The Animal's Christmas Eve which is an old Golden Book we found at Half-Priced books. It's perfect for her "listening" level this year. It rhymes, and has all the animals, and she asked me to read it like 5 times this morning, so I know she likes it. I saw her flipping through it and heard all the animal sounds (at our house, the animals are NAMED their sounds, for the most part. Except "horsey" which is a very new word for her). My plan for this tradition is to build our little Advent book collection each year and get them all out to read just during this time of year together. I think it could be really fun as kids get older and they are various ages. We could do one book a day or something, once we get enough. For now, she likes reading the same things over and over so this works!
3. Christmas songs -- when I was a little girl, we would sing Christmas songs by the tree before bed, so I did that with Susie last year. This year she's not always keen for me to keep her pinned down, so we don't do it every night, but I have been singing lots of Christmas songs about Jesus. If she's in the mood, she does the motions with me to "Away in a Manger" and often mouths along the words (not the real ones, she pretends to know it) with us. Of course there are all kinds of fun Christmas songs like "No Place Like Home for the Holidays" that I enjoy hearing each year, but I really want to feed our souls by making songs about Jesus what we sing and listen to as much as possible.
4. Advent Calendar -- I've misplaced my nice big Noel Piper calendar, and plan to make one for next year. Since I don't have that, we are just sticking on the little footprint stickers to this, and making that our little calendar. Counting the days until Christmas hasn't been a thrill for her yet, but it's good for me to do!
5. Coloring -- crafts are just a bit too much for Susie right now, but that girl could color all the live-long day. I'm printing off some nativity coloring sheets for her so we can talk about the pictures while she colors. I also found a $1 activity book that comes with stickers and coloring pages to pull out close to Christmas. I'd love for those people and animals in the Christmas story to become a part of her life like Curious George, Cat in the Hat and Woody (from Toy Story) -- those are all her favorite characters.
6. Family Devotions -- Josh is reading selections from Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus aloud after dinner. We don't do it every night, but they are really good. I have been reading a few in my own devotions, as well. I appreciate how focused on Christ the readings are. Several days ago I read part of a sermon by George Whitfield during which I was very convicted about my neglect of the poor. It's certainly not too late to look into getting this book to read this Christmas season!
Of course we're doing other Christmas traditions and baking and shopping things too, but these things are good for me to do too, not just for Susie. By working hard to help her learn about the baby in the manger, I am forced to keep my focus there as well.
What are you doing to make Christ the center of your holiday? I'm be stockpiling ideas for future years!