What if you could be more intentional about how you and your family spend the holiday season? As you prepare for Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas, I'd like to encourage you to ...
Take advantage of one of the biggest benefits of homeschooling: flexibility. You can do what works for your family. You don't have to do what our culture expects or what everyone around you does. You can be intentional and freely implement what you choose.
Instead of falling haphazardly into the craziness of late November and December, look ahead to it calmly and with joy. Now is the time to set some intentions for the holiday season.
Cuddled up by the Christmas tree for a Read-Aloud. The W family of Yucaipa, CA
I encourage you to take an hour this week to dream about what you want your family's experience during this holiday season to be like. What emotional memories do you want your kids to have of this time? What will help you feel like you've invested your time well?
Some questions to help you get started:
- Do you want to take some special time to celebrate the Advent season with your family this year?
There are some great family advent devotionals or storybooks on the market, such as those by Arnold Ytreeide and Ann Voskamp. Many provide a short family reading for every day in December, helping your family focus on Christ throughout the season. If you want an advent wreath and don't have one, now is a great time to buy or make one. And don't forget to pick up candles so you're ready when the first Sunday of Advent comes on November 29th. If you're curious, check out what other Sonlight families do for Advent on our Forums.
- Do you like your family's approach to gift giving, or do you want to change things up?
If you're ready for a change, you could:
- Check out the popular Advent Conspiracy video and website. Pray about what an Advent/Christmas season with fewer gifts and more generosity could look like for your family.
- Consider limiting to three gifts for each family member (in honor of the fact that the Magi brought three gifts to the young Jesus). Many Sonlight families give something like one book, one piece of clothing, and one item the child really wants. That frees the family to focus on sharing quality time as a family and helping others instead of frantic shopping.
- Plan for homemade gifts instead of store-bought. Save your sanity and start creating now. You can find loads of ideas on the Sonlight Forums.
- Read the popular Sonlight blog post about the philosophy of buying children tools, not toys.
- What do you want your homeschooling days to look like during the holiday season?
Do you want to keep your typical homeschool routine? Or do you want to take a break for a Christmas School unit? Many families change up their school routine somewhere in December. You really have freedom here to do what you want.
- If money is tight, embrace that reality now and find joy in the small things.
If you need to tighten the belt this year, I encourage you to accept that now and get creative. Brainstorm low-cost ways to enjoy a wonderfully meaningful Thanksgiving and Christmas. Since you homeschool, you already have the gift of time to give to your children. Make the most of this special season with them! Activities like sledding, playing in the snow, caroling at a local nursing home, decorating cookies, family game nights, eating by candlelight and reading Christmas stories together don't cost much but can really feel special. One activity we always look forward to is playing Christmas music as a family each year. I received a set of bells for Christmas once and marked up Christmas music with the color of each bell above the appropriate notes so we could all play the carols. Even the little ones participate each year. We all love it.
The point of this dreaming is to help you look forward to a calm and meaningful holiday season. Are there one or two ideas here that you'd like to try? Is there anything you usually do that you want to cut out? (For example, I hereby give you permission to serve a more simple Thanksgiving dinner if it will mean you have more energy to enjoy your family and friends that day! When we lived in California, we would go camping over Thanksgiving weekend and skip the elaborate meal all together. We made some great memories outdoors.)
And as we look forward to Christmas, what better way to celebrate the Incarnation than by the Church acting as Christ's body to serve this hurting world? How can we all be part of that this season?
I'd love to hear your plans for making this season meaningful. Please leave a comment here or head over to our newly re-opened Home for the Holidays Forum.
Blessings to you in the exciting months ahead,