Category Archives: Christmas

Turning It Up a Notch

Can someone please tell me where November went?  I mean wasn’t it just yesterday that we had summer vacation?  This Sunday Advent begins.  I have planned Advent activities for the family for years.   And well, it was fun and meaningful.  But my kids are not “kids” anymore…..One is a full fledged driver license carrying teenager and the other is a preteen, right smack in the middle of awkwardness.

So now, Advent is gonna have to be turned up a notch…..especially in the activities area.  So, I really have to step back and rethink how we are going to celebrate Advent…..teenage style!

I don’t know…. maybe I am just being a little Bible thumping….. but is it just me  or has Christmas lost it’s worth?  Hang on…. hear me out.  Or better watch this little video….

Did you see how many 0′s were in that number???  My teens are at the age where commercialism and materialism becomes a focus.   In the past, I emphasized how to rethink Christmas giving……something homemade, recycled, or even limiting the number we shower our kids with to 3….. like Jesus received.  Yes, I threw a lot of Jesus in my advent planning but I never actually thought of the worth of Christmas.

What exactly is the worth of Christmas? Gifts? A meal?  Credit Cards? The best deal?  Or is it Worship…… worshiping Christ.  See when we go all materialistic we are robbed of our worth.  It becomes an idol, something we give power, other than God.  I don’t know about you, but sometimes I find myself only worshiping God in church.  That’s why we have Advent services in church and a Christmas eve service…… I mean that is putting Christ back in Christmas, right?

Ahem…..

So what does worship really mean to you?  That’s the real question.  I want my kids to understand that Christmas isn’t just a time of year but a lifestyle worth living.  I want them to appreciate, to have gratitude, and to see Christ around them….. to feel it and to express it.  I don’t want it to be watered down to just singing a few hymns and going to church so we can cross that off our to-do list……Christ in Christmas, CHECK!

Anyone with me? Isn’t it about time we put down the credit cards and pick up the idea that we are truly God’s servants?  I want my family’s worship, showing of  reverence, to be reserved only for Him……not long lines, wrapping paper, and decorations.

So, how do I do that?  Not put up the tree?  No gifts? Hmmmm….. guess I need to reevaluate what gifts mean to us.  Is it something or someone?  Is it a service or something to receive?  Is it filled with honor and gratitude or is it just something to give so we feel nice because it is expected?

I have probably thumped enough for today….. just think about what Christmas is worth to you and your family, and then come visit tomorrow for some ideas that might be inspiring…..

God bless……

Great Expectations

Looking forward to…..

Anticipation….

Regarding to something that is likely to happen…..

To look for with reason…….

Great Expectations.

What are your expectations regarding Christmas?

Gifts?  The latest “gotta have” thing?

Perhaps, I have gotten old.  I don’t think of Christmas in terms of things.  It is love.  It is a time of remembrance.  It is a time of reflection.  It is a time to be most thankful.  It is a time for family and friends.  It is a time to think about Christ’s second coming.

God sent Christ as a gift for eternal life with Him.  He didn’t come to meet our expectations but our needs.  Think about it.  The Messiah was expected to be a great king, a great battle winning warrior, a savior from all suffering, and a leader to all Israelites.   However, in reality, He came to us as a babe, delivered in a manager, and unnoticed by so many. Trumpets didn’t sound.  Glorious fireworks didn’t explode with His arrival.  Quietly Jesus was born.   Humbled into this world.

We needed a gift of love and God met that need.  So, should our expectations be any more for Christmas?  Share love.  Not stuff.  Share Christ.  Not things.  Praise God.  Not selfishly finding satisfaction in giving.

That is what I have to remind myself every year.  Christmas should not be of this world but of spirit.  I do tend to stray from that thinking sometimes.  It is hard not to considering that Christmas decor makes it way into the stores as soon as the last firecracker is sold in July.  And now we are facing just a few days until it is here.  Sigh……  time to train my mind when I think “I gotta get” to “I gotta love.”

God bless…….

Tick Tock

Do you hear it?  Tick Tock, Tick Tock, Tick Tock.. the sound of time ticking away!!!  Can you believe that Christmas is Saturday??  I am still scratching my head wondering what happened to February!

I have been delinquent in posting.  My mind and attention has sadly been elsewhere.  Cooking, shopping, creating and wrapping has taken over my schedule.  Between the Christmas parties and funerals, I have not had much time in the evenings.  However, I did manage to take a two hour (much needed) nap yesterday afternoon..

So I guess you are wondering when I am posting the 4th week of Advent… well, how about today??

Fourth Sunday of Advent

1.  Light the first 3 candles

2.  Talk about who Matthew was.

3.  Discuss the history of the book of Matthew.

4.  Read Matthew 1:18-25 and discuss the passage read.

5.  Light the fourth candle…. it represents Angels and joy!

6.   Sing a hymn…. may I suggest:  Joy to the World

7.  End in prayer.

Week Activities:

Monday:

ScriptureHebrews 1:14, Luke 2:8-14, Romans 6:23

Items:  Angels

Discussion: Do you know what an angel is?  A special messenger or servant.  God’s angels to where ever He sends them.  They bring special messages to people.  What happened with the Shepherds?  What was the message from God?  Why were the angels happy on Christmas night?”

Tuesday:

ScriptureJohn 8:12 and Nehemiah 8:10

Activity:  Eating dinner in candle light.  Talk about how Jesus is the light of the world.  Blow out the candles—- that would be the world without Jesus.

Wednesday:

ScriptureLuke 2:8-12

Items:  Christmas music

Discussion:  What does it mean to rejoice?  What do we feel like doing when we are so excited and happy and rejoicing?  Dancing of course!  After the dinner table is cleared…..everyone go get dressed up!  Throw in the CD and crank up the stereo!  Dance and rejoice!!!  Enjoy your Christmas Boogie!!

Friday:

ScriptureMatthew 1:18 – 2:12

Activity: Lighting the Christ Candle (The center white Candle)

Discussion:  Christmas Eve is the time when we think about how Christ has changed the world.  Just from the birth of a baby, people around the globe have changed their lives and made Him the center of their lives.  The world changed that holy night.  And when we have received Him in our lives, we are never the same again.  Then read Luke 2:14 and talk about how we can live that verse.

Activity:  Go to a Candle Light Christmas Eve service at your local church.

Saturday:  Christmas Day

Around our house we always celebrate Christmas by opening our gifts.  This year, after the gifts are opened we will have a birthday party just for Jesus!  We will have cake for breakfast!!  While enjoying our cake we will be talking about what Jesus needs from us as a gift to Him.  Is it our service?  Is it to tithe more?  Is it to volunteer?  Is it to tell someone about Him?  Is it to make donations?  Whatever, your family decides to do……make a promise and keep it!

Well, I am going to take off until next Monday!  Enjoy your Christmas!  May God bless your Christmas!

God Bless..

Advent 2010 Third Week

I can’t believe we are approaching the 3rd week of Advent.  Sadly, though, Satan has thrown our whole calendar out of whack.  We will be playing catch up with the crafts again this weekend.  OH BOY!  Hopefully, God can clear out a day or two for us!!  Ahem.. perhaps, I need to learn the word, “No.”

The third week of Advent is all about sharing!  God is the ultimate giver!  He shared Jesus with us and continues to do so even today.  God specifically asks us to ask and we shall receive.  We may not like or even feel disappointed with what we received…nonetheless we did receive what God feels is right.  Can I hear an Amen??

Third Sunday At-Home Candle Ceremony

  • Light the first candle:  We light this candle to remind us that God planned for Christ to enter this world. And with Jesus brings peace.
  • Light the second candle: We light this candle to remind us that God prepared us for Christ.  He showed us that Christ heals the sick and that one day there will be no more suffering.
  • Light the third candle:  We are lighting this candle to remind us that God shares Jesus with us.  Because He shares we must live patient, sharing lives.
  • Bible reading:  James 5:7-10
  • Discussion around James 5:7-10: having patience at Christmas time.  How should we treat each other?  What does sharing have to do with patience?
  • Prayer
  • Sing “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”

Third Monday

Bible ReadingRomans 12:13

Discussion:  What does it mean to practice hospitality?  This week you will be making goodies for your basket and you will end up sharing them.

Activity:  Making Candy Wrappers

EASY!!  EASY!! EASY!!

Here’s all you need:

100_1560 Cut the wax paper into squares big enough to wrap around your candy.

100_1562 Draw cute Christmas-like pictures along two sides of the square.

100_1565 Now put those wrappers up in a safe place.. we will use them tomorrow.

Third Tuesday

Bible Reading: Hebrews 13:16

Discussion:  Why is it we tend to think of ourselves and what WE want for Christmas?  We must remember that God loves a giving heart.  He wants us to give not just at Christmas and for other holidays but everyday!

Activity: Making and Wrapping Candy

Here’s a cool recipe that I think the kids will enjoy doing!!  Back in the days of old Molasses was the sweetener of choice.  It was inexpensive and full of iron.  Sadly after WWI refined sugar took the place of Molasses.  Refined sugar costs less and is in almost everything we consume today.  We are learning the dangers of refined sugar so why not try an old-fashioned candy made with molasses????  I use “raw” sugar granulates.

Molasses Taffy

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups unsulfured molasses
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda

Instructions

  1. Lightly oil the entire surface of a jellyroll pan with canola oil. Lightly oil a pair of scissors. Stir sugar, molasses, and water together in a medium size deep saucepan. Cook over medium heat, swirling pan occasionally, until it reaches 260 degrees. Be careful it doesn’t boil over. Remove from heat and stir in butter, vanilla and baking soda.
  2. Immediately scrape mixture onto prepared jellyroll pan and let cool for about 20 minutes. During this time, occasionally scrape the edges up and fold to the middle. You want to move it around and release any heat from underneath.
  3. When cool enough to handle, lightly oil your hands, and start pulling the taffy. Gather it together and pull. Keep pulling for about 5 minutes. Pull taffy into ropes about 1/2 inch wide and cut 1 inch lengths with the scissors. Place pieces back on pan and cool completely. Wrap individually when cooled.
http://reginadettra.com/wordpress/2010/12/09/advent-2010-third-week/

**When pulling.. make it a family affair!!

Wrapping the candy

Place your candy in the center and wrap.

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Twist the ends and TA-DA!!

100_1574

How fun is that???

Third Wednesday

Bible Reading2 Cor 9:6-7

Discussion:  What does the verse mean about a cheerful giver?  Talk about reaping what you sow..in a positive manner, of course.  What are the benefits of giving?

Activity:  Making Pecan Pralines

Yummy!  Can’t  you just taste them right now???  Did you know that a gentleman named, J.F Ingalls, had a “Home Magazine” in the 1800′s?  In his magazine, he talked about the importance of good homemaking and had patterns for splashers (to hang around your washing tub to keep the area dry and to preventing mildew), tidies (coverings for backs of chairs), aprons, and household linens.  Sounds like my kind of magazine!!  He also included recipes.  I found one for pralines that dates at 1879.  Can’t wait to try them!!

Pecan Pralines

Ingredients

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3 cups broken pecan pieces ( can use halves )
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

  1. Place sugars and water in large heavy pot. Bring to boil. When sugars dissolve, add pecans. Turn heat down and allow mixture to gently simmer uncovered stirring occasionally. Cook for 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla. Stir until it appears to granulate and stick to spoon. Drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper. Allow to cool before removing.
http://reginadettra.com/wordpress/2010/12/09/advent-2010-third-week/

** line last week’s repainted tins with wax paper and fill with cool pralines.

Third Thursday

Bible ReadingProverbs 22:9

Discussion:  Talk about being generous.  How is God generous?  Why should we give to the poor?

Activity:  Blessings

Today, take your wrapped molasses taffy and put some in each of the biscuit boxes  you made last week.  Arrange everything in your basket and gather the family around them.  Bless the gifts and the person (s) receiving them.

Third Friday

Bible ReadingMatthew 6: 3-4

Discussion:  What do the verses tell us how to behave?  Why do you think we should not be proud when giving?  How can you make sure you don’t get in the way of your giving?

Activity:  Deliver your baskets… anonymously.

Third Saturday

Bible Reading: 2 Cor 8:2-5

Discussion:  What does it mean to sacrifice for someone else?  Why are the poor rewarded in the verses?

Activity:  Go to the nearest Christmas tree farm. Pay for someone’s Christmas tree…

Hope you are gearing up for one more week’s worth of Advent activities!!  God Bless..

Sugarplums Dancing

Do you have a vision of sugarplums?  Maybe after you make your own!!

Sugarplums

Sugarplums

Ingredients

  • 1 cup toasted pecan halves
  • 1/2 cup pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup Calimyrna figs
  • 1/2 cup pitted dried plums (prunes)
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened grated coconut
  • 1/4 cup rum, orange liqueur or orange juice

Instructions

  1. You must end up with all the nuts and fruits the same small size. It will be easier to use a food processor fitted with a metal blade. The mixture should be evenly and finely ground.
  2. Place fruit and nut mixture, coconut and liquid of choice in a medium sized bowl. Mix together by hand until combined; the mixture should hold together when compressed. If it is dry, add a little more liquid.
  3. Roll mixture into 1 inch balls, compressing the mixture so it sticks. Place toppings of choice in small bowl and roll sugarplums, coating completely.
http://reginadettra.com/wordpress/2010/12/07/sugarplums-dancing/

Toppings

  • finely chopped almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios or walnuts
  • finely grated bittersweet chocolate
  • unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • unsweetened grated coconut
  • granulated sugar
  • confectioner’s sugar

sugarplums-rs-524084-l