Christmas-time at our House: part 7
Only 2 sleeps until Christmas Day. My kiddos are terribly excited!
We already started talking about how we’re going to decorate – streamers, balloons, a nice party table cloth. The menu for the day is pretty standard (we do the same thing each year), and we still need to get more hot dogs and probably some hamburger buns before then.
Of course, the whole day is a big party at our house. It is the birthday of the most important person in history, afterall.
Christmas is the day we celebrate the anniversary of Jesus’ birth – Jesus’ birthday! In 2007, Jesus turns infinity +1 years old.
What does a birthday party look like at your house when a ‘regular person’ has a birthday? Streamers, ballons, cake, presents, party games and the like? The birthday person choosing their favorite meals, maybe? Well, that’s what Christmas day looks like at our house. But, who’s birthday is it anyway? We can’t exactly give Jesus a present, but we can celebrate it with him!
The morning starts with the children racing into the living room to see if Baby Jesus has indeed ‘shown up’ in the manger (see my post about our Nativity Scene). We read the Christmas story out loud together, either straight from the Bible, or by finishing up our Advent Book.
Then, we have our family’s favorite breakfast, voted as the favorite unanimously by all of us, Overnight Coffee Cake. It’s delicious and we all just love it.
After breakfast, we clean up the kitchen and dining room and start decorating. Dad usually blows up balloons while I hang the streamers. The kids help with picking the colors and where to put the balloons and stuff. Once we get the dining room decorated, we all bake a birthday cake together. Usually it’s chocolate cake since we all like chocolate so much.
While the cake is baking, we talk about whose birthday it is and we recently started using a fun new way to do that. What God Wants for Christmas is a interactive story that includes 7 gift boxes and figurines with a surprise ending in box #7. Since it’s Jesus’ birthday, the story focuses on what we can REALLY give to him for his birthday gift (our heart and our lives).
Then we get to open some presents ourselves. There are, at this point, only a handful of presents under the tree, and they are all family presents. That means that the gifts we open on Christmas Day are gifts for all of us. And since it’s a party day, they are almost always games of some sort. Fun things we can do together as a family. We open the gifts and usually play a game before the cake is done baking.
There are often packages under the tree from extended family or neighbors and friends. The children usually open those gifts on Christmas Day as well, because the people who gave them usually expect that the gifts are opened on that day. Then when we call in the evening, the children can say Thank You. Our gifts as a family are reserved for Epiphany (another post…).
After a mid-morning snack, we bundle up in warm clothes, gather up a non-perishable food item or 2 each, and head over to one of our local Community Centers. For a few hours on Christmas Day, they have free swimming and free ice skating (free if you bring items for the Food Bank). Christmas Day ice skating! We’ve done this 3 years in a row now (this will be the 4th year), and it’s definitely a tradition! They also have free hot chocolate at the rink, so we skate a bit, rest and warm up with a hot chocolate for a bit, and then skate some more.
When we get home from skating, Dad usually fires up the bar-b-que grill (yes, even in DECEMBER in CANADA). We grill hot dogs and hamburgers for a late lunch. I put icing on the cake so we can have it for dessert after our party lunch. (I doubt Jesus would eat hot dogs, though – they probably aren’t kosher. But that’s a typical party meal for us – that or pizza.)
After lunch is done, we set out our “You Are Special” plate at an empty spot at the table, just for our special guest of honor. Then we light as many candles as will fit on the cake and sing “Happy Birthday, dear Jesus!” The kids all blow out the candles together and we have cake and ice cream.
We play all of our new games, and pull out our other favorite games and we play games and put puzzles together all afternoon and evening. If we get hungry there is a hefty array of party foods and snacks – chips and dip, pretzels, Munchie Mix, brownies, a veggie tray, and cheese and crackers.
In the evening we try to phone our families and wish them all Merry Christmas. We also go out in our car to look at Christmas lights around town once it gets dark.
At bedtime, as things are winding down, the children check the Nativity Scene to see if the angel has arrived to tell the shepherds about Jesus’ birth. Then we go through our Advent Pockets (that’s another post…) one last time and look at all the heart reminders again. We talk about what the children’s favorite part of the Christmas story is and imagine what it might have been like to have actually seen the baby Jesus.
We say our bedtime prayers, which on this night always include a BIG Thank You for Jesus coming into the world. Then we sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus one more time, and the children go to bed.
We have a blast all day long celebrating and playing together. We’ve often had friends join us for parts of the day, and we all have such a good time. Our Christmas Day starts and ends with the focus on Christ’s birth. If you ask our kids, it is VERY much like how we celebrate each of their birthdays. It only makes sense!
(photo credits: Skates linked directly to photobucket user; plate picture my own; Happy Birthay Jesus linked directly to photobucket user; others public domain.)
click for the next post in the series – Fun Advent Family Devotions (Christmas-time at our House: part 8)