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   Dawn Wilson

 

Thursday
Dec112014

The 'A B Cs' of Growing a Child's Wonder at Christmas

A child's wonder at Christmas is a joy to behold. Sue Badeau explains three ways to expand that wonder in this Holiday UPGRADE.

“Growing a child’s wonder at Christmas is as simple as A, B, C,” Sue says, “and you can create many; special memories to ponder all year long.”

Do you have special holiday memories? Unique traditions? I (Dawn) have found they don't have to be complicated, just full of meaning for you and your family.

Sue continues . . .

When Hector and I first became parents, we hoped our children would ask, “I wonder what it was like to be in the field with the shepherds?” or “I wonder how I can celebrate Jesus birthday in a new way this year?” instead of “I wonder what Santa will bring me for Christmas?” So we set about planning Advent activities that wouldn’t focus on material gifts.

We wanted our children to truly experience the fullness and richness of the entire Advent season, and after a few hits and misses, we came up with a three-part strategy that we use to this day—now with grand and great-grandchildren.

A - Activities

Our activities engage all senses in discovering the true Christmas story.

We have a book of daily Advent readings, filled with scriptures and prayers that we read each night at the dinner table, followed by lighting the Advent candles. Everyone has a turn to be a reader as well as a listener.

In addition, throughout the month we find unique and creative opportunities to share, reflect upon, gain new insights into and re-experience the Christmas story through music, art, dance, crafts, baking—we made an elaborate Nativity scene out of bread dough one year—and more.

Our children connect with the miracles of the season by seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching things that enrich and deepen their ability to understand not only with their minds, but with their hearts and spirits.

B - Build

Build memories by repeating traditions. Whether it’s baking my mom’s shortbread cookies each Sunday during advent, or Hector’s mother’s tourtiers (meat pies) on Christmas eve or setting out Mexican luminarias for Las Posadas, repeating traditions from year to year deepens family bonding, creates anticipation and provides opportunities for re-telling the stories that illuminate the heart and soul of the season.

One year after our children were grown, we proposed eliminating a couple of traditions and nearly had a riot on our hands!

Traditions link the past to the present inviting memories and questions while also creating a sense of hopeful anticipation of a future where the legacy will be inherited by a new generation.

C - Celebrate

Celebrate every day. We create our own Advent calendar each year with an activity planned for each day, often tying the activity to a cultural celebration unique to one or more of our family members’ heritage.

Some of the activities are simple, such as reading a particular story, or hanging the stockings. (Stockings are hung on December 6th, St. Nicholas’ Day, and we also reflect on the lessons we can learn from the life of the original St. Nicholas about giving in secret.

Other activities are more involved, such as shopping for gifts for needy children or going caroling throughout our neighborhood.

With an activity planned for each day, the sense of wonder, excitement and anticipation about this special season grows just as surely as the lights on our advent wreath grow brighter from week to week.

By the end of each Christmas season, like Mary, I have many special moments to ponder in my heart (see Luke 2:19) and I believe that each of my children do as well.

How can you upgrade your Advent celebration by providing opportunities for your children to experience Christmas with all of their senses throughout the season?

Note: Sue shares more of the wonder of the season in her two newly-released Christmas stories, The Christmas Primer, and Umojaboth released by Helping Hands Press.

Sue Badeau is a nationally known speaker, author, and child welfare and trauma expert. Sue and her husband Hector are lifetime parents of twenty-two children—two by birth and twenty adopted. They wrote the book Are We There Yet: The Ultimate Road Trip Adopting and Raising 22 Kids. Learn more about Sue at suebadeau.com and badeaufamily.com.

Graphic image adapted - Image courtesy of digidreamgrafix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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