Our 12 Days of Christmas

THURSDAY THOUGHTS
The past couple of days (as in, early December when I first started to write this post), I have spent some time looking into various Christmas activities, traditions, service opportunities, and tasty recipes to make our December extra merry & bright; I have always wanted to do a “12 Days of Christmas” filled with all of these exceptional things, while at the same time honing in on the true reason for the season–which we believe is to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Ideally, our 12 days of Christmas would have a Christ-focused approach while also being filled with several low-key activities intermingled with the spiritual aspect.  So, with some fine-tuning and lots of help from this book by Emily Freeman, titled, A Christ-Centered Christmas: Seven Traditions to Lead Us Closer to the Savior, I narrowed down our 12-days of Christmas into what I think is going to be our best Christmas yet with many wonderful tradition-filled seasons to come!
~Our 12 Days of Christmas~
    1. Set up the blessing or “Tender Mercy” tree
      • Set aside a mini tree that has scripture scrolls placed throughout its branches that express the constant mercies we receive from the Lord, e.g. Psalm 145:9, Ether 6:12. Read a tender mercy scripture each night leading up to Christmas.
    2. Gather donation items for charity of choice (this year we are donating to the Vietnam Veterans of America (www.scheduleapickup.org)
    3. Make an ornament as a family
      • Make something representative of that particular year. For example, we moved to Oregon in July so we are making something Oregon related 🙂
    4. Attend a Christmas concert at the Temple Visitor Center 
      • Remember the Wise Men and their journey to see the Savior. This is representative of how we can celebrate in a unique way, i.e.”journey a different way” to protect and nurture our belief in the Savior.
    5. Sing carols by candlelight (or by the fire hearth!) with hot chocolate
    6. Make candy cane cookies (Daniel’s FAVORITE)
      • Remember/discuss the testimony of the Shepherds as they “came with haste” to witness Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus lying in the manger (Luke 2:15-18). Share our own testimonies of the Savior and reflect upon the moments when we have seen His hand in our lives.
    7. Secret Service with Tinkling Bell
      • This particular day we will carry a small jingle bell in our pockets and its tinkling chimes will gently remind us to listen for promptings to perform subtle acts of service to those around us throughout the day. Hopefully this experience will inspire us to go out of our way in the future, even when we don’t have a tinkling bell to remind us! Reflect upon the quiet service that Joseph performed for Mary and others throughout his life.
    8. Winter Wonderland Light Display
      • Soooooo this is reportedly the “biggest light show west of the Mississippi!” So we’re going to have to try it out and see for ourselves. Although, I do remember attending once as a teenager and it was pretty crazy how many lights they had. Little C should get a kick out of it in all of her toddler curiosity and obsession with lights in general.
    9. White Elephant Gift Exchange Party
      1. This is one Christmas tradition that we’ve done consistently over the past few years…which really has been almost our entire marriage of 5 1/2 years. It is so.much.fun. If you don’t know what a white elephant consists of…Google it 🙂 
    10. Deliver Treats 
      • I will soon be posting some of the delectable goodies I have been concocting in my kitchen…some of them will be holiday repeats for sure! Anyhoo, this is the day we spread some cheer and drop treats off with friends and neighbors.
    11. Night of Pondering & Journal-Writing
      • This night is all about Mary and how she must have felt being chosen by God as the mother of Jesus and bringing the Savior into the world. Sing Silent Night. Read Luke 1:26-56 & Luke 2:5-7, 19. Consider what Mary must have pondered in her heart and write your thoughts down in a journal.   
    12. CHRISTMAS EVE:  Read the entire Nativity scene in Luke 2 and focus on the Christ child (Luke 2:11-12)
      • Act out the scene if desired (Daniel’s family’s tradition) 🙂  or watch a Nativity video
      • Reflect on how your life has been blessed by the gift of the birth of Christ. Spend a quiet moment pondering what your gift to Christ could be.
      • Sing Sing Sing! I love singing Christmas carols & hymns. Be sure to sing “Joy to the World” and rejoice in the gift of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

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