I thought we would get ahead of your holiday schedule and use two words to do so: intentional planning. Before you know it, your calendars will be filled with commitments that are made by default, and your joy will evaporate. So…let’s take back our holiday calendars and our families! Ready?!

First of all, sit down with your spouse and decide your family’s priorities as you celebrate Thanksgiving. I like to think we teach our children the heartfelt emotion of gratitude all year long by thanking God each day for something. Cultivating a heart that is grateful for the little things is a life skill and a discipline that honors the Lord. As you celebrate Thanksgiving make sure you teach your children about God’s hand in bringing the Pilgrims to the land we now call America and His hand in preparing Squanto as their Helper-in-Chief. Truly, God was instrumental in the first Thanksgiving! Read about it in Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric MetaxasI love that RDS teaches our preschoolers about the history of our first Thanksgiving – no revision here!  One more thing, as your children grow and graduate from RDS, you must know what history curriculum is being taught in X, Y, Z school!  Ask. And please do not settle for watered-down social studies, nor a revised history curriculum. David Barton is a good place to start.

As we navigate Christmas and COVID-19, let’s be intentional and plan according to our family’s needs. Decide now what your comfort level is and pray for wisdom in your decision making. Talk about it with your spouse first, and then whoever else is in the equation – extended family and/or friends.

What are the activities you enjoy doing as a family to celebrate the birth of Jesus? Do you prepare with an advent calendar? Memorize Scripture from Luke 2?  Visit a live nativity scene? Cut down your own Christmas tree and decorate it with favorite ornaments while sipping on hot chocolate?  Do you participate in singing carols at the community square? Make cut-out cookies, decorate with sprinkles, and take to neighbors? Drive around the neighborhood to see decorations? Fill Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes? Read favorite Christmas stories and books Whatever has become your favorite way to celebrate the advent of Christmas, may I challenge you to make your home the heart of your celebration? May your activities be simple yet meaningful. May they be rooted in making memories that point to our Savior’s birth and to traditions that bring your family together!
As you plan the month of December, schedule family down-time. If you don’t, I guarantee you, something or someone will fill that slot for you. As your children get older, there will be more activities and commitments that will take you out of the house, so enjoy a more simplified, stay-at-home routine now as your children are preschoolers and elementary-age.

One of my favorite children’s books is One Wintry Night by Ruth Bell Graham. It is the Christmas story as told to a little boy, beginning in the Garden. The illustrations are exquisite. Another favorite of mine is decorating a child-sized little tree with the Adorenaments from Family Life.  Each ornament depicts one of the names of Jesus and Scripture to accompany it. It is a wonderful way to teach your little ones the names of Jesus. We used a very small potted evergreen tree last year with our grandchildren (4 and 2). They took turns decorating their very own adorenament tree!

FamilyLife nows sells their adorenaments under a different name,  The Twelve Names of Christmas Ornaments.

You can find Jeannie’s past Mentoring Moments on our website under the Mentoring tab.

If you would like to reach out to Jeannie, you may email her at jbrostrand@redeemerdayschool.org.