I'm passionate about seeking out light and goodness in the world wherever I can find it, and when I find it, I love to share it with others.
Christmas Decorations in October!?
Many people are bothered by the fact that stores pull out their Christmas displays so early in the year.
I recently saw someone make a complaint on social media that she doesn't want to be greeted by Christmas trees and the scent of cinnamon pine cones at her favorite grocery store when she hasn't even had a chance to purchase pumpkins or Halloween candy for her children yet.
Personally, I love the smell of cinnamon pine cones any time of the year, and I think decorated evergreen trees are beautiful reminders of my Savior's undying love and eternal sacrifice for me all year round, but I can definitely see where the commercialism of Christmas has gotten out of hand in some ways.
For example, I don't like the idea of stores being open for early black Friday shopping on Thanksgiving.
That's mostly because after working a Christmas season at Toys R Us, it was obvious to me that many people lose sight of the true Christmas spirit during their frantic shopping escapades, and it's a shame to let that frantic feeling that so many shoppers experience take over a beautiful holiday like Thanksgiving.
Anyway, I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with beginning Christmas celebrations earlier in the year as long as we remember that Christ should be the focus of the celebration, and that's what my favorite Christmas countdown tradition is all about.
A Simple, Inexpensive Christmas Countdown Tradition You and Your Children Can Enjoy Together
Do you remember back in the good old days as a kid when you would make paper chains to count down to important events?
It seems like sometimes we made paper chains in elementary school counting down to vacations or class parties, and we would pull off a link each day as a physical reminder of the celebrated day getting nearer.
I remember it was always so exciting to take a link off of the chain. It was a special honor for whoever got the opportunity to pull off the link. Kids love concrete physical reminders that a fun occasion is getting closer.
A few years ago, my husband and I decided that we would make a paper chain to help us count down to Christmas (Apparently, I never quite got over that childhood excitement of having a physical countdown to the big day). We cut red, green, and white construction paper into strips in preparation for our little project. (More details on this project to come)
We usually make our paper chain in the beginning of December, but really you could start your countdown with your family as early as you want if you are one of those people who enjoys celebrating Christmas starting in October.
In all honesty, this fun countdown would be an awesome way to keep the spirit of Christmas in your life all year if you have kids who want to do a 100-day countdown or even longer.
Making Christ a Part of the Countdown
After my husband and I have made enough paper strips to make a chain that will last us until Christmas, we split the strips of paper in half between us so that we each have the same amount. This is where the real fun begins.
The next part of this activity is where you really start bringing Christ into the countdown. On each strip of paper, we write the reference to a favorite scripture having to do with Christ.
It's a lot of fun to search the scriptures looking for these verses. It's a very spiritual experience for both of us.
We don't tell each other which scriptures we've picked, so sometimes we have repeats, and that's OK. We normally write the reference to the Christmas story on one strip of paper, and reserve it to be the last link on the chain.
As you probably already guessed, the next step is to put our chain together so that we have a chain of red, green, and white scripture references.
Once we have the chain put together, we usually put it under our Christmas tree, although you're welcome to put it wherever you want in your house.
Tips to Involve Small Children in the Scripture Choosing Process
If you have small children, they will obviously need some assistance with this part of the project. Here are some suggestions for making this easy enough that your children can feel like they are still involved.
- Help your children search the scriptures for references that they like.
- Make a list of some of your favorite scriptures and help your children read those to find favorites so that they aren't overwhelmed by all the choices in the scriptures.
- Just let them copy down the references to some of your favorites, so they feel like they are participating (This can speed up the process if you are short on time).
- Make a chain using pictures of Christ and review scripture stories by talking about what is going on in the pictures.
Family Time Spent Focusing on Christ Each Evening
Each night, we gather around our Christmas tree sitting in our dim living room lit only by the sparkling Christmas lights, pull off a link from our chain, and look up the scripture reference found on that link.
We read the scripture together, and it provides us with a great opportunity to share a spiritual moment thinking about Christ and talking about the significance of the scripture we read.
It's also fun to get insights about family members and why they like certain scriptures that maybe never stood out to us. We are able to teach each other and share our unique insights and it brings us closer together.
This tradition has created many beautiful opportunities for us to strengthen our relationship with our Savior and strengthen our bonds as a couple at the same time.
If you have kids, you can have them act out the nativity when you read that scripture as a fun touch to keep them entertained and feeling really involved.
I'm grateful that we decided to start doing this tradition each year, and I hope that it can become a rewarding part of your family's Christmas experience.
Denise McGill from Fresno CA on October 30, 2015:
Great ideas and personal memories. I remember doing this with my children but had forgotten how much fun it was. Thanks for the reminder.