So it’s almost November! I’ve been away from the blog-world for a while because I found out I was pregnant in early August, and I decided to pretty much only focus on eating, sleeping, and homeschooling. All other activities that didn’t involve my husband and children were put aside for a time until I didn’t feel like I was actually growing many babies inside. For the record, as far as I know there is only one. I’m back in action now though and really looking forward to this time of year.
I love November because I love focusing on giving thanks. I’m usually a celebrate-for-the-whole-month kind of girl when it comes to big holidays. Why only celebrate Thanksgiving for one day? Why not take advantage of the whole month for focusing on joy and thanksgiving? I don’t know about you, but it really helps me to have a specific time to be super intentional about growing in the area of gratitude. Plus the weather is changing, it’s time to think about Christmas plans, and special times with family and friends.
December also is another example of a month long celebration in our household. I’ve said before that Christmas will feel like it just comes and goes if we are not intentional about preparing for it – not just with decorations and presents, but really preparing our hearts to celebrate the birth of the Savior who changed our lives forever. That’s worth taking much more than one day to have a special plan for celebrating.
So how do we plan to be intentional in November and December?
Each family is going to be able to do a different amount depending on the season of life and family needs. Here are some ideas I have put together for our family.
In addition to our regular homeschooling (Ambleside Online‘s free curriculum), we will be venturing through a book I found last year called, Thanksgiving Heart: Cultivating Gratitude in Young Children All Year Round, by Stacie Nelson (at the time of this post, it is $2.99 on Amazon!). It has a 30 day plan in it that includes Scripture passages to read together and discuss each day.
I also have some Thanksgiving coloring pages for the children, and a Scripture memorization plan for myself for each week. We will also work on memorizing and singing the hymns, Come Ye Thankful People Come and How Great Thou Art together.
Lastly, we have a small collection of books: Mary’s First Thanksgiving by Kathy-jo Wargin, Squanto, Friend of Pilgrims by Clyde Robert Bulla, The First Thanksgiving by Linda Hayward, and The Story of the Pilgrims by Katharine Ross and Carolyn Croll. Plus we will see what the library has to offer.
In addition to this, each week we will be focusing on a service project we can do as a family like cooking for a family, baking for the fire department, and participating in Operation Christmas Child and Partners International’s Harvest of Hope.
For the whole month of December, we will be breaking from our school term and having a special December term. I have heard of other families doing this, and I really like the idea. So because of this I have planned five weeks for us to explore Advent and the Christmas story and worship the Lord together as a family throughout December.
Here are the main books and resources we will be using as a family: The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughren – and this year we will have special corresponding ornaments made my my nieces and nephews, The Christmas Story From The Family Reading Bible by Jeannette Taylor and Doris Rikkers, and Come Let Us Adore Him by Robert J Morgan.
In addition to these, we are thankful for a good and growing collection of storybooks: The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski and P.J. Lynch (one of our absolute favorites!) – I recommend the version with the audio CD included, The Little Crooked Christmas Tree by Michael Cutting, The Song of the Stars by Sally Lloyd-Jones, some Arch books, additional accurate Christmas books, and a couple of books about Hanukkah, too, movies like The Star of Christmas, The Nutcracker, It’s a Meaningful Life, and What’s in the Bible? Buck Denver Asks…Why Do We Call it Christmas? (such a well done, fun, and informative story).
I would also love to purchase a copy of Peter Tchaikovsky and the Nutcracker Ballet by Opal Wheeler. The second term with Ambleside Online this year, we will be focusing on Peter Tchaikovsky as the term’s composer. I love how that worked out!
For personal reading and reading with my husband: Pursuing the Christ by Jennifer Kennedy Dean (love this one!), C is for Christmas by Warren Wiersbe and David Wiersbe, and The Case for Christmas by Lee Strobel, and movies like It’s a Wonderful Life, The Nativity Story, and Elf (one of these things is not like the others…).
Oh yes! We also will be reading through two books about the twelve days of Christmas which begins December 26th: The 12 Days of Christmas: The Story Behind a Favorite Christmas Song by Helen C Haidle, and The Twelve Days of Christmas by Linda Coates and Leslie S Kelly.
Our first term with Ambleside Online this year, the artist we have been focusing on is John Singleton Copley. He has a painting called, The Nativity (1777), which we will be discussing and observing throughout the month.
We are also working on planning some service projects during the month of December, too.
And of course there will be plenty of good, worshipful Christmas music involved and baking and crafting.
If you are thinking, “This looks like a lot!” remember that this is what we are doing as part of our homeschooling. We have more time to do it. Every family will find a different amount as doable, so the point is, make a plan and enjoy these two months with your family. Some get so overwhelmed by the busyness that can take over this time of year, but if we are intentional about how we spend our time and what we focus on, we might just enjoy November and December like never before!
If you are wondering why I never mentioned anything about Santa Claus, you can read this post to understand why.
I’d love to hear what your plans for your family this season will include!