Christmas is over. The children are enjoying their new toys. Is it time to celebrate the New Year already? It just goes so fast, doesn't it?
Celebrating the new year can often be an afterthought with me.
I am so focused on Christmas that when New Years comes along, I'm super-tired!
However, we have picked up some traditions along the way that I can share with you. (Please add your own Christmas traditions in a comment below).
We like to have friends over to celebrate New Years. We play games, sing karaoke, or just chat. Around 11:30, we start worship. Usually Rose leads worship with her guitar. Afterward, we have communion, using sparkling cider or sparkling grape juice.
When it's exactly midnight, we ring in the New Year with shouts, hugs, and kisses. Afterward, we usually pray for the new year ahead.
Here are some foods I serve to guests and family on New Years Eve:
Haystacks ( sometimes I use White Chocolate Chips)
Our Famous Curtis Cheese Ball we serve with Triscuits
Tortilla Chips with Bean Dip
Sometimes we light firecrackers or sparklers to bring in the new year after worship.
On New Years Day, we sleep in, really late for us! For my husband Mike and I, sleeping in means 7 a.m. instead of 6 a.m., but on New Years Day, we might sleep 'til 9 or 10 o'clock.
New Years Day
Why do we love new beginnings?
Probably because we mess up so much.
We dream of being the perfect man, woman, husband, wife, parent, employer, employee, son, daughter.
And we stumble so often. We long for a new start, to get it right. If we just work hard enough, this time we'll get it.
Alas, our self-control goes only so far and at least some of our New Year's resolutions are cast aside or given up on.
Every year, I celebrate the start of a new year with hope and expectation. This year is no exception. I am bubbling over with hope, expecting a great year. Not because I have enough self-control to get it right. Nope. I'm celebrating because the source of hope in my life is Jesus! All my failures of last year, an hour ago, five minutes ago--they are all washed away. Every time I confess my sins, I am forgiven and He does a deep work in my soul. His work in me changes me from the inside out. His Spirit is so much stronger than my self-control. And I am confident. Not in my abilities, but in His ability to conform me to the image of His Son.
In the meantime, as He continues His work in me, I am rejoicing!
I rejoice because He loves me! I rejoice because when He looks at me, He sees the righteousness of Christ! I rejoice because He promises good to me, not harm, a hope and a future.
What a wonderful joy fills my heart when I realize that if I blow it, and I might, I am still loved, still righteous in His sight, and still a recipient of all His promises. He will forgive me. He will continue His work in me.
I live in a win-win situation.
So I will bring in the New Year with joy! I will celebrate another year to serve Him, to enjoy His love.
The girls in our homeschool co-op homemaking class made wreaths in December.
We kept it pretty simple by purchasing artificial pine wire wreaths to decorate. I love the wire because it's so easy to hang up.
All kinds of decorations were available to the girls in the homemaking class. We had artificial gold and red poinsettias, ribbon, red bows, gold bows, pine cones, bells, and tiny ornaments.
We used glue guns to attach the decor onto the wreath. We were careful with the glue guns, going over safety before we started. We kept them on paper plates when not in use and even kept a bowl of ice water on the table in case of burns.
The girls had a blast making Christmas wreaths. Each one was unique and beautiful.
Over the years, my children and I have made many wreaths at Christmas time. Some we have given as Christmas gifts and others still hang on our wall.
A Christmas wreath says, "Welcome!" to all visitors and adds a festive touch to any home.
Making and hanging wreaths is a special part of our Christmas. It is a tradition we enjoy!
Finish Well Radio is a podcast on the Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network.
You can tune in the first and third Monday evening at 7 p.m. to hear brand new shows here. You can listen to previous podcasts here.
Who's the host?
Meredith Curtis hosts Finish Well with lots of friends and family who pop in to share their wisdom. Meredith and her husband Mike have been homeschooling since 1991 and graduated five teens from high school at home. She and her friend Laura lead a homeschool co-op. She is the co-owner of Powerline Productions where curriculum, high school courses, units, and Bible studies are available for those who believe that learning should be fun!
What's It about?
Finish Well is geared to teens and their parents who want to finish their homeschooling adventure with excellence and make a difference right now in their world for the glory of God. Finish Well Radio is a spin-off of our Finish Well Homeschooling High School conference.
Who should tune in?
Homeschooling Moms & Dads who homeschool high school, homeschooling teens and preteens, homeschooling Moms who are considering homeschooling and/or homeschooling high school, and families who want to grow in Christ and enjoy life!
Must Listen-To Episodes
Do you like cozy mysteries?
Do you have a kindle?
Legend of the Candy Cane Murder is FREE for your Kindle from December 21-December 25, 2018.
This is our Christmas present to you! We hope you will enjoy this Christmas cozy mystery.
Homeschool mom Maggie King is reading one of her favorite Christmas books to her Sunday school class when a boy confesses to killing his mother. Though everyone else writes it off, Maggie thinks something mysterious is going on and is proved right when she stumbles across a dead body. Her investigation leads her to investigate a beautiful model, a con artist, and a prestigious family surrounded by mystery. Did I mention the FBI? All this takes place as the King and Martinelli family are getting ready for Christmas. Will this be a picture-perfect holiday? Only if they figure out who the murderer is. Can you figure out who the murderer is before they do?
You can download your FREE copy of Legend of the Candy Cane Murder. Legend of the Candy Cane Murder is #6 in the Maggie King Mystery series.
"Happy Birthday, dear Jesus, Happy Birthday to You," the children sang enthusiastically. We had played Pin-the-Tail on Mary's Donkey and taken turns trying to break the pinata with a stick.
We have had birthday parties for Jesus as long as I can remember.
When the children were little we invited a few of their friends over and then went to town decorating the house with red and green streamers. We ordered a birthday cake from Sam's and used red and green plates and napkins. We always hung a pinata from the big tree in the front yard and made sure we had a blindfold for everyone who wanted to take a turn whacking it. After playing party games with Christmasy names, we sang happy birthday to Jesus and blew out the candles together.
Now candles were a big deal. There's no way to put 2,000 or so candles on a cake, but we did fit on as many as we could. After all, Jesus IS the Light of the World.
As my children grew up, we started having a Christmas party for Jesus at church each year. We continued the tradition of the games, but exchanged the pinata for ornament making. After all, it's hard to hang a pinata inside a church.
The Christmas Story
They are kind of cheesy and we can predict the endings, so why do we love Hallmark Christmas movies so much?
While each movie is different, there are common themes that we enjoy.
Each movie takes place in a small town where the people are friendly and kind, caring for one another. Most people even have good manners. The small towns are enchanting and make you wish you could live there.
Good people have strong morals and loving hearts. Bad people can change and often do as a result of loving relationships or a wake-up call.
Family members genuinely love one another sacrificially, or will before the end of the movie.
The hero is a genuinely good guy who cares deeply for the heroine and is trustworthy. There is a romantic sparkle that is endearing. The couple want the best for one another. Most of the romances are pure with a passionate kiss as far as it gets.
Christmas is seen as magical and highly worth celebrating. The "spirit of Christmas" is viewed as intangible and valuable.
A Hallmark Christmas movie is satisfying. It gives us the change to relax and escape from the pressures of life, to be lost in the story.
So why do all these things mean so much to us?
Well, it's because without realizing it, we are created to crave these things, well actually very similar things. Let me explain.
Our Real Desires
Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women from Zondervan would make a great gift for any Christian girl on your list. These devotions for young women will help them grow in their faith and learn the truth about what Christianity teaches about womanhood.
As the mother of four daughters, I am concerned that young women know what God created them to be and how to walk in all He has for them. I don't want them to embrace the world's ways, but I don't want them to live beneath their potential.
I believe God loves women! I believe that the call on our lives to glorify God as women is just as important as God's call to men and that if we fail to embrace it, the world be suffer and ache.
This devotional book speaks to the heart of young women to commend them, inspire them, and urge them to live lives worthy of the calling they have received from Jesus.
My daughter and I each went through the devotional on our own. I started at the beginning and she started in the middle of the book. One day at a time, we made our way through the book. After a few weeks, we sat down to talk about it. We agreed it would be a wonderful gift for a new believer, as well as a teenager.
Each devotion starts with a verse followed by an inspirational application of the verse to daily life. There are a few lines at the bottom for journaling.
One of my favorite days was Day 18. The verse was Genesis 7:7: "And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons' wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood." The devotion goes on to ask whether we ever feel like we're drowning or overwhelmed with life's pressures. Yes! my heart cried out. I can feel that way. The devotion went on to call us to the shelter and safety of Jesus. Yes! my heart cried out again.
Yes, this book is written for young women ages 13 to 18, but as all of us (who are all over 18 and me by quite a lot) found out: this book works for women of any age. There are timeless truths that minister to those issues that hit us at every age and season in life.
Every magazine's December issue has a gingerbread house that looks beautiful and delicious. Little candies are transformed into roof shingles, trees, windows, doors, and sidewalks on snow of frosting. My heart always thrills at the sight of these photographs.
"How hard can it be?" I used to wonder.
After years of gingerbread housing with very young children who have no idea how inept I am at this, I can safely answer my own question: "Very hard!"
It all started back in the early 2000s when my friend Laura would go Christmas shopping at the last possible minute. It totally stressed me out to think about it, especially since I had all my shopping done by Thanksgiving. Laura loved it, stuffing cash into her pockets and socks. Her kiddos stayed with me and I decided to do something fun that my children and her children would love.
A gingerbread house!
So, I bought a simple kit from the nearest department store and we made our first gingerbread house.
That first year I learned the following:
The following gingerbread houses were not made by me. I'm too embarrassed to show you mine.
Brown-eyed Susans, sugar cookie rolls, and butter cookies with cherries in the middle were favorites I made with my mother. We rolled out dough and cut out different shapes, sprinkling them with sugar. My grandmother's specialties were snickerdoodles, haystacks, and lace cookies.
I loved those cookie baking days with Mom and Grandma. I can still remember the wonderful smells and the delightful conversation. The memories are so precious to me.
Of course, I have carried on the traditions of baking cookies with my own children.
We have our own favorites: snowballs, gingerbread men, toffee bars, pecan tassies, and molasses cookies. Of course, we still make my mom and grandmom's cookies too.
Like in days of old, we roll out the dough and cut out all kinds of shapes. And as I pull out Mom's old cookie cutters, there is always a stray tear or two.
We love to make cookies and package them to give as gifts, but our first batch of Christmas cookies is always made the day we decorate the Christmas tree.
Here are some things I've learned to make cookie baking fun and festive:
Now, where did the tradition of baking cookies at Christmas come from?
When Did the Christmas Cookie Tradition Start?
"How did you know?" I asked my Aunt Mimi as I unwrapped Malibu Barbie. We were celebrating my birthday and she had come all the way from Orlando, Florida to see me. Everyone in the room smiled. They all knew I loved Barbies.
Then came my favorite foods for dinner: fried chicken, macaroni-n-cheese, and fresh green beans. Best of all, there was an ice cream cake for dessert.
As I crawled into bed that night, I couldn't stop smiling. It had been a perfect birthday. My parents, my sister, my friends, and my family had made me feel special and loved. The day had been all about me!
I love birthdays, especially recreating for others the magical days my mother and father created for me growing up. I enjoy fixing favorite dishes, buying special gifts, and planning special moments that are exactly what the birthday boy or girl wants.
So, as we approach Christmas again this year, I want to keep in mind that Christmas is a birthday. Not just any birthday; Christmas is a King's birthday.
In the Netherlands, King's Day, celebrated on King Willem-Alexander's birthday, is a national holiday. Most stores close down and people celebrate. There are parties, parades, concerts, and all kinds of festivities. The king and his family join the people in their celebrating. Since the king is a member of the House of Orange, everyone wears orange and waves orange flags. Some people even wear orange wigs.
In the United Kingdom, the Queen's Official Birthday is celebrated the second Saturday in June. Until 1936, it was celebrated on the reigning king or queen's official birthday, but when George V died, it was decided to make the official celebration the second Saturday in June. Her majesty's birthday is celebrated with a parade, gun salutes, and a host of festivities. Queen Elizabeth walks around outside of the palace greeting well-wishes. She and her entire family also appear on the balcony at Buckingham Palace and the Royal Air Force flies overhead.
In the Netherlands and England, the people want their monarch to know they are loved, admired, appreciated, and celebrated. It's a lovely time to be had by all.
With that in mind, let's celebrate Christmas as a birthday! Here are some ways to keep the birthday person JESUS in mind as we plan celebrations that He enjoys and show him adoration and honor.