Celebrating Santa Lucia day...our little Lucia and Starboy:)

Tuesday, December 15

All my tradition-loving, Swedish-obsessed dreams came true on Sunday when my kids got just as excited as I did to celebrate Santa Lucia day (Dec 13th). We've been reading this sweet book SO much to prepare the kids for Lucia day, that now the words "Pepparkakor" and "Lussekatter" are part of their vocabulary haha!! 

More importantly though, we've spent a lot of time trying to explain the deeper meaning of the holiday. That the candles on Lucia's head symbolize the light of Christ, who came into this dark world. 

Isaiah 9:2 
The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.

Traditionally the oldest daughter of the household brings treats into each person's room in the early morning when it's still dark outside, powerfully demonstrating the impact of Christ's light.  Our little Lucia didn't wake up till 8:30am that day, so we just keep off all the lights in the house (and conveniently it was a rainy day, so it was still a bit dark, haha!). 

We spent Saturday December 12th prepping for the day, baking Swedish treats and getting their costumes ready. I tried out a gluten free Pepparkakor recipe (Swedish gingerbread) and it actually turned out amazing (recipe is here in case you want to try it!). Late that night I tried my hand a a gluten free Lussekatter bun, but alas, my g-free bread making skills are NOT up to par. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't that good hahah! I think I may abandon ship on the gluten free bun, and just make a sugar cookie that resembles the bun next year...much more tasty hahah!! 

My mom made Avonlea the sweetest little Lucia dress, sewed from the same material that lined my bassinet 36 years ago. My nostalgic heart was in heaven. I had bought this crown on amazon, and then just laced her dress with a red ribbon:) I made Everett a star boy hat and wand, and then conveniently decided to dress him in his star pajamas that we already owned. 

On the morning of the 13th, I sent Kevin back to bed (he had already been up for hours haha), and got the kids dressed in their costumes. I gave Avie a small tray of Swedish goodies, and then hand in hand, we all climbed the stairs of our new home to give Kevin the buns. If you're on IG, I posted a super sweet video of Avonlea bringing the treats up! 

We then spent the rest of the day dropping off Lucia treats at the homes of friends and family. We first went to my parents house...my sister and her husband were visiting so all four of them pretended to be asleep in the living room. Avonlea came in singing her song and bearing treats. It was so cute! We tried to bring treats to many of the widows we know, and it was heartwarming to see how much they appreciated the gesture. 

As I reflected on the day, I realized that small acts of kindness are what brings Christ's light. Yes, big acts of service are amazing too...but on a day to day basis we can tangibly bring warmth and light to others by thinking of them and showing up.

This is a fun holiday to celebrate with rich meaning and exciting things to do as little ones (dress up, eat sweets, see friend and family haha!) 

How we are Celebrating Advent- Keeping Christ the Center and bringing magic to our holiday season

Tuesday, December 8

You may have heard the famous quote from Howard Hendricks who said,

"It is a sin to bore a child with the word of God."

While I have no idea if this is theologically true, I am of the idea that Christ is the most AMAZING person on earth and we as parents and caregivers have a special responsibility to present his magnificence as such!

Jim Rayburn, the founder of Young Life said, 

“Christ is the strongest, grandest, most attractive personality ever to grace the earth. But a careless messenger with the wrong method can reduce all this magnificence to the level of boredom…It is a crime to bore anyone with the gospel.”

You guys, isn't Christmas the most beautiful time of the year to capture our children's hearts with the grandeur of our God, who literally left the glory of heaven to come down to earth as a tiny babe? 

So, with that in mind, I have been thinking and praying a lot about what I wanted to lay as a foundation for our family times together in December. 

I'm a maximizer, so I scoured the internet and polled all my IG friends, looking for the best, most succinct and meaningful ideas. So, as a result, here is how I'm planning out my December this year: 

1) Starting and Ending our day with a daily rhythm that instills the true meaning of Christmas. 

The two constants I will hold each day are: 

 A. The Jesse Tree: I've heard of this, but have never done it before so this will be my first year. Essentially it's a daily devotion for kids that covers stories that lead up to the birth of Christ, tracing the heritage and lineage of Christ. There are corresponding ornaments that the kids can put on a small tree after the devotion. My friend Adrienne is a wealth of knowledge and had a few Jesse Tree books I checked out. I polled her kids, and their favorite one was this one, The Advent Jesse Tree, which I bought! I also bought a fake tree at a yard sale for $1, so we will use that to hang the ornaments on in the dining room! I will update you all with how it goes via IG.  

B) Nativity Reading: Each night after the kids have bathed and are in their jammies, we end the night with reading a child's nativity book. I found this one at Barnes & Nobles a few years ago, and we read the same one every night. Last year, Avie had memorized it, it was so cute. All four of us load on the couch together, and when the book is over we ask Avie if she wants to pray and thank God for sending his son to earth. It blesses my heart to hear her little prayers. Then, we let them open their chocolate advent calendars (which is such a great memory from my childhood!). As they get older I will probably find a more grown up nativity book to read to them, and have them start memorizing certain passages of scripture.   

2) Calendar fun Christmas Activities for each day of the month! 
I printed out a December Calendar from the internet that had nice and big boxes to write ideas for each day.  The ideas range between carefree Christmas fun as well as meaningful Christ centered activities. Please know that NONE of these are high maintenance or require much prep at all. I am a VERY thrifty person, so none of these costs much at all (most of them are free...).  


- Read The Giving Manger and explain to your kids how it works!
 I bought this kit a few years ago and think it's a great resource for preparing our kids hearts for giving instead of receiving. Essentially, the kit comes with an adorable book about a family that decides they will do kind things for one another instead of exchanging "gifts" on Christmas. With each kind thing they do, they get to put straw into Jesus' manger in order to prepare his bed. Even though my kids are little, Avonlea is already grasping the concept and this morning we brainstormed "kind things" she could do to get a piece of straw (for her 3 year old self it included things like "clean up the living room" or "share your toys with Everett" or "give kisses and hugs to family"). I will probably always put this activity on December 1st so it can be a month long thing we enjoy together! 

- Light candles in the dark and talk about what it means that Jesus is the light of the world 

- Christmas movie with popcorn (I'm going to have everyone wear their Christmas Jammies!) I collected Christmas dvds from yard sales throughout the year and kept them until now for the kids to open. 

- Present the kids with a kid friendly nativity set (I just bought this cute one here that was $17 on amazon). Every year I will wrap it up and present it to them one day so they can display it and play with it. 

- Hide the Nativity set for the kids to find. Talk about the wise man's journey and what it would have been like for the shepherds to see the angels in the sky! 

- Christmas craft day with Friends! I went to Hobby Lobby and Michaels on Black Friday weekend and picked up the cutest little toddler friendly crafts for cheap (we're talking like $1-$3 each). Things like ornaments to paint/color, a nativity set to color, foam snowman to put together, etc! 

- Make snowflakes for the windows out of tissue paper and scissors. 

- Paint Picture frames to give as gifts with their pictures- I found wooden picture frames at Hobby Lobby for super cheap, and plan to let the kids paint them. Then I want to put a picture of my kids with their grandparents in them so my kids can present them as a gift. 

- Christmas Music dance party- I plan to put on some fun Christmas music and pick up some glow sticks for the kids at the Dollar Tree. All four of us will turn off the lights and dance to Christmas music with our glow sticks and fire light!! 

- Make Christmas Cookies for the neighbors- Since we just moved, we really want to get to know our neighbors more, and are excited to bless them with holiday treats and a card. One of the biggest ways we can model being friendly and intentional to our children is going door to door to neighbors houses to introduce ourselves and offer a gift. In our old neighborhood Avonlea became very comfortable with going door to door often to say hello and bring gifts. We hope to model that in this neighborhood too:) 

- Special candy cane hot chocolate with whip cream and marshmallows 

There are also a few special days in December we plan to celebrate: 

DECEMBER 6th (or the eve of Dec 5)- St. Nicholaus Day
Growing up, whenever we asked my dad if Santa was real, he would already reply "the spirit of Santa is real", which is so very true. Santa came from the patron saint Nicholaus who cared for the needy and was known for his compassion and charity. This is a great day to talk to your kids about the real meaning behind Santa, and remember that his legacy is focused more on giving than receiving. I plan to use this day to share the true story of St. Nic and to brainstorm with my kids about how we can be a family who gives, not just in Dec, but all year round. I've also seen friends who have their kids put their shoes out the night before and wake up with a gift or two in them:) 

DECEMBER 13: Santa Lucia Day
My dad is Swedish, and I grew up hearing about the tradition of St. Lucia from all my cousins in Sweden. We celebrated it for the first time last year, and it was SOOO much fun! Essentially, the oldest daughter in the family wears a white dress and crown of candles on her head and brings the family yummy treats in the early morning hours of December 13th. It symbolizes St. Lucia from Italy who was a martyr for her faith (you can read more about the holiday and our experience celebrating it last year here). But I love the visual of light (from the candle wreath on Lucia) coming into the dark, symbolizing Christ as the light coming into the world. 
(So on my calendar December 12th will be a prep day for Lucia day, and we will make all the saffron buns, and then December 13th we will celebrate Lucia day!) 

- Find ways to serve & bless others as a family

Friends, I hope this gets you excited to move into an intentional season. This information isn't to burden you or to add another thing on your to-do list. The most intensive part of this process for me was sitting down with a calendar and coming up with ideas (but even that only took about 30 minutes one time). Most of these activities are things I kind of wing the day of to add a little fun and warmth of Christ to our home. But it sure does help having it all calendared out so I can see what I have planned for each day!  

You can do this mama!!!