Christmas with the Bluedorns Contest

For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

A Child is born laid in a manger, 3 wise men, sheep and shepherds, angels singing, star shining… familiar images against the backdrop of a man in a red suit and sparkling lights on a pine tree. When we think of Christmas, what comes to mind?  The new high-tech toy or cashmere sweater lying in a colorful box, the scent of apple cinnamon wafting through the decorated forest that was your home?  Or does your chest squeeze with every overdrawn purchase and stress tenses the air with a frenzy of flurried activity?  What Child is this?  What is this all about?  WHO is this Christmas all about?

The Christmas story will be told over and over again this holiday but to most, it will be no more than a distant fairy tale or childhood pageant.  Parents make more effort keeping Santa real in the minds of our precious children than our Creator and Savior Jesus Christ.  I pray that this Christmas you and your family were able to be reminded of WHO this Babe is and the humbling reason of WHY He came.  Truly, the Christmas story is incomplete without going back to the garden of Eden and the tragic effects of sin.  He left the glories of heaven and came to this world of misery in order to save His people.  Christ was born with the eternal purpose to suffer a scandalous death in order to pour His love and grace upon an unworthy lot.  May we never forget that behind the pretty stable and plastic figurines is a cosmic tale of a Father’s love for His Son and the unfathomable plan of redemption of an unworthy people.  May we teach our children well, may we bow down and worship this One for Who He is – Counselor, Wonderful, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, our Lord and our Savior, Emmanuel, God with us.  

It’s hard to fight against the torrential current of cultural and commercial persuasions – me me me, buy buy buy, hurry hurry hurry. This year, we found an advent calendar with a Jesse Tree and devotions by Ann Voskamp starting from the Creation leading up to Christ’s joyful and incredible birth.   I pray that God uses this as a daily reminder to our children as to the WHY of Christmas and start a family tradition of adoring contemplation and quiet gratefulness.

Now for the contest.

Laurie and Harvey Bluedorn have been a great influence in my homeschool journey in recent years, reminding me of the WHY of homeschooling as well as the HOW.  Their book, Teaching the Trivium has been foundational in our decision to educate our children classically with an emphasis on doing all things for the glory of God.  Laurie has so generously sent me three of my favorite books that I’d like to give away this Christmas as a gift to you, my dear friends.  All you have to do is comment on how you and your family have made this Christmas centered around Christ and what kinds of traditions and deliberate effort you’ve made to draw your family around the Savior.

Every comment will count as an entry for one of these books:  Teaching the Trivium, The Fallacy Detective or The Thinking Toolbox

I will draw names on Christmas Day and post the winners’ names here on this blog as well as contact you by email.  Remember to put your URL or your email address when you post your comment.  

I pray that you will all be blessed by the grace and knowledge of our Savior!  Have a wonderful and precious Christmas! 


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20 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lydia in AL
    Dec 22, 2008 @ 14:45:04

    Our family each years attends a Candle light service that just focuses on the Christmas story, with a few Christmas carols thrown in. It is so neat to hear the story, sing the songs and to see the dark church lighted by His light through candleligts.

    Many years ago, at a thrift store I picked up the book “Christ in Christmas A Family Advent Celebration” By James Dobson, Charles R. Swindoll, James Montgomery Boice and R C Sproul.
    We made a wreath, bought the candles and a huge white one for Christ. Each year after Thanksgiving we read through the book and light the candles. We sing carols and enjoy the night.
    It is a wonderful time for our family. Of course all the little ones want to blow out the candle(s).

    Merry Christmas to you an your family!

    Reply

  2. Leslie
    Dec 22, 2008 @ 15:02:26

    We’ve tried to incorporate a variety of traditions that show the love of Christ into our celebrations. I’ll share a few of them here.

    *Limited gifts. It’s hard to focus on the Christ child when there are so many gifts! This year, we are doing 1 gift per child and a gift of time (I’ll be writing more about that on my blog after Christmas).

    *Gifts – We look for ways to give gifts to Jesus – by helping others. We have sponsored orphans, made shoeboxes for Samaritans purse, made blankets for local charities and more.

    *Books – We spend time reading books that focus on the reason for the season. Some of my favorites are Jotham’s Journey, Tabitha’s Travels and Bartholomew’s Passage. These are excellent daily advent readings in the form of an exciting historical story.

    This is getting long, so I’ll stop. Thanks for sharing this contest. I have 2 of the books you’ve mentioned and we’ve enjoyed them both!

    Blessings,
    Leslie

    Reply

  3. Julie
    Dec 22, 2008 @ 15:52:32

    I have tried to get my family excited about giving something “BIG” this year; in symbolism for God’s BIG gift to us. Each member of the family has brought ideas to the table (sponsoring an entire family off our Angel Tree at church, buying animals for an entire village through Gospel for Asia, making someone’s car payment for a month, etc) We then voted upon our favorite(s) and followed through. This limited what we were able to do for ourselves this year, but has been exciting to watch as, hopefully, someone was pointed to Christ through this.

    Reply

  4. Lisa
    Dec 22, 2008 @ 16:33:53

    At the beginning of December, we always find some way that we can serve as a family. Being new to the area, this year, we sponsored a local child for Christmas. Our children helped pick out new clothes and a toy and then delivered to our church where they will be forwarded to the family. On Christmas Eve we read the Christmas story from the Bible and use our Nativity set to help our younger two visualize. Christmas morning our children each receive three gifts, as a symbol of the three wise men bearing gifts. We have a birthday cake and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. Hope your family is blessed this Christmas.

    Reply

  5. Kendra Neal
    Dec 24, 2008 @ 07:16:18

    Our family focuses on keeping a Christ Centered Christmas in a variety of ways. First we only get each child 3 gifts One a Need, One Spiritual and one a “want”. We also do an Advent Devotional from the beginning of the first Sunday in Advent through Christmas Day. We don’t do the “Santa Claus” thing, our boys know the gifts come from mom and dad. Our family really does our part to keep the CHRIST in Christmas and in our hearts.

    Thank You to Julie and to Laurie Bluedorn for this giveaway.

    Reply

  6. Derick Dickens
    Dec 24, 2008 @ 07:44:45

    Each year we have stockings as everyone else does but instead of the normal gifts in the stocking we put notes in them. Days before Christmas, each person is responsible to write a note to every other family member to write something about a character trait we see in them that encourages us. It needs to be specific. There is one stocking we put up for Jesus where we write to Jesus places where we are thankful for this blessings, provision, or grace. We try to be specific. Before we open presents on Christmas day, we read the Christmas story and then read these notes. To my wife and I, this is far more encouraging and precious to us than the presents.

    Reply

  7. RuthAnn
    Dec 24, 2008 @ 08:49:14

    We keep ourselves centered on Christ at Christmas with a few different things. We have Advent candles (no wreath because we caught the greenery on fire one year), our count down to Christmas for our little guy is a calendar that puts out different pieces of the nativity each day building up to the baby Jesus and we also do Adoreoments. We love those. They tell the Christmas story through twelve ornaments with verses and devotions on twelve differnt names of the Lord. Then on Christmas morning before we open any gifts hubby reads Luke 2 to us.

    Reply

  8. Annette
    Dec 24, 2008 @ 09:03:23

    Can you imagine Christmas without Christ? Some ways we focus on Him include:

    *having our tree ornaments be about HIM
    *pulling out our box of Christmas books that talk about HIM
    *go caroling and sing about HIM
    *attend or be part of some dramatization about HIM
    *Read Luke 2 Christmas morning and see HIM
    *Send out our letter that hopefuly proclaims HIM

    Annette

    Reply

  9. Homestead Heidi
    Dec 24, 2008 @ 09:06:21

    We enjoyed our Jesse tree so much again this year – Nightly family devotions are nothing new around here, but covering the whole scope of redemptive history in 26 days is a wonderfully quick, joyful, aha! for the younger children. Connections are made here that are sometimes lost in the longer, slower, year-long process. (And it’s been so great to see the 9-year-old point out these connections to the youngers. He’s listening! Hallelujah! 🙂 )
    We follow the traditional liturgical calendar, but I was sad that the poor little Jesse tree just sits there after Christmas. So this year we changed our devotions a bit. After ChiRho on Christmas, we jump right into the Twelve-days celebrations, complete with ornaments. We’re using the traditional song with it’s Biblical symbols (e.g. the Partridge in the Pear Tree is Jesus). So just as Advent was a quick whirlwind through the Biblical history, the Twelve Days will be a whirlwind through theology. We will end it with a Wise Men ornament on Epiphany, and a Twelfth Night party.
    We are praying that even though the world sees Christmas as the climax of the season, my children will see it as only the beginning of the celebrations.

    Reply

  10. Mandy
    Dec 24, 2008 @ 09:12:40

    What a beautiful perspective Jules! Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

  11. sidstina
    Dec 24, 2008 @ 09:24:35

    most of our Christmas activities are about Jesus:
    singing carols
    reading the nativity story (various versions)
    watching videos like The star of Bethlehem and The Nativity Story
    just talking about why we celebrate Christmas in general conversation
    Tina (sidneyg@vol.com)

    Reply

  12. Sandi in NC
    Dec 24, 2008 @ 09:24:39

    This is the first year we’ve done Advent and it has been the most amazing experience! The children are anxious for each day’s reading and then beg for one more. They remain excited about the possibility of gifts, but they realize the greatest gift of all has already been given. Jesus!

    Reply

  13. Da-Niel
    Dec 24, 2008 @ 09:31:51

    Though we don’t do exactly the same things each year, we always make an intentional effort to stay focused on Christ!

    We have done Adorenaments (from FamilyLife) in the past. Going daily through various names of Christ really draws us to reflect on all of the different ways that He provides for us. We have a small tree dedicated soley to these ornaments.

    We have also done various Advent devotions and Jesse Trees over the years. Through these times together as a family, we reflect on and rejoice in our Savior…not just coming as the baby in the manger but coming as our Savior, Lord, and King!

    We always like to read a variety of Christmas books. This year, we added a new one called “The Ballad of Matthew’s Begats”. It’s actually a song/cd along with a book. It is a catchy tune that is helping us to memorize the family lineage of Christ and helping us to remember God’s amazing hand working through the generations to bring our Promised One.

    Reply

  14. Sharon
    Dec 24, 2008 @ 09:48:25

    Beautifully said, Jules. Praying that we always keep Christ at the center.

    Reply

  15. Jeremy
    Dec 24, 2008 @ 11:00:42

    I am challenged anew this year to keep Christ the center of my families focus. The distraction of schedules, shopping and festive decorations seems to present a formidable foe to keeping Christ the focus of the holiday.

    There are a couple of regular activities that we do as a family to keep our mind and heart on Christ. One is to pray often together always thanking God for the gift He gave us through sending His Son to earth to live as the perfect man and become the perfect sacrifice for us to attone for the sins of those who repent and confess Christ as LORD. Another regular activity is to read through Catherine Voss’s Childrens’ Bible Christmas story at bedtime with the kids. I find the kids much more engaged in God’s Word than the secular Christmas stories. Our family does entertain Santa Clause and the kids are excited for his visit. I admit this is a point of internal conflict for myself between the joy of childhood and competing for focus of the holiday, but I have resolved, for now, the conflict by regularly asking both of my children what Christmas is about and for what they are thankful and excited. I thank God that neither has lost the thankfulness of God’s gift of Jesus to His creation.

    Reply

  16. Cari
    Dec 24, 2008 @ 11:01:44

    We don’t do too much, but we do remind the boys the reason we celebrate Christmas. We have a nativity set and we strive to attend Christmas Eve services. If my boys are asked, “Is Christmas about Santa and getting stuff?”, they answer, “No! It’s about how God loved us and sent His Son to us. It’s about giving not getting!” Of course, at least one of them will pipe up, “but the getting is fun too!”

    Reply

  17. Bethany
    Dec 24, 2008 @ 11:26:06

    During each day of advent, we light the advent candles on our table for dinner and read out of an advent devotional for children. This accompanies a wonderful flannel pocketed calendar out of which the children pull different “themes” for the day. For instance, one day is about prayer, so out of the pocket comes the prophetess, Anna. Another day is a rose, for the Rose of Sharon. Another is a pretzel to represent the Trinity.

    And we continue that through Christmas Day. But our tradition doesn’t stop there! We continue to light the Christ candle until Epiphany and do a devotional for that- and we give small gifts for the 12 days of Christmas until Epiphany. On January 6 (Epiphany) we try to bake a cake or muffins with the Christ-child hidden inside.

    And not too much later- February 2- we celebrate St. Simeon and St. Anna’s day… Our Christmas traditions carry on for a long time. : )

    Reply

  18. Dawn
    Dec 24, 2008 @ 12:26:29

    We have enjoyed going through the Adornaments and watching the kids hang each ornament representing a name of Christ on the tree. In years past, we have gone through a wonderful advent booklet, but this year we decided to simplify a bit.

    That said, we don’t view Christmas as a holy day or even a “special” day to worship Christ. It is surely a blessing to focus on Him at any time, but we enjoy the fun of it too – the gifts giving, food, family, friends. Sometimes I think we put too much pressure on ourselves, as believers, to avoid this or that about this holiday, or to have wonderful feelings and memories…. but the Lord doesn’t require that. We try to keep in focus that it’s the Lord’s Days that are the special ones. 🙂

    Right now I’m enjoying the smell of our Italian Soup cooking in the crockpot and listening to the live telecast of King’s College Chapel: Nine Lessons and Carols and are being blessed by it. Family are on their way and we are excited to start the fun! 🙂

    Reply

  19. Barbara
    Dec 24, 2008 @ 14:59:49

    Hey Jules! Have a blessed BLESSED holiday!!!!

    Reply

  20. Lori Greathouse
    Dec 25, 2008 @ 00:24:22

    Our Christmas family traditions are a work in progress, however, for the first time ever, we attended our church’s Christmas Eve candlelight service. It was such a special blessing to celebrate Christmas with our new church family!

    Reply

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