“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…”
Yes, I am one of *those* people (as evidenced by the Christmas tree set up in our living room already!) And yes, I know we haven’t even celebrated Thanksgiving yet. Believe me, we still celebrate, as we know we have MUCH for which to be thankful. And we DO have some Thanksgiving traditions, I promise! Both cottages watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and partake in the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving “feast.” On Thanksgiving day, the campus comes together for a big Thanksgiving feast of our own (which looks nothing like Charlie Brown’s!) And that night, the cottages enjoy a movie at the theater together.
But as we’ve started thinking about and planning for my favorite time of the year, we thought we would share some of our traditions with you and yours.
The girls get the treat of making Ms. Bethany’s mom’s secret sugar cookie recipe. This recipe makes a LOT! They are thick and fluffy and the kids help every step of the way. As someone who is a taste tester every year, I can vouch for the fact that they are delicious! The girls also make and decorate giant (9”) gingerbread man cookies, which is also a huge hit!
“Roll A Reindeer” is a game the girls love to play. It requires no effort once you have it, so it can fill in 10 minutes or a couple hours. Here’s a link to the one they like to use so you can play it too! https://www.inspirationmadesimple.com/2014/12/roll-a-reindeer-preschool-game/
Each year, the girls make at least one kind of ornament: peppermint ornaments (melt white/red peppermint hard candy in the oven inside a cookie cutter), clear ball ornaments filled with whatever they can find, etc...Also, each year they order an ornament with a photo of everyone in the cottage on it.
A new tradition the house parents started last year is a Christmas picnic. A few days before Christmas, they set out a blanket in the living room, complete with hot chocolate and snacks and then read the Christmas story together from the Bible. It’s a fun new way to enjoy hearing the story of our Savior told.
Of course, no Christmas season is complete without a trip to see local light displays - the favorite local spot being Felts Park in Galax.
Christmas Eve Eve was a big holiday at Ms. Bethany’s house so they’ve carried on the tradition in the cottage. On this night, a gift of a game is given to the cottage and everyone plays.
In the Rash household, the tradition goes that as soon as eggnog (a seasonal staple for Mr. Jason) hits the store, Christmas music can be played. Around here, that happens in October. On the day that eggnog debuts, Ms. Michelle picks up a container and everyone enjoys a glass while listening to the first sounds of Christmas music! Not long after, the cottage is decked out in lights and garlands and trees.
The boys also enjoy plenty of Christmas treats, including Ms. Michelle’s favorite sugar cookie and gingerbread men recipes. A sticky, sweet afternoon or evening is spent decorating the cookies and listening to Christmas music and, of course, sampling the treats!
One of the boys’ favorite activities is the gingerbread house competition. Pre-assembled houses are purchased, along with every decorating accessory you can imagine (Necco wafer candies, Bugels, M&M’s, cinnamon hots, gumdrops, jelly beans, vanilla wafers, graham crackers, Tootsie Rolls, licorice, Sno-Caps, and SO much more!) We divide up into teams of two and decorate our houses (and of course sample the candies!) Impartial judges (other staff) come and judge our creations and the winning team is awarded a small gift card. Another similar activity that we’ve also done and enjoyed is to make an edible manger scene.
Throughout the month, there are lots of festivities. We attend the local Christmas parades in Galax and Hillsville. We watch lots of Christmas movies and sip plenty of hot cocoa.
Each night leading up to Christmas, we pause after dinner to open up Ms. Michelle’s advent calendar. These are little stockings filled with a little chocolate for each child and an advent related Scripture to read. We spend a few minutes each night savoring the chocolate and the story of our Savior’s birth. This culminates in our favorite traditions and my personal favorite night of the year: Christmas Eve.
In Ms. Michelle’s family, Christmas Eve dinner is something called Chicken Souvlaki subs. Since we haven’t been able to find that around here, we make our own. After dinner, everyone opens one gift, which is new pajamas, unique to each person. Everyone changes into their pajamas and loads up into the van. We all go to Felt’s Park to see the light display, stopping for hot cocoa on the way. When we get home, everyone snuggles up on the couch. Mr. J reads the Christmas story from the Bible. Everyone gets a “candle” (battery powered) and we sing Silent Night and pray together. The night is topped off by watching The Star or The Nativity Story (depending on the age of our kiddos) together as a family. And then it’s off to bed, which of course is never a short affair.
Christmas morning looks different every year, depending on schedules. Some kids go on visits, we’ve had some kids have to work. We usually get up and do presents and stockings in the morning with everyone. Then everyone has the majority of the day to play. We do a campus lunch together. The menu of which is a tradition in Ms. Bethany’s family - burgers and fries. Later in the day, we all head out to see a movie together (just like on Thanksgiving night.)