Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Holidays

Our intention during Advent and Christmas is to focus on why our family marks these celebrations. We try not to fill our days with hectic busyness, hours at the malls or making out lengthy lists of things we want, but be intentional about what we do and how we do it. We try to create space for hope, peace, joy and love. As well as family, fun and generosity.

To read about some of our holiday family traditions, go to these links:


St. Nicholas Day

Putting up our Tree on Santa Lucia Day

I share our traditions not to say our way is right or pass judgment on anyone who celebrates differently, but to encourage you to make the holidays about what you desire them to be--not about what consumerism and commercialism try to make them. May this season be meaningful for your family--not something you dread.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Picking Out Presents

Yesterday a local youth organization held their annual gift Children's Gift Sale. School children from the neighborhood needed their parents to pick up a ticket for them last week for $1. The kids can then go and pick out up to five presents for family members and friends. Businesses and neighbors donate generously supplying a wide array of gifts for the children to pick. Volunteers take the children and help them keep the receivers in mind as they look for the right presents. While the parents are waiting, we were entertained by a jazz band singing Christmas songs. The boys loved having an opportunity to get gifts for people. They wouldn't really be able to otherwise (though they are making a few handmade presents).

If you've got an organization near you that does something similar, help them out if you can. We focus a lot on things like Toys-for-Tots, which is a great program, but this helps teach children the joy of giving as well.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Neighborhood Holiday Festival

On Friday night we ventured up to check out Holiday on 44th, a neighborhood holiday festival on the far north side of Minneapolis. 44th Avenue was blocked off for a dozen blocks or so, between the high school on that road and the elementary school.

We were going to check it out last year, but it snowed a lot on that day and we decided not to leave the house. So this year, after my wife got home from school, we headed up to check things out. We ended up parking closer to the elementary school so we went there first. A magic show just finished, so we stayed for a delightful puppet show. It was quite hilarious. Several families from the boys' school were there, so it was nice to get to talk with some friends. There was ice carving outside as well as a fire pit for roasting marshmallows.

We ambled down the street, talking with other families as we went, enjoying being able to hold hands while the boys tromped through the snow.

The puppet show took up most of our time (which was fine...we didn't get there right when it started), so the only other thing we ended up doing was stopping in a business where the kids could make a bird feeder. They enjoyed it, and they came home with a nice feeder. They plan on hanging one in our yard and giving the other one to someone at Christmas.

There were several other activities going on. Many of the shops on the street had a sale at least, some had giveaways. There were pony rides, horse-drawn wagons, flame jugglers, carolers and a lot of other fun activities (most of which we didn't get to see this time). The high school had a craft/art/bake sale that I was told was pretty good (some friends scored some wild honey for a good price).

It was just a nice evening to get out and enjoy some neighborhood fun in a larger metro area. It didn't cost anything (though there would be opportunities to support some local businesses) and was a fun memory for the kids. Look for those fun little neighborhood/small town type of holiday events. They're simple, but enjoyable times.