Wednesday, December 19, 2007

advent calendar inspiration Last year I made 26 "Names of Jesus ornaments" for my Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. I was going to carry over the tradition of doing something crafty on Christmas Eve this year too . . . but I have class. So, I invited my class to my house for a party. That's an ok compromise in my book. However, I know what this year's craft is going to be . . . I really want to make an Advent Calendar. So, I've been collecting ideas while I wait for a time when I can actually make it (which I am hoping is sometime during my Chinese New Year break in January and February). I REALLY like the toilet paper tree ones that I first found on Bringing School Home and then later on here and the paper box and match box ones that I first saw on the Better Homes and Gardens site. There are also some really cool family and around the world themed ones that I think are really neat. So, maybe it is a good thing that I don't have time till Chinese New Year to work on my Advent Calendar . . . gives me time to collect some more toilet paper rolls. :) Thought I'd share with you some of the inspiration I've been collecting. You can click on this mosaic and go to flickr to see the photo credits and also click through to the page with the original photo. On those pages, some of the photographers/crafters explain how they created their advent calendar in case you see one you want to emulate. Aren't these all just awesome. Some are quite simple and others are more elaborate. There are several ideas I want to copy. In typical Amanda fashion, I would like to have oh . . . about 100 advent calendars. Do you think that would be too many?
Christmas Past, 1981 (part 2, a repost) Today my guestblogger, my mom, finishes the story she started yesterday. (Just FYI, the pics are from 1979 and 1980--it's the best I could do with what I have here with me in Taiwan.) It was a warm Texas December night and a very special one for us (ok – very special to me, the sentimental one!). It was our first time decorating a tree with a child old enough to participate. We purchased a small Christmas tree from the local grocery store and carted it home on top of our Pinto station wagon. Ken crafted a tree stand out of scrap wood and we placed the tree on top of our end table, hopefully out of the reach of our toddler’s (Sarah’s) grasp. We placed the lights on the tree and Amanda and I began hanging ornaments. She was so excited we were celebrating! I was so excited – I got to keep the traditions! It came time to turn off the overhead lights and plug in the Christmas tree lights. As soon as the lights on the tree began shining, Amanda, overcome at the beauty of what she was seeing, spontaneously began to exclaim “Oh! Oh! Glory to God in the Highest! Glory to God in the Highest! Glory to God in the Highest!” She raised her arms and began dancing around that small glowing tree praising God, repeating that phrase over and over just as the angels must have done on the first Christmas night. I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed worship as genuine as the worship I saw that night! Worship from one with such a pure heart and pure motives – a precious three-year-old, who knew only that we were celebrating the birth of Jesus and that our Christmas tree was shining just as the heavens were the night of His birth when angels praised God and proclaimed His glory. And, she wanted to celebrate and praise Him in the same way! That Christmas, God gave us just what we needed through the faith and actions of a three-year-old child. That experience changed our perspective on Christmas celebrations. We both realized that a Christmas tradition held its meaning only in the heart of the person participating in the tradition – you could focus on the warm and fuzzy feelings felt by reliving the tradition or you could focus on the original intent of the tradition or you could focus on the One for Whom you were celebrating as you participated in the tradition. In our family, we choose to focus not on feelings or original intent, but on the Reason we were celebrating. Each year, as we decorate our tree, it is a family tradition to tell the story of the night we worshipped with Amanda around our first family decorated Christmas tree. We seek to have the same worshipful heart as a three-year-old who, though only looking at the lights on a small Christmas tree, saw a sky filled with a host of heavenly...

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