Well here we are, about to step into Advent, a joyous and blessed time.
As always, in our home we want Jesus Christ to be our center, our focus. It can be difficult in a world that is so focused on lights, tinsel, Christmas songs, movies etc.
So although we love that side of it too, first and foremost this celebration is about Jesus. To keep our hearts true I like to take some time to plan out an Advent program that we can easily incorporate into our daily living.
I created a file for this years plans and spent a bit of time browsing the net for some easy ideas to do. Inside I have an Advent reading plan - God's Word keeping us centered.
I have printed off various activity ideas for us, hopefully we will get to do something special each day. We will kick off our Advent by making our Advent wreath together tomorrow - something we do every year. The Advent candles have arrived in good time so we are good to go on that activity.
Our church has it's Christingle service on Sunday - a beautiful tradition that I love observing within our Anglican faith. We will make our own Christingles and place them on the windowsill in the conservatory for all to see as the winter darkness draws in. I found this lovely little explanation video for those who have not heard of the Christingle before - this is an easy activity that you can do within your own home if your church does not do it.
* Throughout Advent we will read new books together during our Read Aloud time. Some books in our book basket (we have not read any of these so I cannot recommend them yet - but I'll keep you posted):
- Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R Tolkien
- Twas the Night Before Christmas (we always read this on Christmas Eve) Illustrated by Angela Barrett
- The Gift of the Magi by O Henry (free for Kindle)
-Christmas Tales - Heartwarming Holiday Stories and Classic Christmas Novels (£0.77p for Kindle)
* Of course the girls have their Advent calendars up on their bedroom walls, ready for the first door to be pried open on Monday. I have also purchased a Jaquie Lawon 'Christmas Market' interactive advent calendar - just for fun :)
* We will bake gingerbread and Christmas mince pies all through December - it never lasts long in our home so I find that I am baking up a new batch every 3 days or so.
* We will make a gingerbread house - perhaps we will try and be a bit more adventurous and create a little church too - perhaps a replica of our own beautiful church. We have a great gingerbread recipe so as long as we have that sorted we can go wild with our designs :)
* We will decorate our tree around the middle of December - I like to leave it a bit, if we decorate too early I find I want to rip it all down in the week between Christmas and New Year. Traditionally it all comes down at Epiphany or twelfth night, so the later we leave the dressing of the tree the better.
* We will sing wonderful Christmas Hymns together every day
* We will go and see the panto - even though my girls are in their teens they love the panto!
* This year we are going to see the Paddington movie - my youngest LOVES this little furry bear so it's a 'must do' as far as she is concerned.
* We'll make pomanders - they give a lovely spicy Christmassy smell
* We'll write out our Christmas cards and mail them off
* We will make some old fashioned English toffee (recipe at the end of the post) as we remember that the first Christmas Card was invented by an Englishman ;)
* We will go to our churches Christmas Carol Service
* We will attend Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve
* We will put out our Christmas Nativity early on - Baby Jesus will only be added on Christmas morning and the wise men will start on the far side of the living room, only reaching the nativity scene on Epiphany.
So there we have it - a brief peek into my plans for a blessed Advent :)
As promised - the recipe for Old Fashioned English Toffee
Old Fashioned English Toffee
1 cup (250 ml) butter
1 and 1/3 cup of sugar (333 ml)
1 tablespoon (15 ml) light corn syrup (For UK readers this is Karo light corn syrup avail. Tesco)
3 tablespoons (45 ml) water
1 lb (453 grams) dark chocolate
1 lb (453 grams) ground peacan nuts
Melt the butter and sugar together. Add the corn syrup and water. Boil over a high heat to 300 deg F or 148 deg C (use a candy thermometer). Pour onto a greased cookie sheet and leave to harden and cool. Break into pieces and dip into melted chocolate and crushed peacans.