Count-Down to Christmas

We don’t really have an ‘advent’ calendar as such, since for us Christmas isn’t a religious holiday.

We do have a countdown to Christmas, and we use the same idea to count down the days towards other special events (the wedding, Thanksgiving, when an absent sister is coming home, days until a business trip is over).

We just make a paper chain, one link for each day and staple it up to the wall and every evening the youngest two children take turns taking down a link.

To make it more fun for Christmas, we sometimes write things to do down on the links. Here are a few ideas:

1. Choose a Christmas CD for the family to dance to.

2. Play Christmas bingo.

4. Bake cookies and fix a couple baskets to give to our adopted college students.

5. Bake quick breads to take to our elderly friends.

6. Make a Christmas ornament.

7. Set out some of the Christmas village.

8. Decorate a window or door for Christmas.

9. Go caroling..

10. Make a popcorn chain for the tree.

11. Make paper lanterns.

12. Memorize a Christmas poem.

13. Make a pinecone bird feeder and hang it outside for the birds.

14. Play a Christmas bingo game.

15. Help wrap presents.

16. Make Christmas candy.

17. Pick a present to give to somebody from the Angel Tree in town.

18. Make a card and put together a gift basket for our single mom friend and her two boys,

19. Make Christmas tree bread.

20. Read the Gift of the Magi aloud.

21. Watch Scrooge, the Musical version.

22. Decorate the stairs.

23. Help The Cherub make a Christmas ornament.

24. Cut up the bread for fondue.

Other suggestions?

This entry was posted in Boy, Boys, or Blynken and Nod, Celebrations/feasts/memorials/high holy days, frugalities, Mothering. Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.


  1. Laura
    Posted December 1, 2008 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    Play Christmas 20 questions

    Decorate Gingerbread Houses or cut-out cookies

    If you have a place to do it, have a hot dog roast and then make s’mores. Sing Christmas carols after it gets dark. Warm up inside or around the fire with some spiced apple cider or hot cocoa.

    Take a family photo in front of the Christmas tree (or fireplace, or wherever… but it would be fun to choose the same spot every year so you can watch the little ones grow)

  2. A Dusty Frame
    Posted December 2, 2008 at 2:09 am | Permalink

    Ok now you have me intrigued. What do you mean that Christmas isn’t a religious holiday for you?

  3. Anne-Marie
    Posted December 2, 2008 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Seconding Dusty Frame’s question. I would be very interested to hear why Christians would spend extra time and effort and money at this time of year to celebrate–what? I know some people who do Christmas simply because it’s the prevailing cultural custom, and they cheerfully enjoy the fun and ignore the history and meaning behind the customs. The Common Room folk, though, seem to me to hold the kind of principles that frown on meaningless action, so I’d love to hear what the meaning of Christmas is for you. Thanks!

  4. Headmistress, zookeeper
    Posted December 2, 2008 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    Meaningless action? Why, it’s TRADITION! (tradition!) (picture Reb Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof).

    Remember what April Fool’s Day is like around here, and that we still put a dime in the birthday person’s piece of cake, and New Year’s Dinner MUST have both black-eyed peas and sauerkraut, along with a shiny penny next to each person’s plate. We love family traditions, and that includes a lighted tree, Christmas stockings, packages, presents, ribbons, bows, candles, carols, Dickens, gingerbread, White Christmas, Christmas in Connecticut- the whole nine yards.
    We put out pumpkins and fall leaves and gourds in the fall, and we bring in spring flowers in the spring, and we bring in an evergreen and holly in the winter. We are

    However, we do not love it when human traditions are mixed up with worship, keeping in mind that Jesus said, “In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrine the precepts of men.”

    In the Bible we never find Christmas, we never find a command or an example of the first Christians celebrating the birth of Jesus- we do find them celebrating his death, burial and resurrection on a weekly basis, and we find that God was not bashful about mentioning specific dates and times for celebrations he desired in the Old TEstament, and, not desiring to go beyond what is written in our worship, we don’t feel comfortable tacking human traditions on to spiritual/religious practices.
    I wrote about this is another post a couple years ago. You can read it here if you like.

    All that said, this is who we are and what we do. We rethink things nearly every year and don’t consider ourselves to have ‘arrived,’ and so we don’t waste our time fretting over what other people might do- we have friends who don’t do anything to recognize any sort of Christmas at all, friends for whom it is only about the birth of Christ (doing the Jesus birthday cake and all that stuff), avoiding all secular traditions altogether- and we feel no need to ‘worry’ about what any of them are doing.

  5. Headmistress, zookeeper
    Posted December 2, 2008 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    Um, that truncated sentence should have said something like ‘We are lovers of tradition around here.’

  6. Emily
    Posted December 2, 2008 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    Today we’re making candy cane reindeer with pipe cleaner antlers, pompom noses, and googly eyes! We’ll hand them out when we go caroling with our friends.

    Next Friday we get to go to a local nursing home with some other homeschooling chums where my daughter will play a piano piece, recite a poem, and sing with the residents. Fun and blessings for all!

    I made a countdown calendar using an old type tray I picked up at an antique shop last spring that just happened to have 25 squares! I printed out and stuck a Tasha Tudor illustration in each square, then made little double doors out of folded brown cardstock, tying each one shut with some red, green, or white cloth scraps (so they look like gifts). I enclosed a craft or activity suggestion in each, painted numbers on them, and inserted them randomly into the squares, covering the little illustrations. I’m so pleased with the way it turned out, I think we’ll do this every year. We love traditions, too!

  7. Anne-Marie
    Posted December 3, 2008 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    First, let me apologize. Rereading, I think I sounded critical and hostile, and I didn’t mean to at all. I was just puzzled as all get out, and curious. I’m sorry for my tone.

    In particular, I should not have used the word “meaningless.” I think “unfounded” would have better expressed what I was trying to say. It seemed to me that your celebrations didn’t rest on the foundation of a reason why. But I think I understand (better) now. Thanks for the explanation and the link.

    In a way, you’re reversing the process of the early Christians, who took various aspects of pagan celebrations such as evergreens and candles, saw in them signs of the one true God, and “baptised” them for Christian use. You take those same signs and see their non-Christian meanings and adopt them for human use. Is that a fair description?

    Lastly, let me say that it is heartwarming to me as a Catholic to read such a stirring defence of tradition from a Bible Christian. 🙂

  8. Anne-Marie
    Posted December 3, 2008 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    P.S. Does anybody really think that Jesus was born on December 25th, any more than that the Pilgrims had their feast in the fourth Thursday of November?

    “Lupi has shown (Zaccaria, Dissertazioni ecc. del p. A.M. Lupi, Faenza, 1785, p. 219) that there is no month in the year to which respectable authorities have not assigned Christ’s birth.” –from the New Catholic Encyclopedia entry on Christmas

  9. Headmistress, zookeeper
    Posted December 3, 2008 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    Anne-Marie, I didn’t take offense at all, and my response was intended to be sort of funny (I did actually hum ‘Tradition!’ all the way through it).

    To explain better:
    I do think there is great value in tradition on one level. But I also think that great doctrinal splits have occurred when humans abandon the authority of the scriptures for human traditions (and then end by ‘teaching as doctrine the precepts of men’).

    I don’t really believe the believers of the fifth century or so and later saw signs of the one true God in their pagan rituals, and “baptised” them for Christian use. I think they couldn’t bear to leave them behind, and leadership incorporated them into church traditions as part of a ‘seeker sensitive’ attempt to make things more fun and comfy for pagans who were only nominal Christians. And In the Old Testament God strictly forbade that sort of synthecism in worship, incorporating pagan symbols into worship of Jehovah. But whatever their motives, I believe there needs to be scriptural authority for religious practices, and I find none for Christmas as Christ’s birthday.

    We are inconsistent, although I make myself feel better by calling it eclectic. We don’t do halloween at all, and I dislike the whole egg and easter bunny thing, but we do have a tooth fairy and all the Christmas trappings except a belief in Santa Clause (because of the Equuschick).

    Possibly the easter bunny bothers me more because the Ressurection actually DID happen that time of year, and Christians did celebrate it (solemnly, with shared communion).
    Or maybe only because Christmas was always a bigger deal to us as children than Easter.

    Doctrinally, we seek to work out primitive Christianity as lived and taught in the first century, without the encrustations of years of man-made traditions. practically, it’s a goal. We’ve not arrived.

  10. Headmistress, zookeeper
    Posted December 3, 2008 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    yes, there are people who really do think December 25 is Jesus’ birthday. More importantly to me, the scriptures do not give a date and do not authorize by command or example any such ‘holy-day.’

  11. Anne-Marie
    Posted December 5, 2008 at 12:10 am | Permalink

    We disagree on doctrine, of course, because I don’t believe that Scripture is the *only* valid authority for religious practices, and (some of) what are to you “the encrustations of years of man-made traditions” are to me God’s generous ongoing revelation of Himself. I also think there is a wide area between what is expressly commanded in Scripture and what is expressly forbidden, and that area contains some licit and some illicit religious practices.

    But I think we agree on the importance of family traditions. Enjoy yours!

  12. My Boaz's Ruth
    Posted December 5, 2008 at 3:17 am | Permalink

    Anne-Marie, I tend to believe Jesus was probably born in September. The shepherds were still out in their fields with the sheep after all!

    But I don’t particularly have problems with celebrating his birth on a day taht is very unlikely to be the actual day since we were never given the actual day to celebrate.

    And I love having 4-5 weeks to focus on why Jesus came and what his coming means. Somehow, this gets covered much better in Christmas season than around Easter.

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