As the holidays are approaching, I begin to think about slowing down. I want to enjoy every single second of this amazing season. It seems so short and goes by so quickly. During this time of year I like to take some time off from our “normal” schooling schedule. I want my children to really understand the true meaning of Christmas and all Jesus did for us.

Beginning in November, we start reading books about Thanksgiving instead of our regular read aloud books. I have a large collection of good Thanksgiving books so we just choose a few from our shelf at home and read through them throughout the month. We also do several crafts and a lapbook or two that go along with what we are learning. We don’t do crafts very often because my kids don’t really care for them (and frankly, neither do I).

At the end of November, we finish up our “regular” school work of math, language arts, science, history, etc. We put away our everyday school books to focus more on Christmas and Jesus. I have many books about Christmas that don’t involve Santa and elves and such. The books I have in my collection are based on the Bible.

We do several acts of kindness throughout December. We like to serve our neighbors in some way or another. We have helped walk their dog, take out the trash, and gone grocery shopping. We also make cookies, candy, and fudge and go door-to-door to deliver them to each of our neighbors. We put a little Christmas card on each one and let them know we are thinking of them. We leave some for our mailman and garbage collector as well.

In December, we also take the time to visit family and friends we don’t normally get to see because of school. Since we take off from our regular schedule, we have time to go visit others who might not be able to get out as much. These visits have been such a blessing to my family.

Starting this year, we will be taking one or two days to go to a convalescent home to visit with older folks. These people usually have no family and love when little children come to visit. Our good friend has a dog who is trained in emotional therapy. We are going to take him with us and sing Christmas carols and make cards for each person. It may be the only gift some of them get.

Every year we do Advent activities. We have an Advent candle we light and devotions that go along with each one. This has deepened our understanding so much about Jesus and His miraculous birth. We have special prayers for each night as well.

We love to make shoeboxes filled with goodies for Operation Christmas Child each year. We usually do more boxes than the previous year. We have been involved with this since before our children were born. This year we are in charge of it at our church. My kids have LOVED it. They help make displays, collect supplies, give out boxes, collect the boxes, lift and move them. It is one of the biggest blessings we have seen in our family.

My children love to participate in the Christmas play at church. They have decided not to do that this year but it is usually a lot of fun. We do plan to attend the performance that their friends will put on. We also go to our town’s Christmas parade. This is a several hour event and one of our favorites. It really is like a small town parade.

Our town is historic as well so they have something called “The Grand Illumination”. It’s where all of the historic area lights a candle in the historic buildings at the same time on a certain night. It is magical. There are lots of festivities and performances. At the end of the night they do a huge fireworks display. It is so crowded but we love it. We invite friends and family and walk around for hours drinking hot cocoa and taking in the sights and sounds.

Taking off from regular school work doesn’t mean we don’t learn anything. We read LOTS of books and do lots of baking (that takes lots of math skills). We work on serving others and being part of something bigger than ourselves. We get to spend time with each other and not worrying about the hustle and bustle of everyday life. We build our relationships and get to know new people. Slowing down doesn’t mean doing nothing. It means gaining everything. It also gives us a nice recharge for when the New Year arrives!