Outdoor Family Fun To Wrap Up The Christmas Season

World Snowboarding Day

Outdoor Family Fun To Wrap Up The Christmas Season

During the winter it’s easy to hole up inside like a pack of bears hibernating. However, humans are not bears and there’s a lot of fun to be had outside. This Christmas season, take your family outdoors, get some sunshine and have some good old-fashioned family fun. Here are five ways to have outdoor family fun this Christmas.

#1 Snowbowl

Have a phenomenal game of touch or tackle football in the snow. If you have enough friends together to have eleven people on each team, great. If not, divide the group you have evenly. Dig out the end zones and use cones to mark the corners. It might help to have scarves or hats that are the same color so you can tell who’s on your team, but it’s not a requirement. Hit the snowy gridiron and have some fun!

#2 Sledding

Sledding is fun for all ages and you don’t even need a fancy sled. Plastic disc and toboggan style sleds are available inexpensively but you can also use the lid of a garbage can or a cardboard box in a pinch.Find the biggest, fastest hill you can get to and enjoy a day of rip-roaring fun!

#3 Build a family snowman

This is a great outdoor activity for kids of all ages. Everybody loves to make snowmen. Adults and older children can help pushing the snowball around when it gets too large for the little ones to manage. Young children can be tasked with finding items to adorn the snowman with.

#4 Snow forts and snow angels

Who doesn’t like to make a snow angel or build a fort? If you live in a snowy area it’s almost a required outdoor activity. Depending on how much snow has fallen, you can dig down to create a trench and use the snow you’ve excavated to help build your fortress walls. You can pack the snow by hand or use plastic storage boxes to create snow bricks of different sizes. Sandwich boxes, quart boxes and diaper wipe boxes are great options for making snow bricks or you can go to the toy store and buy snow brick makers.

#5 Snowy obstacle course

Build ramps, hurdles and other obstacles in the snow and challenge each other to run the course. The fastest time wins. The great thing about doing it in the snow is that if you fall, you’ve got a lovely cold cushion to crash onto.

#6 Snowboarding, skiing and tubing

If you have the time and a resort nearby, you can have a great day of family fun out on the slopes. Skiing and snowboarding are great exercise and a lot of wintry fun. A more family-oriented activity on the slopes is to go snow tubing. The tubes are available in single and group-sized. Sledding down the slopes in your snow tube is a great day with friends and family.

#7 Ice Skating

If you have a local pond that has frozen over, ice skating is an age-old way to have fun. People have been skating for winter entertainment for centuries. It’s quite relaxing to glide around dancing on the ice with your loved ones.

Other fun things to do

You can also simply enjoy a hike, walk around the neighborhood and enjoy the Christmas lights or sing carols to your neighbors.

There are a number of outdoor activities to enjoy during the Christmas season. Find one that’s right for your family. Create new family traditions, enjoy spending time together and make it a Christmas to remember.

A Letter To Santa

A Letter To Santa

There is an outfit on FaceBook called TXT Stories and they’ve made a number of interesting stories for the holidays that I’d like to share with you. Today, being Christmas Eve, I’d like to share this one. It’s an exchange between a desperate mother and a Santa her son saw at their local shopping mall.

TXTMAS 2018 #8 – A TEXT TO SANTA | by txtstories

TXTMAS EP. 8 – texting a letter to santa… ✨🎅🎁
#txtmas

Posted by TXT Stories on Wednesday, December 20, 2017

How’s that for a surprise ending? I’ve got some more to share in the coming days. Some are helpful and some are just silly.

I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a clever way of telling a story. Technology is definitely having a wonderful effect on our culture. The ability to tell a story in the form of a simulated text exchange is something quite new and innovative. It’s an interesting spin on the slice of life skits you see in high school and youth group amateur theatrics taken to a new level with computer animation. The folks at TXT Stories are quite creative as you’ll see in the coming days. Stay tuned!

I’m going on the Naughty List

I’m going on the Naughty List

…and I’m PROUD of it! Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!

Okay, let’s review the history of Christmas. Certainly, there’s the Nativity Scene aspect of it, but there’s also the secular or pagan aspects of the holiday. Going back to the days of Saturnalia and to the medieval celebrations with the Lord of Misrule, the Yuletide has come with its own tricky traditions like Christmas Crackers and kissing under the mistletoe.

Well, my own naughty Christmas tradition is pranking my kids. This year, my son will be receiving a well-wrapped present. Now, when I say well-wrapped I mean an entire roll of red Duck Tape and the better part of a roll of clear packing tape. If he wants his watch, he’s going to have to work for it.  😆 If you’re not feeling as puckish, you can click here for some more responsible uses of Duck Tape in your holiday wrapping and decoration.

Christmas is many things to many people.

Some folks look at it as a time to be sad. Loved ones we miss or even those who we lost during the holidays can bring a melancholy over the whole holiday season. Those who are alone in this world can view the holidays with a jaundiced eye. Some people whose political views see the holidays as a celebration of the worst excesses of capitalism can become quite miserable during the last month or two of each year.

On the other hand, there are some people who are so into it. The holidays are replete with opportunities for happiness, fun, love and togetherness. Family get-togethers, office parties, gift exchanges with friends or just hanging out with the people you enjoy sharing time with watching Christmas movies are all very excellent ways to share the magic of the holidays. Baking cookies for your family, friends, the neighborhood or even for sharing with people you don’t even know is a great way to share the Christmas Spirit. Some people like to decorate their houses for their own enjoyment while others like to decorate their homes and yards with lights that could very well be seen from space.

However you choose to celebrate the holidays or to leave them pass you by, we wish you the peace and joy that the best Christmas carols speak of.

As a parting thought, here’s something that may or may not be pleasing. I’m still not sure how I feel about it. Either way, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and yours from me and mine!

You’ve got Elf Mail!

You've got Elf Mail!

You’ve got Elf Mail!

Everybody loves an Advent Calendar. Opening the little doors each of the 24 days leading up to Christmas to see a fancy picture or perhaps even a bit of chocolate. Great holiday fun.

Elf Mailbox

Well, I was at the Family Dollar and I saw this adorable elf mailbox. At that moment, I got the idea for a new twist on the Advent Calendar. What if I made little letters for the kids for each of the 24 days of December leading up to Christmas Day? All great ideas need a little try and a little umph in order to achieve triumph!

Gift CardsSo, I went to the Walmart and found these gift tags that look like little Christmas cards. Bingo! The perfect thing to go in to the Elf Mailbox. I have four kids and 24 days ’til Christmas, so I needed to get 96 gift tags! These came in packs of 16, so I got 6 packs and I’m good to go. I got a variety of them so each day would be a colorful holiday celebration

Next, we needed something to put in the cards. I did a bit of research and it turns out that the weeks of Advent are thematically tied to the following ideas:
Day 1Bible Verses

  • Hope
  • Love
  • Joy
  • Peace

Advent MessagesSo I found a collection of bible verses, motivational quotes and cheerful sayings to go with each of the themes of Advent. I’ve added an Advent Messages Planner Sheet for you to make your own Elf Mail Advent Calendar.

I think my kids are really going to enjoy this special, customized Advent Calendar. It’s a great opportunity to give them a special, personalized holiday experience and something special to look forward to on a daily basis leading up to Christmas Day.


Until you can get to the store and get your supplies, here’s a free Advent Calendar app for this year that you might enjoy.

Xmas Heroes – Parents

Xmas Heroes – Parents

What would Christmas be without parents? As much as Christmas has become a child-focused affair, it really depends on the parents to bring the magic to the holiday. Having been on both sides of the spectrum, I can say this is completely true.

My parents did such a wonderful job of making Christmastime special for my sister and me. My mother spent weeks ahead of the big day baking cookies. It was a great time for togetherness. She put on the Bing Crosby album and stacked up the Chipmunks behind it and we began making and baking the cookies that would go into Tupperware containers until family and friends came by. My father got out the electric racetrack and we raced our little cars for hours on end. We all sat together and watched Christmas specials and holiday movies on TV. We all got together and played board games and cards. Weather permitting, we went out and had snowball fights and built forts. It was such a wonderful experience and gave me a lifelong love for the holiday season.

On the flip side, as a parent I get no greater joy than burying my wife and kids in presents and watching holiday movies together. Creating a place where my kids can enjoy the magic of the holidays is an annual challenge and goal for me. If you’re anything like me, the thrill of finding a 24×7 Christmas music station is a harbinger of marvelous things to come. I’m no Clark Griswold, but I do like things to be a bit over the top for the holidays. I like having decorations in every corner of the house. I like having all the tastes and smells of the season available throughout the month of December and even the weeks before and after.

Honestly, I miss the days of counting down the days until Christmas and having a mountain of presents mysteriously appear beneath the tree. That was a real treat. It made the holidays genuinely magical for me. That being said, I never cease to be amazed at just how the magic continues to apply. As the parents, it is our job to make those presents mysteriously appear for Christmas morning. The amazing thing is that we actually put it together. Having slowly gathered and wrapped the presents for our munchkins, we tuck them away to await the big reveal. Stepping back from our late night Santa stand-in, we’re nearly just as thrilled and amazed as if we were the ones receiving the presents. It is a truly enchanting sight. The twinkling lights of the tree cast a special glow over the stack of presents we’ve assembled for the kids. It’s enough to give me a chill of delight just looking at it.

I’m so pleased to have shared this week of Christmas Heroes with you. Thank you for following our series. For the Twelve Days of Christmas this year, I have assembled a variety of obscure yuletide entertainments. I hope you will enjoy them as much as you have our Christmas Heroes and Historical Grinches.

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

An Important Question

Merry Monday

An Important Question

In 1991, Mark Lowry wrote the lyrics to a popular Christmas song and the music was written by his friend, Buddy Greene. It has been recorded by a number of famous stars over the years. The question posed repeatedly throughout the song is “Mary, did you know?”. Let’s take a quick look at the lyrics:

Mary, Did You Know

Mary did you know that your baby boy will some day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you.

Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when your kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God.

Oh Mary did you know

The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb

Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you’re holding is the great I am

To put it simply, the answer is YES!!!!!

How did she know? Let’s find out.


The answer is given in the Gospel of Luke:

Luke 1:26-38 King James Version (KJV)

26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,

27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.

31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.

32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:

33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.

37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.

38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

The Annunciation - Leonardo Da Vinci - Uffiizi Gallery

The Annunciation – Leonardo Da Vinci – Uffiizi Gallery

Basically, when an archangel comes to you and tells you that you will bear a son born of the Holy Spirit and destined to sit on the throne of David, you can consider yourself properly briefed on the details. It is also likely that Mary would have been familiar with the prophecies of the coming of the Messiah. The high points are summarized by the genius of Handel’s Messiah in the oratorio HWV 56.

So, when writing a religious Christmas song don’t forget to check scripture to see if the answer is already there.

Epiphany and Shortbread Day

Epiphany and Shortbread Day

Like the wise men of old, we have finally arrived at our destination. Here we are at the official end of the holiday season. I hope you enjoyed the ride!

Epiphany

Epiphany It’s generally held that the magi didn’t arrive until Jesus was about two, but that would make for a really long holiday season (fine by me). We’d also have to wait another thirty years or so for Easter to come around, so it’s nice to be able to condense it down to meaningful liturgical seasons.

Another thing that I’m pretty adamant about (given that I created a site on the topic) is keeping the season in the season. I’ve seen a number of things over the years that try to drag the symbolism of Easter into the season of Christmas.

STOP IT!

There’s a reason why the seasons are separate. If you want foreshadowing, you only need to look at the lyrics of We Three Kings.

I guess I’m one of those guys who likes to keep his carrots from touching his mashed potatoes on the plate, but fair’s fair. Let Christmas be Christmas and let Easter be Easter.

National Shortbread Day

Is there anything more tasty than a rich Scottish shortbread? You can get so many variations of this classic treat online and from the stores, but you can go old school and make it yourself:

  1. 1 part white sugar
  2. 2 parts butter
  3. 3 parts flour

That’s the simple formula for a tremendous holiday treat that you can enjoy anytime.

Shortbread Day

Seven Joys of Christmas and Cotton Candy, Too

Seven Joys of Christmas and Cotton Candy, Too

We’re exploring the Seven Joys of Christmas today based on the themes represented in the choral piece of the same name.

The Joy of Love

snowwalk  There is so much love associated with the Christmas season. Parents’ love for their children. Husbands and wives love for each other. The love of humankind for each other through acts of altruism. The love of God for all of us.

The Joy of Bells

Hark how the bells, sweet silver bells / All seem to say: throw cares away
Christmas is here bringing good cheer / To young and old, meek and the boldWho doesn’t love the tolling of church bells in the evening? Marking the time. Playing hymns. Waking the neighbors. Bells are a potent symbol of the season. They announce the good news of Christmas with a joyous noise.
bell07

The Joy of Mary

adoration2  Mary, mother of Jesus, is revered the world over as a the embodiment of purity and spiritual sanctity as she has been for centuries. She’s got seven joys of her own that tell the story of how she fits into the Christmas story. Here’s the carol that counts them out for you.

The Joy of Children

So many of the Christmas traditions we enjoy are geared for children. Candy, presents, Santa Claus, TV specials… The list goes on and on. And why not? What is more delightful than bringing a smile to the face of a child? They are so full of wonder and excitement. To them, everything is new. That is part of the magic of Christmas. The joy and wonder of children at all of the sights, sounds and tastes of the season. christmascrackers

The Joy of the New Year

ID-100101086  Smack dab in the middle of the Twelve Days of Christmas, the new year begins. It’s a time of fresh beginnings and a chance to start new habits. The anticipation of Christmas throughout Advent is a great opportunity to think about what changes you want to make in the coming year. Is there something you can do better than you ever have before? Is it time to try something new? You have a couple of weeks to really ponder and plan out how you’re going to make next year your best year ever.

The Joy of Dance

Another joy of the Christmas season is that of dance. A splendid way to enjoy the season in dance is to see a performance of The Nutcracker Suite. If you can’t find a local performance, I’ve found a classic performance from the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow.

The Joy of Song

carolersBW Without a doubt, Christmas isn’t Christmas without the carols. There are centuries of music associated with the Christmas season that we still enjoy today. Modern renditions of carols from decades past, classical music from the great masters, timeless TV and movie tunes, church hymns and seasonal jingles are all part of the musical fabric of the Christmas season. From the joyous secular fun of Jingle Bells to the ecumenical expression of Handel’s Messiah, music is an integral part of the holiday. So, sing loud and proud throughout the month. Christmas is coming. Celebrate it with song!

National Cotton Candy Day

Cotton Candy or Candy Floss dates back as far as 1400, but the classic cotton candy machine that you see at carnivals was invented by William Morrison and John C. Wharton in 1897. The great thing about cotton candy is that, like popcorn, it is mostly air. The machine is a bowl with tiny holes where hot air melts the sugar and spins it into long airy threads. These threads are then wound around a paper cone to create an iconic and surprisingly low calorie treat. There are 110 calories in an ounce of cotton candy, but the great thing is that an ounce of cotton candy is half of a jumbo bag. That’s a lot of candy, but remember that the reason it melts in your mouth is because it’s mostly just air. That’s what I like to call magically delicious.

Random Acts of Christmas

Merry Monday

Random Acts of Christmas

It’s so easy to get caught up in the commercial side of Christmas that we forget that it’s all about giving and togetherness. It is best to instill good morals in children while they are still young and to teach them the practice of giving back to others. It’s a great way to keep Christmas in your heart any time of the year.

Explain to your children that there are so many people out there who don’t have a warm house to sleep in or presents under the tree.  Some don’t have family members with whom to share their holiday or even health to carry them to next Christmas.

You aren’t trying to depress your children with this message, but you need to remind them that there are always those worse off than us.  After you have discussed this as a family, tell them that you can and will help those in your community who aren’t as lucky as you are.

Teaching children the meaning of Christmas

 

Encourage them to list ways they can bring cheer to those that sorely need it. This list can involve anything from donating old toys to thrift stores, volunteering at your local soup kitchen or holding a canned goods drive for a food pantry.

When every family member has written their list, decide on those that you can do as a family every day. It can seem daunting because it seems so time consuming, but it doesn’t have to be.  I think we could all agree that helping others, as well as teaching our children to do the same, is far more valuable than the time it takes to do so.

Bring baked or canned goods to your local homeless shelter. Take your children caroling at your local nursing home or to elderly shut ins at their homes. Help a single parent in your neighborhood by cleaning their home, hanging lights or babysitting the children. Just get out in your community as a family and make it better in some way, whether big or small.

We only have our children for a short time. They will soon have children and homes of their own.  This way, you can pass on a tradition that reaches beyond the four walls of your home and embraces your community in a warm, holiday hug! I guarantee you will not regret it!

Caroling

Flowers For Mom

Flowers For Mom

 Flowers For Mom

What is a holiday household without Mom?  She shops, she wraps, she hides. She makes sure everybody has their fair share. She makes it all better when something goes wrong. Mom is the engine of any family and when her special day comes around, it’s only fair to show our appreciation. Flowers For Mom

Let The Woman Sit Down!

What kind of heartless Philistine are you?  Take over the chores without complaint.  Get her breakfast in bed.  Let her watch her favorite shows.  Calm down and take a big family breather. Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate the most important gift you’ve ever gotten. Life!  She gave you life.  If she’s your wife, she gave you your kids.  Isn’t that enough of a chore to thank her for?  Some people…

Oh Yeah, Don’t Forget The Flowers

One of the great things about Mother’s Day being in May is that there are any number of pretty flowers blooming. My darling wife isn’t quite as fond of cut flowers as she is of living ones.  She’d rather have a potted plant that she can sit on the counter for a few days and enjoy the aroma and then take that thing outside and give it a place to live.  However, she won’t say no to a lovely bouquet in a pretty vase. I’m pretty sure your Mom is about the same.  If you want to get some really spectacular flower arrangements, there are florists locally and online who know just how to wow. Flowers For Mom

 The Best Gift For Mom Is You

When all is said and done, what Mom really wants is to be with her family.  She’s a sentimental softy and a natural nurturer.  Give her what she really wants and just be with her on her special day.  She spent nine months carrying you around!  Can’t you spend the day letting her know how much she means to you?  Just this once?
Flowers for Mom

Happy Mother’s Day from Christmas All The Time!

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