Rick tried to read to our kids most nights as they were growing up. These books I’m sharing with you today were all-time favorites. I know some of my kids have done the same with their kids, too.
What better Christmas gift could you give than books you can read together as a family?
1. The Little House Books- The Early Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder- Ok, I guess this first favorite isn’t just 1 book. It’s a whole series of 9 books!We have spent many pleasant hours as a family reading through the “Laura books” and reading them over again. The stories are wonderful classics of years-gone- by and the strong bond of a loving family through the good and bad times- perfect to read aloud as a family.
2. James Herriot Treasury for Children– Another family favorite has been the James Herriot books. Rick has read selected stories from these books to the family. We were glad to see a children’s version come available. Sweet, heart-warming stories based on the vet’s experience in the Yorkshire hills. Some are hilariously funny and others sweet.
We were careful through the years not to buy trendy toys for our kids. We wanted toys that would allow them to simulate real life situations. We often made suggested lists for relatives to buy from so that they wouldn’t get things we really weren’t wild about them having. Our goal for our kids is to prepare them for real life, to be responsible people who serve God and care for others- so generally that was our guideline in choosing purchases for Christmas or birthday giving.
Below are some of our recommended toys. (I’ll recommend some of our favorite books real soon.)
LEGOS– My kids spent many happy hours playing Legos. It encourages their creativity and dexterity. This is one activity I let my older kids participate in during “naptime” hours for little ones. The older kids would stay in their rooms for an hour and half each day. They would do their Bible reading and then quiet play. During this time, we played audio books in their rooms, and much learning was done. (although it was so fun listening, that they sometimes would stay after the required “quiet time” was over!)
Here are some of the Lego sets I recommend. We tried to get things that encouraged “real” kind of play and creativity rather than fantasy.
Christmas is about the Gospel. Christmas is also a time of year that is full of opportunities to share this good news. I have listed just a few ideas that you might find doable for your family this season. These are activities and projects that have become traditions in our family each Christmas. Maybe at least one of these will spark your interest. Include your whole family. Take the time to do it!
Every year we make Christmas cookies and take them to the Emergency Services people in our community, volunteer fire departments, sheriff’s departments, rescue squad. We include a note to express our appreciation and to thank them for their services in behalf of our community as well as a gospel tract.
Each year we make nativity cookies for neighbors, a Christmas card and gospel tract. We had one lady tell us, whose Dad we have given these cookies for years, and who is not a Christian , how he always tells her we’ve come and how that opens the door to her to share the gospel again with him. The past couple of years we make cookies and take them to veterans as well. We’ve focused on World War II vets as they won’t be with us many more years. It’s a great way to honor them and open a door to share the gospel.
It has been our tradition to try to find a family who is struggling financially at Christmas time, maybe a single mom or a family who’s Dad’s been out of work, or a family who has a child with leukemia or another life threatening disease and bring presents for each family member. Each person chooses a gift for one of them. Young children can make them gifts as well. Again, it’s a fabulous way to share the gospel.
We have in years past gone Christmas caroling to shut-ins in their home or even the nursing home. It means so much to them! We plan to do this again this year as well. We usually combine the singing with bringing them a Christmas treat- cookies, a poinsettia, etc
During the years when we had lots of neighbors with young children, our children would deliver a wrapped Picture Bible to each household that had young children. The Picture Bible is a great tool for sharing God’s Word with another family in a non-threatening way. It was always received with gratitude and God only knows how it may have softened a child’s hear to the gospel.
1 package (18.5 oz.) yellow or white cake mix, plus ingredients to prepare mix
2 containers (16 oz. each) vanilla frosting
4 cups flaked coconut
15 large marshmallows
15 miniature peanut butter cups
Small red candies and pretzel sticks
Green and red decorating gel
Preheat oven to 350◦. Line 15 regular-size muffin pan cups and 15 small (about 1-inch) muffin cups with paper muffin cup liners. Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Spoon batter into muffin cups. Bake 10-15 minutes for small cupcakes and 15-20 for large cupcakes or until cupcakes are golden and toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans to racks; cool completely. Remove paper liners. For each snowman, frost bottom and side of 1 large cupcake, and coat with coconut. Repeat with 1 small cupcake. Attach small cupcake to large cupcake with frosting to form snowman body. Attach marshmallow to small cupcake with frosting to form snowman head. Attach inverted peanut butter cup to marshmallow with frosting to form the snowman’s hat. Use pretzels for arms and small red candies for buttons. Pipe faces with decorating gel. Repeat with remaining cupcakes.