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Celebrate Joy Every Day this Month

Celebrate Joy Every Day this Month

Aside from Easter, the most special season in a believer’s life takes place this month. In more recent years, the commercialism of Christmas quite often overshadows the cradle of Christmas. Find ways to slow down to smell the evergreens and cocoa and avoid falling into the frazzled-trap. Use every day during the month of December to point your family to the crib instead of the chaos by intentionally talking about Jesus’ birth and the true meaning of Christmas. In addition to the traditional celebratory days of December, throw in the holidays below to create family memories that you’ll cherish for a long time.

International Cheetah Day – Did you know the cheetah can run at speeds of seventy-five miles per hour? The cheetah is the fastest animal on land and has long, graceful legs that help it accelerate rapidly and slam on brakes quickly, too. Celebrate one of God’s beautiful creations with some family running races outside. Pick a clear spot to run like a cheetah, on all four “legs” by placing hands on the ground and darting quickly across the grass. Don gloves first, to make it a more comfy run. For the next fun relay, sprint for a short distance while holding the hand of a partner. Create another relay by placing a few obstacles, like small boxes or empty paper grocery bags, in the way for participants to leap over while running. Try a different race by running around the house for a couple of laps. And, finally, try a race in which one person calls out “go” and “stop” as the participants run along a course, and the ‘cheetah’-runners have to accelerate and stop accordingly.

Brownie Day – Gather in the kitchen to whip up this festive recipe with just a few ingredients to celebrate the always-delicious brownie dessert. Grease the bottom and sides of a 13 X 9-inch pan with vegetable spray. Break apart a 16.5 ounce roll of refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough into pieces and place in the prepared pan. Gently press with fingertips to form a crust in the pan. Prepare a favorite family-size brownie mix according to the instructions on the back of the box. Pour the batter over the uncooked cookie dough. Break ten holiday-red Oreo cookies into smaller chunks and sprinkle evenly over the brownie batter. Press cookies lightly into the batter with the back of a spoon. Bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 35 minutes, but check often near the end of cooking by inserting a toothpick in the center. If the toothpick comes out clean, the dessert is ready to remove from oven.

Poinsettia Day – Create a homemade holiday decoration with this craft project. Start the project a day ahead to prepare the paper.  Cover the working area with newspapers. Use kitchen sponges dipped in a shallow amount of red paint to cover several sheets of computer paper. Use a different sponge dipped in a shallow amount of green paint to cover several sheets of computer paper, also, but less green paper is required for the craft. The next day when the paper is completely dry, have everyone in the family trace and cut out handprints on the prepared paper. Staple a row of green handprints around the outside edge of a paper plate. Working into the center of the plate, staple two rows of red handprints all the way around the edge of the plate, and then one more row of green prints, and finish with red prints to fill in the plate completely. Glue small, yellow craft pompoms in the center of the flower. To give the decoration a more three-dimensional look, roll and then unroll the “fingers” of some of the prints to make them curl slightly. Place the decoration on a table for a centerpiece.

Look for an Evergreen Day – Take a brisk walk on a cold day to look for evergreen trees. Bundle up with jackets and scarves and hats and mittens and wander through the woods or on a hiking trail to look for evergreen trees. (If neither of those options work for you, take the family to a Christmas tree lot and admire the trees there.) Smell some of the leaves or needles of the trees, if possible; snap some pictures, and look for critters flying around or running about the trees. While you’re on the walk, it might be a good time to remind the kids about the non-evergreen trees, the deciduous ones, in the wintertime. Though many of the deciduous trees appear dead without foliage, the promise of hope and new life is always there, hidden within the branches. Jesus makes all things new and promises eternal life with Him.

Winter Solstice – Celebrate the shortest day of the year and the first official day of winter. Check out or purchase several wintry chapter books to read on cold evenings this month. Read aloud together books like Snow Treasure, The Long Winter, Skating Shoes, or Heidi. Find some time this month to also read Dolly Parton’s book, Coat of Many Colors. After reading the book, take a family trip to purchase some warm winter coats for someone in need. Deliver the jackets to a women’s shelter or fostering organization or church closet.

Snuggle by the fireplace, drink hot cocoa, take a walk downtown to admire holiday decorations, watch favorite Christmas movies, sing carols loudly along with the radio, wrap presents together, and tell the story of Jesus’ birth over and over again – that’s just the beginning of making fond, warm family memories to treasure for a lifetime. Make every day a joyful holiday this December by spending time with the ones you love. Merry Christmas!

By: Julie Lavender

Join us at www.just18summers.com for our parenting blog each Monday-Friday and for info about the Just 18 Summers novel.

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