The following are activities that build on one another until that final moment.... Christmas!.... arrives. Please feel invited to engage the week-by-week activities once a week or as many times as your schedule allows. They're meant to be flexible.
You can participate in most of the reflections without specific materials, but the "kits" that went home with our families are pictured below. In addition to those items, you'll need glue, a craft brush, crayons and greenery. h, crayons, greens from your yard and some matches.
HELLO means GOODBYE - December 1st-7th
The beginning of waiting and the start of the Christmas season can feel like a very overwhelming "HELLO!" All of a sudden there are lists and lights and parties and plans! BUT, in every "hello", in every beginning, in every start.... there is an ending; a "goodbye". What are the things you are saying "goodbye" to as you begin waiting for Christmas? What things are ending? What are you putting away (even just for a little while) to make space for this season? As a household, use the blue Sharpee to write or draw those goodbyes and endings on the pottery base. Come back to this question as many times this week as feels necessary. Each time you finish writing, place one candle on the base and light it. Then take time to dream out loud about one thing this week that brought light, life and "hello" to you.
What we *really* need - December 8th-14th
Have you made your wish list yet? Looking for a way to balance the ever-present question: "is this *really* what Christmas is all about?" Don't worry Charlie Brown, we're inviting you to dig in to a different kind of list this week. There are probably more delicate entry points to this dissonance, but let's get into it. To quote the prophet Martin Luther King Jr., "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere....whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly." There are neighbors in our community for whom this season is hard. The lights, the lists, the hubbub only serve to remind them about their loss or how little they have. Maybe they are missing a loved one who is no longer with us. Maybe no matter how hard they work they cannot afford the things that others' can. Using the blue tissue paper, consider: 1) the things you have that you can give to others. (money, food, hand-me-down clothes to a clothes closet, time and conversation etc.) and 2) what your neighbors' Christmas list might look like this year. Using crayons, write those words on the tissue paper and then collage the tissue paper onto the pottery base. Together as a household, light TWO candles and consider how your artwork moves you to reach out to your neighbors this holiday season.
SURPRISE! - December 15th - 21st
One of the really exciting things about Christmas is the space it creates for us to celebrate and experience surprise. We're surprised by the gifts we receive, we're surprised by an experience of joy and wonder , we're surprised when it begins to snow on Christmas Eve! Surprise is a particularly important emotion and experience in a world that can feel so planned. Letting our kids help us to experience surprise is particularly important as well. This week, share stories together as a household about experiences of surprise, times you've encountered the unexpected. How did you feel? What was special about that experience? Each time you share a story, take a star from the kit and place it on the pottery base in the midst of your candles. Then, light three candles and hold some silence together to dream about the ways you might be surprised this Christmas!
The Longest Night and the Liveliest Moment - December 22nd-25th
December 21st is the longest night of the year. Sunset to sunrise on the 22nd is 18 hours, 15 minutes and 50 seconds in Portland, OR. Beginning the night of the 22nd, light lengthens. Days begin to get lighter and lighter, even in the midst of winter. Christmas comes just after we begin leaning into the lengthening of days, which is appropriate because Christmas is the story of a lengthening and a lightening. It's the story of God showing up in the most fragile and light-filled way possible: as a baby. Christmas is a time we get to claim the truth that things that are alive, that are light, that are joy.... show up in our world no matter what. The story of baby Jesus, born of a peasant girl named Mary reminds us that life is always possible and that often the most special moment isn't the quietest or the most ordered. (Because childbirth is neither of those things!) BUT it is often the liveliest moment! These next days, take time during meals to name the "lively" moments of your holiday celebration together. Each time you name a lively moment, celebrate it together by placing something green, growing and lively into the circle of your candles and pottery base. Notice how "lively" moments can be fragile, and joyful, and chaotic, and loud, and quiet and.... a lot of things! On Christmas, light all four candles and take time to share one thing with one another that is helping you feel alive in these days of celebration.