The last days of November mark the beginning of a rush of family birthdays which continue through to the end of March for us. With Christmas preparations added to the birthday celebrations life can get quite busy. I often think of the words of the Christmas hymn, Joy to the World, where it says,
How do we make room in our hearts and in our lives for Him at a time of year when everything pushes us into rush and busyness?
Keeping things simple and do-able is the only way I can do this. Perhaps in a different season of life my plans could be more complex, but for the time being, simple is do-able. Below are some ideas that we’ve used, or are planning to use, over the season of Advent. They are mostly ideas that fit well with the rhythm of our Ambleside Online schedules, which are usually still in place up until the second or third week of December. Some of these ideas have become yearly traditions, which are simple for us because we’ve already done them multiple times. Some are things that were great one year but didn’t suit the next.
Music is on of the easiest ways for our hearts to ‘prepare Him room.’ I’ll start with our favourite Christmas folksong for the past two years – an oldie with a new twist: Go Tell it on the Mountain.
And another we listen to: I Saw Three Ships.
The original poem, Christmas Bells by William Wadsworth Longfellow was written in 1864 during the American Civil War. The whole poem and the story behind it is here. One of my very favourites for this time of year and very appropriate as we see what is happening in other parts of the world or sometimes within our own borders.
“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”
Joy to the World! An Advent Devotional Journey through the Songs of Christmas by Ray Pritchard. This is a kindle edition available from Amazon and they were offering it as a free download. It may still be available. Each day from the 1st to the 25th December a Christmas hymn or song is highlighted, some of the history of the song is covered, and then there is a link to a youtube version of the song. A handy pick up & go, no planning needed, resource. I would find doing a different song each day too much and would prefer to concentrate on just a few which would work just as well.
I’ve added some links below to posts where I’ve included some hymns that we like to listen to leading up to Christmas.
The Birth by Gene Edwards. I reviewed this book here. This is a refreshing and different view of the whole Christmas story in fictional form, and I really enjoy it for that reason. I have a friend who reads this every Christmas.
I Will Honour Christmas in my Heart – books we used last Christmas; some lovely picture books are included. We read through Dicken’s A Christmas Carol and listened to a recording of Handel’s Messiah using Cindy’s schedule.
Advent favourites – this is a post I did two years ago that includes a range of ideas and resources – art, music, handicraft etc. which we’ve used for Advent and Christmas.
Christmas Ideas in a Charlotte Mason Education – another post: books, handicraft etc.