Thursday, December 19, 2013

Seven Days of Christmas: Day 1

Last year, I wrote about a new tradition we'd began in my family doing the Seven Days of Christmas. 
The idea is that we have a theme each day and the presents given and experiences shared get less and less about ourselves and more and more about others and about Christ so that by Christmas, there is only stockings in the morning and family and Christmas stories and music and memories. It requires very little shopping, and only a little planning each morning. I'm loving it! It's my version of likening the meaning of Christmas to my family and life.

This year, I decided to take pictures and share how each day goes. Maybe you'll find ideas that inspire you to try this with your own family! Otherwise, it's a good old-fashioned blog designed to update my family across the country.

Day one's theme is "Treasure Hunt for Toys." This year was easy - every single one of my kids begged for LEGOS. Thanks to aunt Mary's donation, I could do double what I was planning for each child. Way to start the week off with a materialistic focus, right? ;-)

Treasure Hunt for Toys

Ready for the treasure hunt? YES!

Singing Silent Night to set the tone. . .

Then a video of Jesus' birth... (This one)

Then I told the kids to look at this table and find two things that will help them in their treasure hunt. 

They found a card on the Bible that read,
 You search for treasure, toys to be exact, but shepherds 2013 years ago looked to find something more valuable than gold - our Savior Jesus Christ. Find treasure if you must, but let the scriptures be your guide. In word and in letter you’ll spell out your treasure:
Luke 2:7
3-4, 1-2, 1-3, 2-3, 3-2, 13-1, 7-2, 20-5, 20-3, 21-2

_ _ _ _ _     _ _ _ _ _ 

They set to work!

Making sure everyone was involved . . .

They discovered the first number stood for the number of word in the verse, and the second number after the dash was the number of letter in that word.

It spelled "under couch" - Nathan wasted no time!

And he found a present for him and another clue!

I let him unwrap it and put it on the table before we moved on - here he's sharing with Adam all the great pieces he'll be able to use to build other things in his head.

The next clue read,
You have found some treasure, open by name.
To only seek for ourselves, is not the same,
 We must help the others before our leisure,
So all may find their greatest treasure.

Luke 2:10
5-1, 1-2, 4-4, 2-3, 7-4, 4-1, 2-1, 1-1, 11, 9-3, 15-7

_ _ _ _ _     _ _ _ _ _ _


 I think this is Lizzy saying something like, "Oh you have to be kidding me!"


As soon as they figured out, "under stairs" the race was on! 


Elise asks, "Is it for me??" 


 And Elise wasn't the only disappointed one that it was for Lizzy (check out Norah's scowl, haha). 


Nathan set out to help the others, keeping his treasure close by. The next clue read,

Two have found, two are still seeking.
Keep helping each other and gather all in one.
Speaking of which, this one puzzle is one word in two verses. 
One word and many uses. One place, and one treasure.
(With "one" indicating every letter :-)

Luke 2:11-12
2-1, 6-1, 4-1, 19-1, 16-1, 18-1, 27-1

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

The word "utility" had them guessing until the very last letter. 
But then there was no guessing. To the Utility closet!!!!

And . . . 

Their treasure was a present for Norah . . .  

And another clue...

We’ve reached the last - hurry fast!
Be careful pray tell, this one is guarded well.

Luke 2:16
4, 13-1, 4-2, 8-3, 1-3

_ _ _ _      _ _ _ _ 

I don't even know if that's the right use of the phrase "pray tell" LOL - but it rhymed!
And I was in a hurry this morning to make these clues before they woke up!

 The answer was "with bird" and it didn't take them long to figure out it was in the chest under Lacey's cage.

Elise had waited long and had seen all the cool sets go to her little sisters, so here she is, trying very hard to be excited by two smaller boxes. (And I'm the one behind the camera wondering if I'll see the smile I am hoping for in the next minute!!!)

Yay!  She smiled! 

Then it was Adam's turn.  He would get to help the kids build all their sets while I finished studying for my final and ran off to take it at the testing center. 

Here he is, trying to look excited, haha.
And when I came home I found four very happy children and their finished masterpieces. . .

Lizzy actually built this all by herself she tells me!

Norah is especially excited about the little details of this set. So sweet.

Our first day of the Seven Days of Christmas is done - the most traditional of all the days yet to come. Though the scripture and doctrinal elements in the clues were mostly lost on my kids, it was worth a try!

But maybe I have one more try with this post to bring that element in.  Last week, my Momma Day (too amazing of a woman and too kind to me to call her by such a cold noun as "mother-in-law") gave us tickets to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert. The story of Dicken's experience coming to write "A Christmas Carol" was very touching. And timely! For the next night we realized it would be the only night to catch my niece acting in her community's rendition of that very story. Being a smaller production, it was a slightly different script than the one I usually see and the actor who portrayed Scrooge was so sincere and so strong in his skills that I was moved to tears and left ponderous.

Charles Dicken's and his character Scrooge both had powerful experiences that turned their focus from temporal treasures, to heavenly eternal treasures - specifically, the relationships we have with our family and friends. Will it take a visit from angels for us to make that shift? What are we seeking right now, this minute?

These thoughts prepare me for Day Two of the Seven Days of Christmas: Games and Giving. Can I take the activities planned for today and create an environment where the focus is on strengthening relationships, not "checking the list" and "getting it done?" Here's hoping . . .