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Simple Celebrations: The Twelve Days of Christmas

Revisiting Some Archived Articles that Have Not Been Lost, but May Have Been Forgotten and Are Worth a Fresh Read
Original Post Date: December 5, 2011

In the bustle of Christmas, sometimes it is good to plan for simplicity. A couple of years ago, I wanted to be purposeful about protecting our family time together during the holidays, so I orchestrated a family experience of the twelve days of Christmas. In addition to the activities listed below, we read the Christmas story from Luke 2 each night, so that the children easily memorized it by the end of the season. Each evening for twelve nights, we opened a small family gift featuring a family activity.

• On the first night, we opened the Charlie Brown Christmas movie. It is a rare treat to find a pop culture icon which concludes with the reading of the Nativity Story from Luke 2.

• On Day 2, we opened snowman mugs and gourmet hot chocolate, which we then enjoyed around the fire.

• On Day 3, we made Christmas ornaments together and decorated the tree.

• Day 4 revealed special Christmas placemats to set the table before dinner.

• Day 5, we opened a game, made Chex Mix, and played the game together.

• Day 6, we worked a book of Christmas puzzles together.

• Day 7, we opened a restaurant gift card, went out for dinner, and then drove around looking at Christmas lights.

• Day 8, we indulged in a box of chocolates ordered from our favorite candy store in Los Angeles.

• Day 9, we opened The Legend of the Candy Cane and read it around the fire.

• Day 10, we opened and worked a jigsaw puzzle that truly required the whole family's help.

• Day 11, we unwrapped sheet music, and I played the piano while we sang carols together.

• Day 12 offered the family favorite—a new tin of metal cookie cutters which we took to Nana's house to bake, ice, and decorate sugar cookies.

We also studied the reputedly Christian meanings behind the Twelve Days of Christmas song. Some claim that persecuted Catholics used the song as a code to instruct their children in doctrine. Others claim that this is an urban legend. Either way, our family enjoyed discussing the symbolism each night, an exercise which reinforced important tenets of our faith.

1. The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ.

2. The two turtle doves are the Old and New Testaments.

3. The three French hens stand for faith, hope, and love.

4. The four calling birds are the four Gospels.

5. The five gold rings recall the Torah (Law), the first five books of the Old Testament.

6. The six geese a-laying stand for the six days of creation.

7. Seven swans a-swimming represent the sevenfold gifts of the Spirit.

8. The eight maids a-milking are the eight Beatitudes.

9. Nine ladies dancing are the nine fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5).

10. The ten lords a-leaping are the Ten Commandments.

11. Eleven pipers piping stand for the eleven faithful disciples.

12. Twelve drummers drumming symbolize the twelve points of belief in the Apostles Creed.

The cost of our twelve days of Christmas was small, but the children eagerly looked forward to each evening. I pray that you and yours think of creative ways to celebrate this Advent season!

CATEGORIES: Articles, Big Ideas: Truth, Beauty, Goodness and more!, Homeschooling Life

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