Tuesday, December 15, 2009

FHE Lesson: A Gift for Jesus

Lesson: A Gift for Jesus

Talk to your kids about how at Christmas Santa brings gifts and how we all give presents to each other.

Why do we do that?

Because it reminds us of all the gifts that Jesus gave us when he was born and lived on earth. List them off with your family:
  • the gospel
  • the atonement (eternal life)
  • resurrection (salvation)
  • His example
  • the Holy Ghost
  • eternal families
  • everything!
Read James 1:17 "Every good gift and every perfect gift cometh from above..."

That means everything good we have comes from Jesus. Express your gratitude for all the things the Lord has given you.

Ask the following questions:

Whose birthday is on Christmas?

Did he get any presents on his birthday?

Show a picture or use the figures from you nativity of the Three Wise Men. Explain how they traveled far to see the baby Jesus and they brought Him special gifts to show their love and respect for him. Tell your family the gifts they brought.

Explain that since Christmas is Jesus' Birthday, we want to make sure we remember Him by giving him a gift.

Read the following scripture: D&C 4:2- "Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day." and/or:

3 Nephi 9:20- "And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit."

Explain that since Jesus has given us everything, the only thing and the best thing we can offer Him is our hearts.

We offer our hearts by trying harder to be like Him:
  • more obedient
  • kind to others
  • helpful
  • pray more
  • read the scriptures
  • etc.
This Christmas, what will your gift to Jesus be? Will you promise to obey your parents? or to be more helpful? or to be more kind?

Have everyone write down on a piece of paper what their gift to Jesus will be. You can have them share or keep them private.

After they're all written down, put them in a small gift box. Put Jesus' name on the box and put it under your Christmas tree.

Bare your testimony about the birth of the Savior. Express your gratitude for all the gifts He's given you and invite your family to strive to remember the gifts they promised to give Him.

Activity: we play the "Symbols of Christmas" memory game or you could color pictures of the Wise Men bringing gifts.

Treat: We didn't do this, but I thought it would be fun to have a birthday cake, since we talked about it being Jesus' birthday

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Homemade Ornaments

Popcorn Cranberry Garland

You'll need:
  • Popcorn (not buttery popcorn and it needs to be at least a day old)
  • Cranberries (I used about 2 packages)
  • Tooth Floss (white)
  • Needle
  1. Measure out your floss. Rather than doing one really long rope, I did about 4 ropes so it wouldn't be so hard to handle when I put it on the tree. Thread your needle and tie a large knot on the end.
  2. Start making your garland. Do whatever pattern you'd like. Tie a knot when you get to the end of your floss and hang on your tree!

This garland will last all season long, but I wouldn't save it for next year. Make it a tradition to make it every year with your kids. I tried to get Noah to help me make ours, but he didn't want to. Maybe your kids will be more enthusiastic about it. I'm sure Clara would love to help, but we'll wait until she's older.

Tip: I didn't use microwave popcorn this year. I used my stove top, old fashioned popper (the kind with the handle you have to turn constantly), and the popcorn was way better because the kernels were huge, which is a lot easier for poking with your needle.

Cinnamon Dough Ornaments

1 1/2 cups cinnamon
1 cup applesauce
1/4 cup Elmer's glue
wax paper
cookie sheets
  1. Mix ingredients. Dough should be as thick as cookie dough. Add water if it's too thick.
  2. Remove from bowl and knead. Put back in bowl and cover. Let sit for at least 1/2 hour.
  3. Remove dough and knead again. Roll the dough between waxed paper until it's between 1/4" and 1/8" thickness (I actually did NOT roll it out between waxed paper. I found it worked much better without the wax paper and it didn't really stick to my rolling pin.)
  4. Cut out shapes with cookie cutter. Use a straw to punch out a hole at the top of your shapes for the string to go through.
  5. Gently place shapes on wax paper lined cookie sheets. Let air dry 3-5 days, flipping 2-3 times a day to prevent curling.
  6. Tie with a string (I used jute) and hang on your Christmas tree!

I love these! I had some leftover from last year that still worked but I wanted even more, so we made more. I love them because they are easy, the kids like to help because they love using cookie cutters, and they smell really good.

Tip: To speed up drying, bake at 200 degrees on your wax paper lined cookie sheets for 2 hours, turning at 1 hour with a metal spatula. I tried this out this year, and it worked great. Some of them still curled a little, but they look fine.

I absolutely love the look of cute, homemade ornaments, especially ones that are edible (although you would not want to eat them for real!). One of these years I plan on doing a Christmas tree where every ornament is homemade in the kitchen.

If you have any homemade ornament ideas that are made with food, let me know! Martha Stewart has this one (slide number 3) that I really want to make. That will be next year's addition to our tree.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Symbols of Christmas

Sorry I haven't posted in a bit. I have lots to say this month, but haven't had much energy to say it yet thanks to some holes a surgeon put in my tummy. Don't worry- everything's fine. I won't give you the gory details. Just promise me that you will never EVER get an IUD!! That's all.

I'm bursting with excitement at what I'm about to post. It warmed my heart with Christmas cheer when I first heard it on Sunday during Sharing Time, and I couldn't wait to share it with all of you (I know people read this blog because I spy on all my visitors. It's alright if you're all too shy to comment. I usually don't comment on strangers' blogs either, so I understand). I hope it inspires you and gladdens your heart like it did mine. What I'm about to give you would make a wonderful FHE lesson.

First, share the story
"Teach the Children." I had never heard this story before. Have you? If not, I'll quickly summarize. It's about a man who sees Santa in his living room on Christmas Eve. The man is surprised to find that Santa is sad because people seem to have forgotten the true meaning of Christmas. So, Santa tells the man to teach the children about the symbols of Christmas- the tree, the star, the bells, the candy canes- and how they point to the true meaning of Christmas- our Lord, Jesus Christ. It's such a sweet story!

After you read the story, play a memory game with your family. This you will have to prepare beforehand, of course. Here are the instructions:
  • Print off or draw pictures of Christmas symbols on small cards.
  • On other cards, write the meaning of the symbols.
  • Color code the backside of the two different types of cards- make the symbol cards green and the meaning cards red
  • Turn the cards over so the color side is showing
  • Each person takes a turn, turning over a symbol card and trying to find its matching meaning card.

(That sounds really confusing. Sorry! I'm sure you can figure it out- it's not rocket science, even though I made it sound like it is.)

To make life easier for you, here are the definitions of the symbols:

THE STAR: a heavenly sign of prophecy fulfilled long ages ago. It's the shining hope of mankind and a reminder that wise men still seek Him.

RED: the first color of Christmas. It symbolizes God's greatest gift- the Savior's sacrifice for all.

FIR TREE: evergreen- the second color of Christmas shows everlasting life. The needles point heavenward.

THE BELL: rings out to guide lost sheep back to the fold, signifying all are precious in the eyes of the Lord. It calls for all to follow the true Shepherd.

THE CANDLE: represents our gratitude for the gift of God's son. It symbolizes the light within all of us, shining for all to see.

GIFT BOW: tied as we should all be tied together in bonds of goodwill forever.

CANDY CANE: the shepherd's crook used to bring lambs back to the fold. It's a reminder that we are all our brother's keeper. It also forms a J, representing the precious name of Jesus who came to Earth.

THE WREATH: a symbol of the never ending eternal nature of love, having no beginning and no end.

SANTA CLAUS: represents family fun and the joy of giving and receiving.

After you play the matching game, read this wonderful book, "I Believe in Santa Claus" by Diane Adamson.

It is a simple yet profound summary of everything that was just explained. At the end of the book she lists the symbols and their meanings, and she may even include some that are listed above (I'm not sure because my friend borrowed it, so I don't have it with me right now). If you've never heard of this book before, you MUST get it because, trust me, you'll LOVE it!

I hear people say they feel bad that we have so much fun with Santa Claus and candy canes and Christmas trees because they think it detracts from the true meaning of Christmas. I feel bad for them because they don't understand the beautiful meaning behind it all. They also don't understand this: "If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or praiseworthy, or of good report, we seek after these things." The reason we seek after those things is because everything that is good comes from and points toward Christ, and that's what makes this season so wonderful because it's filled with so many good things that symbolize the love of our Savior. Let's teach our families those things so they understand the reason and the meaning of the season.