Thursday, July 25, 2013

Holidays: Stateside! Valethanksmas Birthdependeaster Day

(This is a continuation of the Holidays: Thriving, Not Just Surviving Series.)
Holidays: Thriving, Not Just Surviving Part 1
Holidays: Thriving, Not Just Surviving Part 2

Happy Valethanksmas Birthdependeaster Day!

That's a mouthful, isn't it? Before we left the States, we celebrated one last holiday with the family... ALL the holidays rolled into one! (This idea works great for those heading to the field for the first time, or for those on furlough who will not get to spend each of the holidays with family because of short furloughs or travelling needs.)

Our families all pitched in to make it happen. We picked the holidays that the children loved the most. We picked a house to host the festivities. Individual invitations were sent by mail to the children. They were personalized, and PERFECT!

The day arrived, and the children had no idea what to expect. They just knew it was going to be fun. (By the way, blindfolds always add to the excitement and anticipation.)

When they arrived, they brought their special invitations with them to "get into the party."

As they entered, they realized each room was decorated with a different holiday theme. We kept the decorations pretty simple and basic... just enough to give the "feel" of the holiday. We started out with Thanksgiving. Yes, in October, we had a FULL Thanksgiving meal with everyone's favorites. We were stuffed! We only had a couple of desserts for Thanksgiving, though... there were more desserts coming on other holidays.

Then we moved on to Valentines Day. The children each had a Valentine's box specially designed by Gramma D. Each of the family members had taken the time to write a personal valentine to each child. It was so sweet. The children sat down and read them one at a time. There were a few that I really had to hold back the tears on.

 Next we went to Christmas. The stereo was turned on with Christmas music. A favorite holiday movie was on the TV, but the volume was muted. The small Christmas tree was lit... and the fun began! The gifts chosen were things that could be easily taken to the field. Some were necessities. Others were things that would be a comfort on the field. New DVDs and video games, clothing items, and things to make travel on the 24 hours of plane rides easier. They actually had to play a game to see who got to open the next gift.

Next came Easter/Resurrection Sunday. We have always tried to focus this holiday on the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. For this one, we borrowed a wooden cross from a church. We had different index cards posted on the cross. Each index card told a different aspect of the story. Each card was placed in the spot that related to the story. (When it was speaking of the crown of thorns, that card was placed at the head of the cross.)

Some of the cards had trivia questions on them. There were also secret prizes that went with each card. For example, when it told about the spear in the side, there was "Spearmint" candy. When it told about His feet, they got specialty footwear (like Ben's Carolina Tarheel socks and Gabe's bedroom slippers.)

Next, we had everybody's birthday party. It was a camo themed party because my children were ALL really into camo. (Even my daughter!)

Everyone got a cupcake with a candle and everyone got gifts. The kids received Amazon gift cards for their Kindles. Those were perfect since they couldn't take books with them!

 Painting camo on Gramma D!

As the sun went down, we celebrated Independence Day.

The children have asked many times if we will have Valethanksmas Birthdependeaster Day again. They are looking forward to getting together with family, even if it is just for one day. This idea also took some of the sting out of not celebrating these holidays with Stateside family the first year. They felt like they did!

A memory made.
Something to look forward to.


Joyful said...

What a great idea, especially for the children.

Jolene Sloan said...

Oh, my! This is brilliant!!!

Sally Stensaas said...

This is a wonderful idea! I love it. This would be great for even churches to do for their missionaries. One thing I would add would be to give the missionary family decorations for each holiday to take back with them - something small and lightweight such as table runners, confetti, window clings, etc.