Thursday, November 21, 2013

Holidays: Trading the Tree for Yarn

When we found out we were going to move to our new country, we knew we would have some decisions to make, even decisions on how we celebrate holidays. We were moving to a country where the people worship trees and idols.  We were concerned with how they would perceive a tree in the home... or a nativity scene on the mantle.

Christmas is still such a new holiday in this country. This is the fourth year it has been an official holiday.  Most people really are not sure how to even celebrate this new holiday.  It is a prime opportunity to introduce them to the real meaning of Christmas.

We sought counsel from other missionaries serving here. Some do not use a Christmas tree or any decorations that might be confusing. Some have a Christmas tree each year, but keep it in a private room. Others just celebrate the holiday the same way they did in the States.

After listening to the counsel and seeking God's direction for our family, we chose not to have a Christmas tree or any decorations that could potentially be confusing to someone entering our home.  As a family, we decided that the traditional Christmas tree was not as important to us as using the opportunity to show the real meaning of Christmas. We didn't want any room for confusion or distraction.

(This post is definitely not an attempt to criticize others who have chosen differently on the field. It is simply the direction the Lord led our family. This is all coming from a family who every year went up on the mountain to cut down a Christmas tree, ride a tractor down the mountain with our new tree, and drink hot chocolate while we decorated the tree in our home! My hope is that this post will encourage and inspire those who may have to or simply choose to celebrate Christmas a little differently for whatever reason.)

Since having a tree each year had been such a special, very treasured event, I knew we had to come up with an activity that got us AWAY from the tree. So in the States, we gave it a trial run. No tree with presents underneath, no nativity scenes, no Christmas lights on the house... but instead...

We followed a star.  Um, and a bunch of yarn!


While the children were still in bed, Daddy and I went to work.  We hid the presents throughout the house.  We attached yarn to the gifts and ran the yarn all in a maze.  Daddy went all out! He was way more elaborate than I ever imagined... and it was perfect!

The children each had a specific color of yarn. Michaela had red yarn, Gabriel had green yarn, and Ben had blue.  Each color of yarn determined whose gift was coming next.  The first clue was hanging in the hallway. (Please excuse everyone for being in their PJ's. It was Christmas morning!)

Since the picture is so blurry below, here is what it says:
"Today you will take a journey. Just as the wisemen followed a star to discover the King of Kings, you will follow a star to rediscover the birth of our Saviour... and the true meaning of Christmas. The color of yarn tells you whose turn it is."

Michaela went first, weaving around the house following the red yarn to the first gift.

Each star told a part of the Christmas story. They also related to the gift that was inside. The gift below was a watch for Ben. Blue yarn led to and from this present... that means it was Ben's present AND his turn again.

 This present had blue yarn going to it... and all three colors going away from it. That meant the next present was a combined gift.

This present spoke of the angels singing a song when Jesus was born. They didn't need a microphone... this present was a karaoke machine for Michaela.

Gifts were hidden EVERYWHERE! In cabinets, in the oven, under beds, tables... they had to follow the yarn to find them.

This gift was new yarn for Michaela because she was learning to knit. We used it to tell how Jesus wasn't wrapped in a nice blanket made of yarn.

 Each star walked them through the Christmas story... as well as all through the house and outside the house and around shrubs... and, um, even through the van. HA!

We also incorporated the Gospel in this activity... after all, isn't that why He came?

They loved it! It was a new family tradition. It wasn't just one they could live with. It was one they talked about for days. The next year, we decided to do one last traditional Christmas before heading over seas, and they missed the yarn hunt! So, what did we do last year for our first Christmas here? The yarn hunt! And you can bet we are getting things geared up for the hunt this year, too.

- Charity, Southern Asia


Mom said...

Wow! That's fantastic. Wish I could have been that creative when our kids were young and living at home! I sure hope that your post is an encouragement to others.

Jen Bauer said...

What a great idea, Charity! I love the Scripture emphasis!