Thursday, January 1, 2015

What worked for us: Christmas 2014

More and more I have been purposefully working to keep our life simple and meaningful.  Our Christmas activities were not exempt.  Here are some of the special things we did this year that worked for us.

Christmas Day
  1. Truth in Tinsel - We love this preschool friendly Advent devotional for families.  This is the second year we have used it.  All three kids participated and colored ornaments related to each days part of the Christmas story. 3 kids X 24 daily crafts= a lot of ornaments to display.  This year we painted a tree on newsprint to "hang" our daily ornaments on.  The kids liked adding out our tree each day and it helped with our theme of preparation for Christmas. 
  2. We bought a live tree - This year we finally did it.  It wasn't like our childhoods but we did it.  We had a full size and live tree.  Both of us remember going and cutting down the Christmas tree on family land.  This year we went to a tent where we could choose a cut tree from North Carolina that had a color coded label for the size.  But none the less it was a live tree.  
  3. Homemade ornaments - I picked up 2 sets of ornament craft kits and some glitter glue and we started working.  It was a fun way to ease into the holiday season and build anticipation for decorating the tree.  We had foam ornaments and wooden popsicle sticks and it pretty well filled the tree.  We also made some salt dough ornaments to go with our Truth in Tinsel crafts as well.  
  4. Nathaniel's Toy Shop - Nathaniel's Hope is an awesome ministry based here in Orlando.  They encourage and support families with VIP (special needs) kids.  One of their projects is a toy giveaway program for VIP families.  We not only got to shop for a few toys for our kids but also got to see Santa and were visited by R2-D2 and some sweet therapy dogs while we were waiting.  
  5. Making and giving fudge - I have so many great memories of my Grandma.  the strongest of which usually involve food or smells.  Every year she would make fudge for the holidays.  My mom says it the best recipe ever, she may be a little bias.  As a kid we would make fudge in addition to cookies to give to the neighbors and enjoy ourselves.  I have kept the tradition.  What makes it easy is, the recipe makes 5 pounds of fudge so there is more than enough to give way and keep for yourself.  It gives us a simple way to give a gift to others who have been a part of our lives over the previous year.  This year that included teachers, therapists, co-workers friends and neighbors
  6. Not making cookies - This year a choice we made with doing what was meaningful.  Cookies didn't happen.  Not until the Grandparents came to visit and even then it was Christmas eve and we only made 3 simple recipes.  Grandpa's must have Spritz, Molasses for Bob, and Rice Crispy treats for the kids.  
    Reading one of our presents
  7. Opening a few Gifts Early - We let the kids open a few gifts early one each on the 2 days leading up to Christmas.  It fit with our advent study, and they asked so nicely ;-)  This helped alleviate the anxiety and anticipation of opening everything on Christmas morning.  Unwrapping gifts can be a source of meltdowns for ASD kids and this helped at our house.  It gave them something special to play with while the adults were doing the last minute preparations.  
  8. Opening our Gifts as we unwrapped them - We decided that we would allow the kids to unpackage each gift as they opened it and open the next one when they were ready.  This was great fun to really enjoy each gift as it was discovered and let to a slower start to our morning.  We also could keep the wrapping picked up by opening presents at a slower pace.  In the end we did end up with some rapid fire opening but everything was enjoyed and not forgotten.   

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