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Yes, Virginia, you CAN spend quality family time together during the holidays...
BUT you definitely have to plan for it!
And the trick, when you have teens, is to get them engaged in the process.
Actually, this is a great time to think about how your teen learns, too, because that may come into play as you prepare. For example, is your teen a kinesthetic learner? Then she might enjoy an evening doing family crafts or baking, or decorating the tree or the house.
Is your teen visual or auditory? Perhaps a movie night would be more suitable, or even family caroling in the neighborhood, followed by hot cocoa at home.
I have a son who is an uber-academic, and he is writing out a list of Old Testament prophecies of Jesus' birth that we'll find, read, and talk about as a family one night. (OK, he might be a bit of an over-achiever, too!)
Day 5 - Craft a special family evening
One of the things I hope you've picked up from the series this week is the importance of the relationship you have with your teen.
My desire was not to create yet another "to do" list and explain how you could get the kids to crank it out, but rather to change our own approach to the holiday as parents.
You see, "preparing for Christmas" has everything to do with preparing our hearts. And the Christmas season is a wonderful opportunity for nurturing the parent-teen relationship by engaging their hearts.
As teens, they are getting ready to leave the nest, and if we have not created a nest where they feel safe and loved and valued, well, quite frankly, they will have little reason to return.
By taking the emphasis off the "stuff" of Christmas and placing it on each other, we're crafting a safe haven where they DO feel loved and valued.
So now let's look at this final way that we can prepare for Christmas with our teens.
In addition to those few ideas mentioned above, a very special way our family prepares for Christmas is during the Advent season.
Over the years, I've put together a short devotional that we use with our Advent wreath, decorated a Jesse tree, counted down the days with Advent calendars (both purchased and hand-made, both secular and religious), and planned community outreach opportunities using a paper-chain.
As your kids become teens, they can start planning these for the family! The planning and creation (below) can be done over the course of an evening or two together, or you can actually do one/some/all of these each evening during the holidays, or... See what I'm doing here?
Provide options and the time, and let your teens plan away!
- Advent wreaths come in tons of shapes and sizes and can be as simple or elaborate as you wish! You can sing a song and/or read a Bible verse together before supper, or let your teen come up with his or her own option.
- Jesse Trees are a wonderful way to connect the Old Testament prophecies and symbols of Jesus with His coming, and that project, too, is not too simple for teens. As a matter of fact, years ago a mom's group I was in planned a lovely evening together coming up with our own versions to share with each other and take home...
- Advent calendars are fun to make and use at ANY age! When my older kids were teens, they loved being a part of things by "helping" the littles open the doors, and then read to them each day. (Of course, the favorite versions, hands down, were the ones with candy in them!) Because they're slightly challenging to put together or create on your own, they're the perfect project for more-able teens to make.
- We used paper-chains in a variety of ways throughout the year, but at Christmas, we would cut 24 slips of paper, write 24 individual things to do (such as make Christmas cards for the church staff, or visit the neighbors with cookies, or make a batch of peanuts together, etc.) and then create the chain. Each day we would tear off one link, read it, and do whatever it suggested.
Of course, adding some of the munchies you've made and a cup of hot cocoa adds that extra-special touch to any family evening together.
Sooo...what would the perfect family evening look like with your crew? I'd love to hear what your teen (and you!) plans for your family this season. Hope you'll be willing to share it with us all in the comments...
And thank you for joining me in this series as we discovered a few ways to prepare for Christmas...together with our teens <3!
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This post is part one of a 5-part series. Read the other parts here:
5 Days of Preparing for Christmas with Your Teen