Celebrate with Joy: Week 2
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Celebrate with Joy: Week 2

christmas joy

Image by ishane

It’s Week 2 of making this holiday season more meaningful using the book Celebrate with Joy!

How are your Advent activities going? We’ve been enjoying our special devotions (or “learning about Jesus’ names”, as my daughter says) so much. We’ve almost finished making our Names of Jesus garland, and it’s going to be beautiful when it’s finished. Each day we’ve been able to spend 10 minutes or so doing our Advent devotion, reading a scripture, doing a simple object lesson and then just discussing one of the many names that we use to describe our Savior.

Symbols of the Season- Chapter 3

This week I’ve spent some time reading through the chapter on Symbols of the Season. Here’s what Sondra (the author of Celebrate with Joy) has to say:

“Wreaths, holly, bells, angels… these are not merely pretty decorations for the Christmas season. They are symbols rich with spiritual meaning. We should know why we use them and teach our children their significance.

In the Old Testament, the Jewish people were to preserve the spiritual importance of each key event. They were to teach the meaning of their festivals to their children. God knew His people had short memories. He commanded them to talk of His Law at all times. The parents were to focus their children’s attention on God. Whether sitting at the table or taking a walk… they were to talk about Him at all times.

To restore the spiritual beauty of the Christmas season, let’s pack our traditions with their true meaning. How much richer to hang a wreath on your front door knowing it symbolizes God’s eternal love for His children… than simply to put up a pretty wreath because it is the “thing to do” in December.”

There are a number of symbols discussed in the book, with some of the history into their meaning and some ideas for how to use them in your Christmas celebrations and decorating (candles, holly, stars, bells, etc.). Here are a few that I am going to work on including more in our own celebrations:


willow tree nativity set

The set I’d love to get, the Willow Tree Nativity Set

The only Nativity scenes that we have are children’s ones (the Playmobil one and a really neat magnetic one for the fridge, where you add 1 new piece of the scene for each day of Advent). They’re both fun and great for the children, but I’ve realized that I would really like to have a manger scene that I find beautiful to put out on display. Not sure that it’s in the budget for this year, but I’m definitely thinking about it and will be keeping my eyes open when the after-Christmas sales hit. If anyone has some ideas for me of make-it-yourself projects that are simple and inexpensive, please share them in the comments section! In the meantime, I like some of Sondra’s ideas for creating a putz scene (something depicting part of the story of Jesus’ birth), like making a wall banner or decorating a window with parts of the story. It might be neat to decorate a large window with angels and stars and music notes, as the angels sang and glorified God at the birth of Christ.

Christmas Tree

Well, the tree is in the house, but not decorated as of yet. I need to remedy that today, as we’re hosting a big Christmas party tomorrow night. Yikes! Sondra suggests making the tree more meaningful by doing themed decorations (angels, lamb of God, joy, Christmas story, etc.) and gives ideas of specific ornaments that you can make. One of the things that we have enjoyed doing in past years and will do again this year is use Adorenaments. These are a set of 12 ornaments, each portraying a different name of Jesus or aspect of who He is. Inside each ornament (they’re thick cardboard and open like a card), there is something to read about Jesus as well as a scripture. On their fronts, they have an image (like a lamb, or a loaf of bread for the Bread of Life). We make these the last ornaments we put up, reading each of them before letting the kids put them on the tree. This adds a special element to our tree trimming time. I’m also considering making one new ornament with the kids and I found a lot of great craft and decor ideas here (scroll down to see a huge list of links to Christmas do-it-yourself crafts).



(This is the one I saw at MomAdvice and want to make!)

I’ve never thought about the symbolism of the wreath before, but here are a few that are mentioned in the book:

  • It speaks of God’s never ending love… this should comfort us
  • It pictures eternity. We will live forever in heaven with Christ if we are a part of His family… this should fill us with joy
  • The evergreens are “ever green” and speak of life. His life in us can make us “forever fresh” with the goodness of the Lord… this should give us strength

I don’t have a wreath, but I’d like to make one this year. I am thinking of attempting this beauty.

More Than Just Recipes- Chapter 8

Healthy-holiday-eats-and-sweet-carnivalThought I would mention this chapter of the book as well, as it fits in so well with what’s been happening here at Keeper of the Home this week! In this chapter, Sondra says “Many of our fondest memories sweep over us when we catch a scent reminiscent of mother’s hot apple pie, or Aunt Lizzie’s rich fruit cakes. Christmas is a time to celebrate God’s goodness, and His blessing of delicious foods certainly should be enjoyed by all.” I definitely agree!

This week I hosted the Healthy Holiday Eats and Sweets Carnival, which is just brimming with not only scrumptious but healthy and nourishing recipes as well (though I did notice that there were significantly more Sweet recipes than Eats… hmmm, do I detect a few sweet tooths among my readers? :)) Take a look through the wonderful recipes included and see if there are any that you would like to add to your own food traditions (and yes, you may still comment with new recipes for me to add to the carnival!).

Celebrate with Joy can still be purchased for the remainder of the month (or until supplies run out):

celebrate-with-joy-coverCelebrate with Joy is a 192-page spiral bound book that includes:

  • Advent… With Your Family- wonderful resources for using the season of Advent to prepare your hearts for celebrating Christ’s birth
  • Symbols of the Season- their meanings, how to use them
  • A look at Christmas traditions- their value, ones worth keeping, how we can plan to establish unique family traditions
  • Gala Gatherings- meaningful Christmas parties and get-togethers, including ideas for evangelism as well
  • Grateful Giving and Gifts From the Heart
  • The Twelve Nights of Christmas- celebrating from December 25-January 6 (a lesser known Christian holiday called Epiphany)
  • More Than Just Recipes
    Celebrate with Joy: Week 2

Celebrate with Joy can be purchased for only $24.95 US including shipping. Books can be purchased through my site only, and will be sent directly to you as quickly as we can get them out so that you can still use them for as much of the Christmas season as possible! Supplies are limited, so if you’d like to get one, make sure to place your order quickly.

How do you use symbols and special recipes to accentuate the true meaning of Christmas and add to your holiday traditions?

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  1. I got the main part of the willow tree nativity set at my wedding shower (I got married in early January). We have been collected a new part each year since it is so expensive but I really love it. We don’t always have a tree since we live in small spaces and are normally gone for Christmas so whenever I get that and our advent wreath set up, it really feels like the holidays for me.
    .-= MacKenzie´s last blog .. =-.

  2. My husband and I received the Willow Tree Nativity Set the Christmas before we got married. I LOVE it! In particular, I love that Mary is holding Jesus instead of him just laying in the manger. As I’ve looked over the years, that is really hard to find! I hope you get your own set in the near future! Merry Christmas!

  3. I LOVE the Willow Tree figurines, and I didn’t know they had a nativity! Guess I know what’s going on my Christmas list!!

    And I’m gonna have to ask my husband if we can’t swing getting that book. It’s just what I’ve been looking for in order to bring Christmas back to what it should be!

  4. I just blogged about this, we use ornaments as a special tradition to create family memories and look back at where we’ve been! And we always talk about the tree’s symbolism, how it points to Christ. 🙂 I think it’s good to do those things every year 🙂
    .-= Mrs. Taft´s last blog ..Ornaments =-.

  5. Do you crochet at all? Gourmet Crochet has a crocheted nativity set. You might be able to make it and display it until a Willow Tree Nativity is in the budget. I think it would make a wonderful family heirloom to pass down to the children. It is a bit on the cutesy side but it would be handmade. My great-grandmother made me a crocheted nativity when I was little and I always have regretted that I didn’t know what happened to it. I was thrilled to find the pattern from gourmet crochet.

    As for me, I have the Precious Moments Nativity. My husband and I bought it with our tax return one year shortly after we were married. We got the oddest looks for buying a Nativity set in March!

  6. Family Christian Stores has coupons on the back of their recent catalog–25% off your entire order. Also, shipping is only 99 cents until Christmas. http://www.familychristian.com/ If you lived close, I would happily give you my catalog. Check with family & friends to see if you can locate one.

    Just yesterday I ordered the entire set for my daughter-in-law for Christmas. My in-laws (son’s grandparents) are going in on it too. The 25% discount and cheap shipping really brought the price down, and it will be delivered to my door. So easy! Maybe you could also ask for it for Christmas. I am thrilled to give this to my son and his wife, especially since it is the one she wanted.

    We were given a nativity set (Home Interiors) for our wedding, 25 years ago this coming April. I cherish it because of all the great memories we have had with it. It’s funny, our 3 boys would argue about who would get to set out baby Jesus. One year in the sturggle, Jesus’s arm broke off! Yeah for Superglue. Now, with our youngest at 15, they laugh about how they behaved, and in “fun” argue still. We have used a Jesse Tree all these years. It is one I made out of felt….great memories. I have a set in my cedar chest for each one of the boys for when they marry and have children. In writing this I realize I have not given one to our oldest son, and he has been married a year now! I appreciate your blog so very much. It is so encouraging to read of young women living simple, godly lives, serving their families with all their heart. God bless you!

  7. I also love the Willow Tree nativity, but it is pretty spendy. Right now we have a cheap ceramic Target one that looks like every other nativity out there, but I do enjoy having one. I also just got a Fisher Price nativity for the kids to play with.
    That wreath would be supper easy for you to make! I used to make wreaths that were basically Christmas bulbs wired onto an evergreen wreath frame just like the one you pictured. I gave many away as gifts and still love the one I kept. All you do is wrap craft wire around the hanger loop of the ornament and then wire it tightly to the frame of the wreath, being careful not to pop the bulb off the hanger. I sometimes would hot glue the bulb to its hanger loop if they kept popping off. They are super cheap to make if you buy all the supplies during after-Christmas sales. I love how using red bulbs looks like holly berries!

  8. I agree with you! The Christmas season is such a wonderful time to celebrate the first coming of our Saviour…but also to remember the REAL reason why HE came! To save people from their sins…such rich truths to teach our children. Thank you for this thoughtful post.

    .-= Camille´s last blog ..Gift in a Jar =-.

  9. Thanks for the garland idea~I looked it up on Homespun (and found a new great blog too) and I think we’ll make it! Awesome!

  10. My sister has that nativity set and it is beautiful!! Thank you SOOO much for linking to my wreath, Stephanie! I really, really appreciate it!! Happy Holidays, sweet friend!!

  11. Be it Lenten or Christmas season, they all remind us of the love of Christ. Let’s commemorate it accordingly and happily.

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