Thursday, December 20, 2012

Enjoy Christmas Lights With the Kids for Free!

Enjoy Christmas Decorations With Kids © Katrena
Tight budgets often call for less spending, but my kids and I have discovered that going to stores during the Christmas season can be a wonderful way to enjoy festive lights and decorations for free. This simple time together can also serve many other purposes.

How to Have Fun Christmas Shopping with Kids © Katrena
Many stores elaborately decorate their showrooms with holiday cheer, and "window shopping" is typically free. Before going in the store, you might want to mention any specific expectations you have. For instance, if you are planning to make a purchase, mention the limits of what you are going to buy before entering or that you expect them to stay together where you can see everyone if you have more than one child.

Turn Shopping into an Educational Experience © Katrena
The Christmas decorations are often prominently displayed, and many of them now have animations or music. Plan for plenty of time to simply enjoy the moment. For any of you who want to sneak a little education in there, you could easily encourage the kids to count the reindeer, name the colors of the penguins, or to tell you everything they know about icons like Snoopy or even Elvis. Older kids might want to talk about robotics, or you might challenge them to determine how much an item might cost if it were 50% off or to determine how many of a particular item one could purchase with a set amount of money.

Learn about the Symbols of the Season While Christmas Shopping © Katrena
Christmas often brings bright and colorful plants such as poinsettias, roses, and trees. You can easily be a sneaky teacher here by identifying colors, counting, or even talking about how Christmas lights will now remain lighted if one bulb goes out (thank goodness!). This can also be a golden opportunity to reminisce about traditions you might have had related to the holiday. We had some wonderful friends when I was a little girl who owned some wooded land, and they would let us come over each year and cut down a cedar tree for Christmas. What a special gift to our family...and a story I wanted to share with my own children!

Enjoy the Beauty of the Christmas Season with Children © Katrena
Christmas is a Christian holiday, so this can be a great time to talk about Jesus and the biblical accounts of His birth. Nativity scenes and Advent calendars can encourage kids to learn more about the Bible and one's own beliefs related to Christmas.

Free Christmas Festivities for the Family © Katrena
If you decide to shop after dark, an added bonus might be seeing lighted Christmas decorations in some yards beside the road as you drive back home. Turn on some Christmas music and have a sing-a-long in the car. You really don't have to buy anything to enjoy the lights of the season, but if you have shopping to do, this can be a great way to add a fun tradition that perhaps the whole family will cherish!

Christmas Fun for Free © Katrena
Many thanks to Lowe's Home Improvement of Mocksville, North Carolina. They allowed me to take pictures of my kids enjoying their wide array of Christmas decorations to share with all of my readers. They also offer some fun, free workshops for the kids called Build and Grow. I'd recommend signing up for these workshops ahead of time because space and supplies might be limited during popular months in particular.

Teach Kids Math and Other Life Skills at the Store © Katrena
Readers might also be interested in reading about McAdenville, a town near Charlotte that lights up their trees for Christmas in North Carolina or about The Cookie House bakery in Hanes Mall where you can watch holiday cookies being made and decorated. Find more of Katrena's articles at the Wildflower Bouquets site map.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Day Our Nation Cried – Musical Tribute to Sandy Hook

The Day Our Nation Cried Lyrics
The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting has hit home with so many of us on multiple levels. I wrote this song in the hope that perhaps the words might bring comfort to those who mourn. This song is dedicated in memory of those who died and in honor of those who survived. May God bless each of you as you search for strength beyond understanding.

The Day Our Nation Cried
(to the tune "American Pie")

The December day dawned bright and clear,
No one knew what pain lay near;
Seemed just like an ordinary day.
Hugs and kisses, homework packed;
I love you...I love you back,
Never guessing these might be the last.

But shots rang out and people cried,
Doors were locked and many died;
Arms and love surrounding,
Unlikely heroes abounding.

Calls for help, responders raced,
Sirens wailed and horrors faced;
No one really knowing what to think
The day our nation cried.

We want to ask...
Why, why did they have to die?
Should our teachers carry weapons?
What have we not tried?
We want to protect them and hold them tight.
The day our nation cried.

Survivors walked outside that day,
Unsure of what to do or say,
Seeking peace beyond the morn.
People showed their human side,
Tears fell down, arms opened wide;
Yearn for hope beyond amazing grief.

Life forever changed that day,
A tragedy in every way.
Will it make us bitter?
Or can it make us better?

It's so hard to look ahead,
Reaching out as the Spirit led;
Charging those left shaken
To honor each life taken.

Why, why did they have to die?
Should our teachers carry weapons?
What have we not tried?
We want to protect them and hold them tight.
The day our nation cried.
The day our nation cried.