the present family : happy birthday

Today, I’m excited to share more of our Present Family series! Our dear friend Shaunna from Perfectly Imperfect will be sharing her post tomorrow, so be sure to click on over for some of her fabulous family ideas! But without further ado…

It all started a few weeks ago. We had the snots, and it was a Sunday morning. Jamin went in to work, and I decided to have my own little Bible class with the kids. You may find this hard to believe, but I’m kind of the when teaching my kids about the Bible. I do voices. And may have been known to substitute five loaves and two fish, with an all you can eat Sour Patch Kid buffet object lesson. I think you get the point. We like to have fun.

Jamin and I really want to instill in our children why we celebrate Christmas. I know lots of people view Christmas in different ways. We still love the tradition of Santa, but we really don’t want one of the most important moments in our faith, to be lost in the hubub and insanity of material gifts. We love the excitement, but we want them to grow with a sense of thankfulness, and understand the point of it all. It’s all about finding what works for us as a family, and striking that balance with our children. So we’re working on that with the small things. I guess it’s the dorky artist in me, but I’ve really even tried to be intentional with our decor this year, so that we can use them as visuals to discuss His birth.

Obligatory prefaces aside, cue me, talking about Jesus’ birth on this fine, snot filled, stay at home church Sunday. Except this time, they weren’t really paying attention to my special voices, they weren’t interested in my legos reinactment of the manger scene, and I think they were kind of ticked that this time around, there was no Sour Patch Kid buffet to be had.

I was trying to make it simple for them to grasp. That there was no room for Jesus, and that he was literally born with animals. That today, we have doctors and clean hospitals for sweet babies, but Mary had Jesus in a dirty manger. Emerson, who is currently obsessed with all things babies, their origins and actually wants a baby for Christmas {Sorry, Kid.} piped up with a very specific question about how the baby actually came out of Mary’s tummy. I skillfully diverted that little technicality with the stealth of a ninja …

And kept going with the story, until I came to the part about an angry King Herod, hearing about the birth of the Savior. We all know how the story goes, but because of his fear + jealousy, he ordered all the baby boys killed. When I looked up from the book I was using, Aiden, (also known as my sensitive one-he gets it honestly) who’d been half ignoring me and my lame lego replays, was paralyzed with terror.

Cue epic parental fail compounded with a barrage of fired questions: Aiden, 6, who is now old enough to ask the tough ones: Why? How? When? Did all of them die? And honestly, I found myself in this unexpectedly delicate moment, trying to explain something that’s kind of hard to explain to a child who is only just now realizing that bad things can happen in this world. It was like resisting the urge to cushion his fall. And then he burst into tears. Cue guilt. I explained that sometimes bad things happen…that the mommies and the daddies and big siblings tried to protect the babies, and we can only hope that some of them survived. We turned it into a game where we protected Malone and hid in the closet from the bad guards who were searching. I think we all learned something that day.

My kids ask tough questions. Sometimes I really stink at this. And this is only the beginning. Cue panic.

So, yesterday, I took a simpler approach. We decorated.

Because sometimes, it’s in the little things. It started out with these little fanned ornaments I’ve been meaning to make. They’re simple, and if you can fold, staple, and tape, you’ve got yourself a fun little project to do with your kids.

1. Cut two strips of paper in equal size. 2. Accordion fold both. 3. Place both peices together on the table, face up. Push them in, and turn them on their side to staple them in the middle. 4. Fan them back out, and secure their sides by taping them. Double sided tape works like a gem, and scrap book paper is super fun, as are music sheets, and pictures decorated by your little ones.

These doodads make a great ornament, gift topper, place setting…earrings…but today, they were the star shining over Bethlehem. And a great teaching moment for my kids, who each got to pick a color, make their own star and then help me hang it.

They needed a little help with their folds…and eventually it turned into this…

But when we were finished, we took some clothespins, twine, and joined them all on a garland. A birthday garland.

A small celebration in our household, of His birth.

{And I liked the idea so much, I’m pretty sure I’ll be using it in the future for birthday partay decor. Just sayin.}

Object lesson…achieved. Even if when I did ask the kids where Jesus was born, Emerson responded oh so proudly with “On the FARM!”

Close enough, padawan. Close enough.

Here’s to spending time appreciating the important things, and celebrating them in small ways with your children!

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Responses to the present family : happy birthday

  1. mmm yummy colors – what a fun little craft that I’m going to do with my kiddos too! thanks for sharing!

  2. Shaunna says:

    well, perfect, of course. love this one.

  3. hi-d says:

    Awe…such a sweet post. I may have to make some of these fun little fans. What a simple but great idea!!! Love that you teach your kiddos about Jesus…even though this was a not so pleasant story about Herod.

    Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

  4. Megan Brooke says:

    I love that you are intentional with your decor. And what a cute craft idea to do with the kiddos! Hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas!

  5. MaryE says:


  6. Rebekah says:

    I am relatively new to your blog, but love your ease, style and functionality in your decorating. I also love the way you are incorporating your faith in your Christmas decorating….I am trying to do the same in my house. With young ones (3 and 1), they don’t get it all this year, but hopefully they will understand a little bit more each year. My 3 year old calls the nativity scene “Bethlehem” so that is enough for me…for this year. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  7. thanks sweet ladies. merry christmas to you and your wonderful families! ;}

  8. jenni Horne says:

    Nice save momma bear. And yes, instilling in our children why we celebrate on this day can be confusing to their little hearts. That darn red suited man has elves, an entire nothern hemisphere, reindeer and a sled!! A tiny baby in a manager is not as glamorous. But starting traditions with your children now will only make their hearts stronger.

  9. Oh, Ashley, this post makes me happy. I just love how you’re incorporating Jesus’ birth into ALL of your Christmas celebrations. It’s a difficult blance to strike, isn’t it? It is always encouraging to hear about others installing the real point of Christmas into their kids, just like we’re trying to do. I arranged my daughter’s advent calendar around our nativity scene so that each time she gets some candy, she has to look right at the center of the whole season. I love your birthday garland! I think we’ll be adding one to our repertoire for next year! Thanks :)

  10. Alison Logue says:

    This post made me LOL literally (how often do we say LOL but don’t really mean it? This time, I mean it!)….it made me laugh so hard, I forced my dear husband read it, who also LOLed literally. In fact, he has officially stolen your phrase “the bomb dot com slash awesomeness.” I love that you focused your decor on the real reason for the season. :)

  11. Audra says:

    Loved this post! Thanks for sharing! As a fellow Bible teaching mama, I have been in the same boat:-)

  12. This garland is so cute! Stopping by from The Cottage Market today.