Archives: Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway? #18
Igniting Simplicity Within Our Hearts
Calendar for Advent and Christmas [cycle B]
Each day offers ideas and suggestions for making this a season of meaning. Instead of letting the season happen to you, use this calendar as a journal to be intentional, inspired, and most of all joyful! As your personal journal, this calendar can help guide you and your family through the Advent-Christmas seasons. Share it with others in your Christmas cards and letters. Offer it to your church and make it a community journey.
To Use as a Booklet
- Remove center four pages from the middle of the Whose Birthday? booklet.
- Add personal or church dates, thoughts, activities.
- Photocopy on recycled paper.
- Fold, collate (optional: staple on the crease).
- Send to friends and family, distribute at church.
For more Christmas letter stationery, see Christmas Campaign Kit.
Igniting Simplicity Within Our Hearts
Calendar/Journal for Advent and Christmas [cycle B]
As a family, select a cause or organization to support with money you collect. Choose a percentage early in the season (from 25% to 100%). Then give that amount every time you spend any money for Christmas... in addition to the amount you normally give away. Decorate a can to hold the money. Put it on display. 20 bucks on a tree? Then $ __ goes in the can. This money is not a penalty; rather it serves as a reminder and aid to help others. Donate the money on Epiphany, the day the Magi offered their gifts to Jesus.
Go through the calendar face-to-face or by phone with at least one Advent Partner - a friend, a child or someone you've wanted to get to know better. Children can color the calendar. Add more pages to meet your needs.
At the time of year when we greet the Prince of Peace and remember the promise of "peace on Earth, good will to all," many people are anything but peaceful. Busy shoppers, anxious children, hungry and homeless families, victims of family violence and conflict worldwide, all yearn for the peace the herald angels announce. Through daily thoughts and actions, this calendar helps us begin to experience and share the peace promised by the birth and life of Jesus.
Oct. 1 or Nov. 1 - At a family meeting talk about Christmas expectations. What do each of us really want? Who is going to do what? What is really most meaningful? Are we willing to spend less on ourselves and give more to the needy? Write down and post decisions and changes to consider.
Nov. 24 - Thanksgiving Day (USA): Create a thanksgiving mural, using a large piece of paper, roll end of newsprint or spiral notebook. Each family member or guest gets plenty of space to draw and color blessings. Display and then save each year's creation.
25 - Participate in International Buy Nothing Day on this, the biggest shopping day of the year, by doing no shopping, by writing a letter to the editor promoting sustainability or by focusing on overconsumption with street theatre. Information at 800-663-1243.
26 - Advent Eve.Give Christmas Gift Exemption Vouchers, inviting loved ones to spend time with you instead of money on you... time one-to-one or at a Christmas or Epiphany get-together. Or send Gratitude Cards (from Alternatives) which focus on presence instead of presents.
Nov. 27 - Sunday, Advent 1. Read & meditate on Isaiah 64:1-9; 1 Cor. 1:3-9; &/or Mark 13:24-37. Share the reflection for this day in "Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway?"
28 - "Send a Message! Give Alternatives' audio CDs. Listen to them with your family first. Visit SimpleLivingWorks.org >> ArchivesAV
29 - Be a surprise to someone else while you're waiting. Greet those around you while waiting in line at the grocery store. Share a beverage with someone while waiting for a train. Send a note or make a call of appreciation to a teacher, to a legislator, or to a business that promotes an appropriate understanding of Christmas. Make someone new feel welcome.
30 - Read a book about a person who followed Jesus' example and worked for peace in the community or world, for example, St. Francis of Assisi or Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dec. 1 - Carefully read through your local newspaper today. Count the stories that report unrest in the community or world. Count those that tell of peace or peacemakers. Give 5˘ for each story about peace.
2 - If you are provoked by someone or something today, deliberately lay down the weapons in your heart. Spend a moment with your feelings.
3 - Organize a "peace walk" with your family and friends. Commit to giving 50˘ for every mile you walk. As you walk around a park or neighborhood, talk about the beauty of God's creation.
4 - Sunday, Advent 2. Read & meditate on Isaiah 40:1-11; 2 Peter 3:8-15a; &/or Mark 1:1-8. Share the reflection for this day in "Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway?"
5 - Make creative gifts, such as redeemable chore or hug coupons; a promise that someone else can run the TV remote control or sit in the "good" chair; homemade tickets for a trip someplace special (the zoo, a concert, an art museum, etc.); activity kits such as a counted cross-stitch kit, tackle box filled with lures and hooks, or a tool box with unique tools; subscriptions to magazines; and so on.
6 - St. Nicholas Day. If you need a symbol for giving (in addition to Jesus and the three Magi), learn about St. Nicholas, not the commercialized Santa Claus. Let's tell the real stories of our faith. Visit <StNicholasCenter.org>.
7 - Make Christmas music a creative part of your celebration. Write new lyrics to familiar carols, even if they're funny. Sing about important current issues, like hunger and poverty, like Alternatives' "Carols with Justice." Use instrument made out of household items, such as glasses filled with water, spoons, rubber bands, etc.
8 - Discuss ways you can share the Christmas spirit by anonymous gifts: food, toys, books, furniture, clothing, etc. Consider giving the gift of your time to someone.
9 - Homemade gifts are best, such as a "family trivia game" - a way to remember and celebrate (and newcomers to learn) family lore. Questions can cover relations, activities, statistics, sayings, oddities and places & events. Add new questions every year. Or have a family brainstorming and memorabilia time each season.
10 - Give a Grandparent book to a grandchild. Include information and pictures about your own childhood.
11 - Sunday, Advent 3. Read & meditate on Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11; 1 Thess. 5:16-24; &/or John 1:6-8, 19-28. Share the reflection for this day in "Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway?"
12 - Ask each child to select and wrap a good used toy as a gift given in Jesus' name. Then donate it to a mission or children's home.
13 - Some families set a specific limit on the number of gifts each person - including children - receives. The Christ child was given three gifts by the Magi. If three was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for us!
14 - The Bible contains over 3000 verses relating to the poor. Take ten minutes with your family to find as many Scriptures as you can that talk about caring for others.
15 - Discuss how you can witness the Good News of Jesus' birth, life, death and resurrection to others. A) Through your preparation and decorations this year. B) Practice kindness to those who serve you. C) Create thoughtful homemade gifts and donate the money you would have spent on mass produced ones.
16 - Ask someone who may be lonely to go out with your family to look at decorations and window displays. Talk about which displays best communicate the true meaning of Christmas. Sing authentic Christmas carols as you go from house to house.
17 - Read Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" or watch it on a video or in a live play. Or watch or listen to "The Celebration Revolution of Alexander Scrooge: A Modern Christmas Carol" from Alternatives, then discuss it.
18 - Sunday, Advent 4. Read & meditate on 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16; Romans 16: 25-27; &/or Luke 1:26-38. Share the reflection for this day in "Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway?"
19 - Discuss ways your family can help a lonely person feel better. Do you know anyone far from home this holiday? Someone single or alone for the first time this Christmas? You can invite such a person over for dinner. Is there some special gift of time or talent that you can share with another to brighten the holidays?
20 - Limit the number of gifts to one and make finding it exciting - a treasure hunt. One clue leads to another until they find the gift.
21 - Talk about our responsibility to care for animals. Discuss things you do to take care of any pets you have, without treating them like humans. Can you do something special for the animals outside your home? Make the connection between caring for pets and wild animals and creatures we can't see, such as coral that are vital to life.
22 - Before buying ask, "Could I make something that would be more meaningful to this person? Could I give something of value that I own to this person that would be meaningful and also would reduce my possessions? That would be a gift to both of us!" [continues]
23 - Or ask, "Could I give a donation to the needy in this person's name?" Voluntary Simplicity is more than frugality. It is not "living on the cheap." Doing what's right for God's Creation may cost us more money.
24 - Christmas Eve. Read & meditate on Isaiah 9:2-7; Titus 2:11-14; &/or Luke 2:1-14 (15-20). Share the reflection for this day in "Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway?"
25 - Christmas Day. Read & meditate at dawn on Isaiah 62:6-12; Titus 3:4-7 &/or Luke 2: (1-7) 8-20. Later read & meditate on Isaiah 527-10; Hebrews 1:1-4(5-12); &/or John 1:1-14. Instead of watching TV on Christmas Day, watch home movies and videos and look through family photo albums; tell and read stories aloud to each other. Play "The Christmas Game" from Alternatives.
26 - St. Stephen's Day (Boxing Day). Read Acts 6:8 - 8:2. Consider following the custom of giving boxes filled with gifts to the poor.
27 -If you travel around Christmas time, start planning now a trip for next year in a different cultural milieu. Rather than a ski resort or theme park, rendezvous in a needy area to perform a service project.
28 - Holy Innocents Day. From very early in its history, the church set aside this day to remember the massacre of children in Bethlehem by Herod's jealousy of the new born King of the Jews. Mary, Joseph and Jesus escaped to Egypt. Thousands of others did not. Think of the vulnerability of children today. Consider organizing a letter writing campaign on behalf of hungry children. Volunteer at a local shelter for abused women and children. Pray for children at risk.
29 - How do you feel about war and military intervention? When, if ever, is war "just"? How might world conflicts be handled peacefully? Write down your ideas and send them to a world leader.
30 - The Family at New Year's. New Year's is a time to assess the past, then look ahead and begin again. A family can thank God for times when they have lived up to their own expectations, and dream new dreams when they have not. Planning together, even informally, for the upcoming months adds a new dimension of expectation to days ahead.
31 - New Year's Eve. Listen empathetically to each other and "encourage one another" (Hebrews 10:25). Tell your family that no blaming or judgmental comments are allowed:
"Do not judge, so that you may not be judged" (Matthew 7:1). To do this, appoint someone as gatekeeper, alert to quickly rule any such expressions out of bounds. Spark the discussion by asking:
- What has been the high point of the year for our family?
- What is the best thing our family did together this year? The worst?
- What is the best thing that happened to you personally? The worst?
- What is your biggest disappointment?
- How have you changed?
- Who was the most important person in your life this last year? Why?
- What is one thing you wish you had done differently?
- What are you most thankful for right now?
Encourage gratitude for things everyone tends to take for granted, such as music, eyesight, hearing, or Christmas trees and cranberries, or eggs and toast for breakfast.
At midnight, bring in the New Year by holding hands and saying the Lord's Prayer aloud.
Jan. 1. Sunday - Christmas 1 (Holy Family Sunday) Read & meditate on Isaiah 61:10-62:3; Galatians 4:4-7; &/or Luke 2:22-40. Share the reflection for this day in "Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway?"
January 1 - New Year's Day. Maybe an adult or teenager can be enlisted to begin a family diary to record small and large happenings, celebrations, personal thoughts, opinions overheard, and changes around home during the coming year. Then read the accounts when the family gathers next New Year's. The writing will likely stir a good time of conversation, when almost-forgotten events are relived.
2 - New Years Resolution: Give a "clutter tithe" -- pledge to give away 10% of your stuff... and not replace it.
3 - Read Micah 4:3-5. Draw a bomb and on it write one thing that keeps our world from knowing peace. Draw a gun or rifle; on it write one fear that keeps you from knowing peace. How can you work for both world and inner peace?
4 - How can you live more in peace with creation? On separate pieces of paper, list ways you can "refuse" purchasing certain items; ways you can "reuse" or "recycle" items; and ways you can "renew" the damaged environment.
5 - We're on journey with God. Greed is not a part of God's itinerary. In retrospect, in what ways does the commercialization of Christmas impose greed in our lives and tempt us to try to change God's itinerary?
6 - Epiphany. Read & meditate on Isaiah 60:1-6; Ephesians 3:1-12; &/or Matthew 2:1-12. Share the reflection for this day in "Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway?" Offer the money you have been saving to the cause of your choice.
6 - The magi shared treasures with baby Jesus. How can we share our treasures - time, money, skills - with those around us? Give the money in your "giving can" to the organization you chose to support.
*If you don't already have a copy of this year's "Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway?" read it at SimpleLivingWorks.org >> Archives >> Whose Birthday?
The bulk of Alternatives' past resources, including 40-day guides, are available
on CD-ROM "Simply the Best: Over 30 Years of Alternatives." Also
SimpleLivingWorks.org >> Archives
Other Advent-Christmas calendars:
For a list of other valuable web sites, visit SimpleLivingWorks.org >> Archives >> Lent Calendar 2003 and SimpleLivingWorks.org >> About Us >> Links
İCreative Commons (originally 2005 Alternatives for Simple Living)
Make as many copies as you choose on a not-for-profit basis.
This Advent/Christmas calendar - based on liturgical Cycle B - is appropriate as bulletin inserts and in Spanish in Adviento 2005.
Download the text in English at SimpleLivingWorks.org >> Archives >> Advent/Christmas Calendar 2005
or in Spanish SimpleLivingWorks.org >> Archives >> Spanish >> Adviento2005
Printed on recycled paper.
Page updated 11 Sept. 2013
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