The true story of Christmas

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I will never cease to be amazed by the ability of the Bible to speak to, in millions of different levels, in hundreds of different languages and being able to answer the same questions that men have been asking themselves from the dawn of time.

Over the years, our children have had access to some versions of the Bible, written exclusively for children.
I often read them aloud to my kids and, depending on their age, I tried to introduce them to the knowledge of this book, “The Book of Books,” as I call it with them, the lens to watch world through.

In my childhood, spent in a Christian school managed by nuns, I was strongly influenced by a dark and completely incoherent religious atmosphere . This has highly determined the impact of my future relationship with spirituality. I do not want this to happen to my children.
What I wish for them is the living value of joyful and absolutely positive attitude that lays in Christian precepts.

Unlike what many people think, and unlike many people have forced to think about, the Bible contains many references to Joy . Reading the stories of the Gospel, everyone can’t avoid to notice how much Jesus was a man of great charisma and character, and certainly joyful man. I do not think many people would had followed him and he would not certainly had been invited to so many parties (remember, as instance, the wedding of Cana ?) if He had been one of those curmudgeons who do nothing but remembering people how earthly life is boredom and full of suffering … (has anyone ever invited Leopardi to any party?). I don’t think so.

I always thought that Jesus was a man of great humor , a sense of humor, of course, strictly related to His times, but perfectly in line with that Jewish culture he belonged to. With its simple and straight behaviors, He showed others as the living testimony of hope that we all need to put in life : the hope of consolation, not only the hope of a life after death, but in life on earth, in our daily experience of relationships with others, of the ups and downs, of “good days” and “bad days”.

The actual history of Christmas, is not simply the story of the birth of a baby in a manger, but the story of the birth of hope for mankind.
On that cold, cold, dark, first Christmas long ago, God has given to men without hope and comfort, the gift of eternal faith in the form of a small child, which would change the world. And this miracle, this gift of hope and joy, takes place every year from that time until today.

Sure, God has not given us the assurance that everything would have been smoothly for us and we would have been having only positive experiences (and the Bible and the Gospel are actually filled with notable examples in this regard!). But it is precisely in those experiences of suffering and in the middle of all our troubles, that God is present and comforts us. Living with joy is in fact a choice that belongs to us, not to God the hope of being heard and understood, however, is our greatest security.

In this context this year we decided to celebrate ” the birthday of Jesus ” with a special project, the e-book Truth in the Tinsel. An Advent Experience for Little Hands by Amanda White . This is an e-book in which children can make their own history of Christmas and the birth of Jesus, by listening to the stories of Christmas and through creative projects, in the course of 24 days. For every day, from December 1st to 24th, there are instructions to create ornaments, decorations and creative jobs, in line with the story of the day, and through some thoughts, you are allowed to meditate twith your children effectively on the main aspects of the history .

The book is written in plain English, but ,for those who do not know English well, I assure you that is not a big problem: in fact, the extracts can be easily found on your own Bible and the Gospel in your own language. And the instructions are absolutely simple to understand even for those who do not chew English well. If you run into any problems or difficulties, I will be happy to help you, through my email .

In the book is also included a list of what tools are needed during the month (and they are mostly everyday objects and recycled materials) and also a detailed list divided by day and by project. The beauty of these creative works is that they can be customized as you wish, depending on what you have available.
And you are not forced to do them all! You know, Christmas season is busy, and in fact we do not believe we will manage all 24 projects, but we will try to be consistent in reading the passages, in order to fully immerse ourselves in this Christmas atmosphere. However, we will be engaged, no more than a quarter of an hour a day, maybe at bedtime.

If you click” Like” on the you will see the photos updated versions of our projects, so if you want, share your photos and comments of projects or the ideas that maybe your kids have expressed during the day.
In addition,on the Facebook page of Truth in The Tinsel , you, can join several group of families, all over the world that are participating in the project and

Are you ready to celebrate Christmas with your children in this special way? We look forward to begin!

** I really believe in this project, and since I find Truth in the Tinsel in line with the idea and the spirit of vitadimamma, I decided to become an affiliate, so if you decide to buy the e-book, after clicking link found in the sidebar next door, I will receive a percentage from the sale. Thanks in advance. **

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DIY Advent Calendar

Nothing makes more Christmas season than the Advent calendar!

And there’s no real and true Advent calendar if there isn’t an everyday surprise and a chocolate gift!
Actually, we have never been so much interested in the ready-made ones, we highly prefer the DIY ones.
That’s why, since my children were just babies, we made our own versions of it.

This is our newest.
If you wonder how to to make it, here’s a tutorial.
Let’s go sewing!

Materials:

– about 10 m red ribbon
-about 3 m rick rack
– red thread
– about 110-120 cm of fabric (exceeded measure)
– Your own choice of colored felt numbers from 1 to 25, or some scraps of felt, to make your own appliqued numbers
Or, if you prefer painting to sewing, glittered fabric paint crayons.
– about 2m of thick twine
– 25 funny clothes pin

Step 1

Cut 10×20 cm 25 fabric pieces (fist make 5 20×10 cm strips, then cut every strip in 10 20×10 cm rectangles)


Step 2

On the piece of felt scrap, trace numbers silhouettes on the felt scrap. Or, just paint the numbers on half of the rectangles with the glittered crayons.


Step 3

Sew the rick-rack on the upper and shorter side of every rectangle. You can use chain sewing technique, to save time.

Step 4

About 12 cm from the top of the fabric, begin sewing the applique on the right side of half the rectangles, with a decorative stitch and a contrasting thread (I used red thread)

Step 5

Cut out 25 strips of ribbon (15 cm long)

Step 6

Pair all the rectangles right side together.
Insert one strip of ribbon in every longer side of paired rectangles, at about 4 cm from the top of the fabric, raw sides together, making sure the strip is parallel to the upper side of the fabric.

Step 7

Sew 3 sides of the paired rectangles, starting from one longer side, with 1 cm seam allowance, Make sure you won’t catch the rest of the ribbon in the sewing.

Step 8

Flatten both sides of the sachet, finger pressing the triangle you have made and sew a stitch at 7 mm from the top of the triangle, back-stitching at the beginning and at the end. Cut the upper side of the triangle at about 5 mm from sewing. Turn the sachet to the right side.


Step 9

Only for even numbered sachets, sew the handle: attach a strip of red ribbon on both sides of the upper edge of the sachet.

Step 10

Stuff the sachets with lovely cards, poetries, stickers, chocolate gifts, candies or other swets of your choices. Hang up the thick twine in place and pin up the sachet with the decorative clothes pins.

Practicing gratitude

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As every year, on the fourth Thursday of November, in a huge part of Western culture, and mostly in the United States of America, people celebrated Thanksgiving.
Although I don’t belong to the American culture, so different from mine, I have been feeling very close to that ceremony and to the profound meaning it has for millions of people around the world.
So, since last year, I have been inspired by Thanksgiving for reflecting on some particular cues of our family life and of the way we choose to live it.

What I mostly appreciate about Thanksgiving, is the mindful celebration of the abundance we have been conceded by, everyday and of the several blessings we can count, especially the ones coming from remarkable human relationships.
Thanksgiving , isn’t just about a dinner, an yearly get-together around the family table, laid with all kind of delicious foods. Actually, Thanksgiving is a way of living.

Indeed, pursuing Gratitude, is not a gift, or something related to a particular good nature behavior. But it’s a skill, everyone of us can practice, train and cultivate, everyday.
I really want my children to master it. In fact, it’s been said it is one of the most important aspects for building up happy lives.

I think there is no better moment than the Holiday season to help my children focusing on spiritual aspects. This path allows them to take the right distance form what can be called the abundance syndrome, that particular state of mind where the more you own, the more you want to get. Also, taking advantage of spiritual practices, helps children taking out pressure from media saturation, that, particularly during the Holiday season, wants to induct children in the need of owing useless and expensive items.

Last year, we made a small project about Gratitude. Every evening, right after dinner, everyone of us wrote a note on a card about the most significant thing to have been grateful of during the day and put it in a bowl placed on the family table. On Christmas morning, we read aloud together all the cards and thought about the huge amount of blessings we could count of, just in a month.
It was a simple and fun way to help children mastering the practice of gratitude. What I have noticed so far, is the fact children progressively and only led by their own instinct, expressed more gratitude towards get-togethers, emotional expectations or human relationships, than towards material items.

Additionally, it moved me so much looking at them as they showed up thankfulness to aspects they before used to perceive entitled, such food on the table, daily hot showers, dinners at family table, or a great afternoon spent at granny’s, just for noticing few.

Psychologists refer to this aspect as Economy of Gratitude, highlighting the skill of gratitude helps children and adults to feel happier and also stocks up such a huge added value as becoming an economy of proficts, where human energies are the main result.

This year, we have been thinking about some gratitude projects, as well.
One, is more directly related to preparing our hearts to Holy Christmas. But I will tell you about it, very soon.
The other is more about my own personal path through faith.

However, even if you are not Christian, you can perceive great value from practicing gratitude through several projects that involves you as a family and help it growing.

For instance, as parents, considering the fact our older children are now 6 and 8, we have been gradually involving them on focusing on aspects of our everyday life related to suffering: as children living in scarcity or orphans, children who are born in war lands, little babies in hospitals and so on, trying to answer the better we can to their specific questions about them.

These issues must be taken straightly, only if they are paired with mindfulness about our own privileged state of living.
Letting children mindfully practicing altruism, compassion and empathy in alleviating others’ sufferings, not only helps people in need, but also allows children to find a peaceful place in their soul, knowing every little crumb can comfort and lift someone who suffers.
And, what’s more, it helps children to face several inadequacies and injustices of our world, letting them mindful about the fact they can really make the difference, even if they are only 6 and 8 years old, and being part of a human movement of compassion and fraternity.

As a family we are slowly approaching to enjoy the Christmas season. Trying to savour every moment together and hoping to transform the waiting in a mindful path towards the Birth.
Do you want to join us?

Here is, just for cheering on you, a wonderful video about the inner meaning of Gratitude.

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