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A Sweet December

December is a great time to include a special seasonal sweet in the lunchbox. Many of us do a little extra baking for the holidays and can include cookies baked from old family recipes. Others of us do not have big baking traditions and must rely on others to help supply our family sweets. You can start a new lunchbox tradition to be handed down through generations—The Decadent December Lunchbox!

Chocolate dipped cookies. Purchase your child’s favorite ready-made cookies. Melt white or dark chocolate candy coating according to package directions. Dip cookies into the chocolate about two thirds of the way up the cookie. Hold for a moment and let excess drip back into the pot. Place on waxed paper to set. Pretzels also work well for this. If you are energetic, you can make your own cookies to dip. But if time is a factor, store bought cookies work well.

Marshmallow snowmen. Attach two large marshmallows together with a pretzel stick. Attach a smaller marshmallow on top for the head. Use a toothpick dipped in food color to make a face and buttons. Use additional pretzels for arms and legs. Be creative and add a hat made from gumdrops or licorice. Colored icing could also be used to decorate your snowman but that increases your preparation time as well as your clean up time!

Christmas snack cakes. Rather than the usual oatmeal pies or peanut butter filled cookies, purchase a box of festive snack cakes for the holidays. They come in white and dark chocolate as well as tree, wreath, and other shapes.

Reindeer candy canes.
In just a few minutes a candy cane can be transformed into a smiling Rudolph. With a small red pompom for his nose, two pieces of something black for his eyes, some pipe cleaner antlers, Rudolph the red-nosed candy cane is sure to please your child.

 
CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS

Christmas in the Lunchbox

By Linda J. Gilden

CBN.comDecember Notes

Before first report cards of the year are issued, commercial establishments begin to display lighted trees, greenery, Santa Claus, and tinsel. Some people feel the need to skip straight from summer to Christmas to stay ahead of the stores. You find yourself competing with the glitz of retailers as you try to help your children focus on what is really important during the month of December. I suppose if we were to take a survey of all the children in one class at school, we would receive varied answers about what Christmas really is—Jesus’ birthday, Santa Claus, presents, trees, lights, and the list would probably go on. But whatever the answer, a child’s response to that question will certainly come from the way his or her family celebrates the holidays.

Many families gather around the table each week to celebrate Advent, anticipating the coming of the birth of the Savior. But whether or not your family practices that tradition, many more opportunities exist to help our children prepare their hearts to worship the babe in the manger. We can even use the lunchbox to help our children prepare for a worshipful Christmas season. If you are short on time and your creativity is already maxed out for the season, try using a few of the ideas in this section to make your child’s holiday lunchbox more festive.


Deck the Lunchbox
Many stickers, whistles, pencils, candy, and other novelties are available during the month of December. Look for quick ways to decorate your notes, stickers to stick on sandwich bags, and novelties to direct your child’s attention to the true meaning of the season.

Buy a pack of Christmas napkins to include each day. Better yet, look in the drawer for leftover napkins from last year’s parties. Most likely you will never have another occasion to use them. Use them to color your child’s day.

Sandwich bag companies have also gotten into the Christmas spirit and you can now buy sandwich bags with preprinted holiday motifs. Keep a box on hand and you will not have to do anything additional to the lunch to give it a festive feel.

Attach a “countdown to the holidays” calendar to the top of the lunchbox. That will help your child realize that progress is being made toward the days of vacation. Some local newspapers have a “Countdown ‘til Christmas” box. You could simply cut that out each morning and tape it to the inside top of the box. Or create your own countdown calendar inside the lid. Include a small calendar where your child can mark off the days with a pencil. Or create the calendar with individual squares of paper for each day and he can remove the day’s block as it passes.

If you want to create a lunchbox surprise that the whole lunch bunch will be talking about, decorate the inside of the lunchbox for the holidays. A little leftover garland from a home project and a few red bows will make the lunch festive and bring a smile to your child’s face. Don’t go over board. Just a little greenery (artificial, of course) around the perimeter of the box will work. Or twist greenery or a green pipe cleaner into a small circle, add a bow and you will have a “wreath” to secure to the inside of the box!

A Lunchbox Kid says . . .
One Christmas all I asked for was my own phone. When I told my mom what I wanted she didn’t say much so I wasn’t even sure if she heard me. It didn’t look good for getting my wish! In my lunchbox one day I got a note from Mom. It said:

Have a great day. Won’t be long ‘til Christmas.
Love, Mom
PS Hint 2354

I didn’t know what that meant. But when I got home from school that day, I went to my room and put my backpack on the bed. All of a sudden I heard a phone ring . . . somewhere in my room.
I searched and finally found a brand new phone under the dresser. And the number was 555-2354!

—Jamie, age 18

Weekly Christmas Notes

For your lunchbox notes, you may choose a plan that includes focusing on a certain theme each week. That is also a meaningful way to celebrate and help your child stay focused on the real meaning of the season.

Week One
Monday Note: This is a really busy time of the year, isn’t it? Don’t you love all the bright lights? When you see all the lights, remember Jesus is the light of the world. Do you have a friend at school who needs to know about the light of the world?

Tuesday Note: Thanks for helping me put the wreath on the door. It really looks pretty! When we look at our beautiful wreath, a circle of green, let’s remember that God’s love is never ending.

Wednesday Note: The candles in the windows really shine at night. With one in every window, they light up the whole house. When we see candles, remember that your light, no matter how small, can make a difference.

Thursday Note: The picture you drew of a Christmas tree looked just like our tree. I’m going to hang it on the refrigerator. Every time you look at our tree, remember that Jesus loves you so much He died for you. He hung on a cross made out of a tree.

Friday Note: Someone put a very interesting present under the tree when I wasn’t looking. Was that you? When you look under our tree and you see all the presents, think about Jesus. He was God’s gift to us. He gave Jesus to us because He loved us so much.

* Week Three
This focus of this week’s notes will be the manger and the figures visiting the baby Jesus. The weekend before you begin this series would be a good time to get the manger scene out of the box and have a special family time of putting it together.

Monday Note: You did such a good job of placing the stable on the piano last night. Do you ever wonder how the innkeeper must have felt when he got the place ready for baby Jesus to be born? Do you think he knew what he was doing was really important?

Tuesday Note: Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus are the center of attention in our nativity scene. That’s the way it should be. We should all keep our eyes on Jesus, not just at Christmas but all the time.

Wednesday Note: The shepherds traveled a long way to see Jesus, didn’t they? You know which one is my favorite shepherd? The one who is holding his head. I think he has a headache. Wonder why?

Thursday Note: The angel on the top of our nativity scene looks like she is really watching over everyone, doesn’t she? That was her assignment from God. I believe God’s angels watch over us every day.

Friday Note: When you get home today, look at all the figures in the nativity scene. They are all coming to see Jesus. Most of them traveled a long way to get to see Him. Aren’t we glad Jesus is always right here with us and we don’t have to travel and look for Him?

Just because school gets out for vacation, you don’t have to stop writing notes. Continue with daily reminders left on the counter when you go to work or on your child’s pillow at night. You will be spending more time together during the holidays and can verbally remind her how special this season is. However, when you talk, try to help your child remember that Jesus’ love is not just for a season. It is for all year long!

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! 2 Corinthians 9:15

Advent Focus

If you don’t have an advent wreath for your home, you may want to start a new tradition this year and add an advent wreath to your holiday decor. An advent wreath in the center of your dining table and the appropriately lit candles will reinforce the tidbits of the advent celebration you are able to include in your child’s lunchbox. Frequent mention of the true meaning of the season and strategically placed visual reminders will keep your child’s thoughts on Jesus and the miracle of His birth.

You may want to designate Monday of each week as your advent focus. Each December Monday begin your note with “This week we will celebrate . . .

First Week of Advent (This may start in the latter days of November depending on year’s calendar.)
This is the week we will celebrate the prophecy of Jesus’ coming.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6-7.

Lunchbox Note: December is a very special month. We are going to have lots of fun as a family. Most of all, let’s keep thinking about the real meaning of Christmas. We will celebrate Jesus all month!

Second Week of Advent
This is the week we will celebrate Mary and Joseph.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. Luke 2:4-5

Lunchbox Note:Joseph and Mary were obedient to the awesome job God gave them to do. When you think something is too hard for you, remember how hard it must have been for them. God was faithful to take care of them. He will take care of you, too.

Third Week of Advent
This is the week we will celebrate the shepherds.

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” Luke 2:15

Lunchbox Note: The shepherds couldn’t wait to see Jesus. Let’s look forward to celebrating His birth together.

Fourth Week of Advent
This is the week we will celebrate the Kings.

They went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. Matthew 2: 9–11

Lunchbox Note: (Because of the calendar, some years this note may have to be left on the pillow at night!) The kings, or wise men as they are often called, brought precious gifts to Jesus. What could you give Jesus this year for His birthday?

Christmas Eve
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. Luke 2:16

There will be no lunchbox on this day. Just lots of celebrating with family and friends with Jesus as the Honored Guest.

Please note the suggested focus for each week is only that, a suggestion. Many families have come up with their own traditional focuses for each week. Some advent wreath instructions suggest that the theme for each week focus on an aspect of worship. A common plan for this is:

Week One—Hope
Week Two—Love
Week Three—Joy
Week Four—Peace
Optional Center Candle of the Advent Wreath represents Jesus and is to be lighted on Christmas Eve.


Excerpted from Chapter 3 of Love Notes in Lunchboxes: And Other Ideas to Color Your Child's Day by Linda J. Gilden (Birmingham: New Hope Publishers, 2004). Used by permission. * Some portions of text were omitted from this excerpt.

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