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Making the Most of the Holidays with Your Children

There are some days of the year that touch our senses so deeply we can almost touch them, even years later.

Thanksgiving is one of those days for me, time and again.  I've always held November to be orange in my heart, maybe with a bit of brown and mossy green tossed in. Anytime I spot those hues I think of the Autumn. Pumpkin and cinnamon and chocolate fudge bring me to my grandmother's hearth, and I can hear the conversations, remember the feeling of Thanksgiving together, of holding her hand by the fire, even in July....even years later. I think God designed us this way, and as we take in sights and smells and tastes and the clasped hands of our loved ones near by, our hearts are opened to Him and to His great beauty and love for us in a deeply personal way.

When I became a mom, the tasks and work that came along with making holiday preparations for my family overwhelmed me. I was undone by the baking, the dishes and the expectations of being perfect. But when I thought about how I was giving my own babes the foundation that would bring memories years later, making grooves upon their hearts, weaving the sights and sounds and smells of home into their hearts for eternity, it gave great purpose to the tasks that lay before me. I was buoyed when I realized I have the privilege of opening their hearts to the fingerprints of God upon their life, and that He would meet me in finding ways to share Him with my children.

So our home has become one that engages the senses. We light candles, bake fragrant pies and bread, trim turkeys and eat until we want to burst. But we also touch and wrestle and read and share and snuggle under blankets and talk about art and thoughts and ideas that grow and expand who we are as God's children.

One of my favorite ways to share life with my kids is through poetry and hymns. They require the highest level of thought to listen and soak in and often speak the language of our souls with a beauty our every day words often lack. The lyrical style often awakens my heart to truths from the gospel I haven't understood before, or deepens my resolve. When my children were old enough to sit for a stretch of time, (or while they were restrained in their high chairs!) I began sharing my favorites with them each day, pouring into their hearts, affecting their senses and hoping to create grooves of memory in their tiny brains.

The following is our favorite Thanksgiving poem, Harvest Home by Henry Alford. It was actually the hymn recited in C.S. Lewis's "The Magician's Nephew" by Frank the Cabbie just before Aslan began creating Narnia. May it's truth enrich your family celebration today as you thank God for all he has given us and the precious promises found in his Word.

Harvest Home

Come, ye thankful people, come, Raise the song of harvest home: All is safely gathered in, Ere the winter storms begin; God, our Maker, doth provide For our wants to be supplied: Come to God's own temple, come, Raise the song of harvest home.

All the world is God's own field, Fruit unto His praise to yield; Wheat and tares together sown, Unto joy or sorrow grown; First the blade, and then the ear, Then the full corn shall appear: Lord of harvest, grant that we Wholesome grain and pure may be.

For the Lord our God shall come, And shall take His harvest home; From His field shall in that day All offenses purge away; Give His angels charge at last In the fire the tares to cast; But the fruitful ears to store In His garner evermore.

Even so, Lord, quickly come To Thy final harvest home; Gather Thou Thy people in, Free from sorrow, free from sin; There, forever purified, In Thy presence to abide: Come, with all Thine angels, come, Raise the glorious harvest home.

~~Henry Alford, 1810-1871

Blessings, Kristen

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