Sunday, December 11, 2016

Enjoy a Movie and Moving Joseph, Mary and the Donkey

I was intending to share about something else this week, but when I heard my children laughing as they watched a movie and, then, giggled  myself upon finding our Joseph, Mary, and donkey figurines facing our bathroom wall for the umpteenth time this week, I felt prompted to share about one of our simple Advent traditions:  Family Movie Night and a Journey to Bethlehem.

Now, before I share why Joseph, Mary, and the donkey were facing the wall, let me explain the back-to-back parts of our weekly Advent tradition:

Family Movie Night 

As much as we attempt to keep our hearts focused on joyful anticipation during Advent, it's easy to get caught up in pre-Christmas busyness and holiday hoopla.  Thus, for the past several years, we've made it a point to s-l-o-w life down in our home once a week throughout Advent - and, sometimes, straight through Christmastide and on to Candlemas - to enjoy the treat of a family movie night.
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So far this year, we've enjoyed:

Miracle on 34th Street is a classic, which is well worth watching.  Beware, though: the movie can bring up questions about if Santa really exists, which may not be welcomed, depending on your children's ages and family's traditions. 

In our home, we have always taught the Santa is the expression of the spirit of love at Christmas, so the movie presented no problems for us.  Rather, Miracle on 34th Street proved not only a fun film to watch, but also one that prompted natural discussions about virtue and vice as chatted about the plot and characters depicted in the movie.

In years past, we've watched this version of The Littlest Angel:

This year, though, we accidentally ordered this one from the library:

What fun my children thought this newer version of The Littlest Angel is!  They laughed so hard at the silliness and antics within the film and appreciated messages about the importance of friendship, the delights of memories, the power of forgiveness, and the big potential of small acts of kindness.  They also paused to comment about the theological differences between the movie premise and our own Catholic beliefs. (We have discussed before how humans do not become angels when they die, for example.) 

Watching the extras included on the DVD, my children learned a bit more about animated film making.  Cool!  A lot of laughter, a little theological chatting, a cozy doze of togetherness, and a bit of learning...  I'll take that for a movie night.

In years past, some other films we've enjoyed are:

...and more!  We'd love to hear your recommendations for family-friendly Christmas and Epiphany movies!

A Journey to Bethlehem

After our movie each week, we help our Joseph, Mary, and donkey figurines journey towards Bethlehem.

Basically, on the first day of Advent, we put the angel, shepherd, sheep, and cow figurines from one of our nativity sets up in our living room and, then, place the Joseph, Mary, and donkey figurines in one of the rooms furthest from the living room. Then, each week during Advent, after a simple dinner and movie, we move our Joseph, Mary, and donkey figurines to another room in our house, helping them, "journey to Bethlehem".

On Christmas Eve, Joseph, Mary, and the donkey finally settle into our living room nativity set.  Then, on Christmas day, the Baby Jesus figurine is added, and, after journeying themselves, the Wise Men get added on Epiphany.

A Bit of Humor

So what's up with Joseph, Mary, and the donkey facing the wall? 

This year, some of our bedrooms have not yet made it into a clean and clear state, ready to safely host our Joseph, Mary, and donkey figurines for a week.  Thus, last week, the children decided to have the figurines journey to our bathroom. 

Putting Joseph, Mary, and the donkey in a clear space in the bathroom all seemed well and good until someone had to go potty.  Then, the children felt uncomfortable, so they turned the figurines towards the wall each time a potty run was made.  I did not know this until someone forgot to turn the figurines back around when exiting the bathroom.  Oh my! 

I am glad it is a new week and Joseph, Mary, and the donkey can continue their journey to Bethlehem elsewhere.  I also look forward to our next family movie night.

What simple traditions help slow your family down during this sometimes busy season? 


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