A Book of Joy, by Briana Elizabeth

I think I can speak for all of us mothers at Sandbox when I say that through our collective parenting, we’ve learned that the most important things that happen during the holiday season are the experiences we share with our loved ones. And with that in mind, I put forth the idea to create a Book of Joy. Something focused on making memories with your children, with very limited means, and supplies. I want to create a place of solace with this idea. I know it’s on the internet, and not very personal, but I hope that you can take this idea and walk through these days to Christmas with contentment in your heart that the most important things of life aren’t found under a tree. There are many ways to offer Widow’s Mites.

I’m aiming for a post a day. Just a snippet of something for you to think about and ponder, and something for you to do with your children that won’t break the bank. We’re trying to keep the ‘ingredients’ list as simple as we can, to accommodate  everyone’s location and ability. With that in mind, I also encourage you to think outside the box a little. If you don’t have a certain item, please interpret the idea the way you want and substitute how you see fit. Be creative with it!

Most of all, you don’t have to do anything. “What, they want me to do a CRAFT?” No, no you don’t have to do the craft. We offer it as something inexpensive that can open the possibilities of spending some time with the kids in ways that don’t put any financial pressure on the family.

Like old, favorite ornaments that are preciously wrapped in tissue paper each year and taken out to be hung with great care, and reminisced over again and again, we’re wanting to create a book of memories for you and your family of precious time spent together. A book of joy.

Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is about? -Charlie Brown

To children, Christmas is a count down. How many sleeps until they get to open their presents? Knowing this, I decided to start with an Advent calendar of sorts. I was inspired by Lynne’s reading chain.

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I chose three of the oldest wrapping paper rolls I had laying around. That middle one? The stars? I think I’ve had that since I was first married. That would be 21 years. It wasn’t a favorite, so I kept tossing it back in the pile. Now I’m going to make some good use of it.

We made a paper chain with the three papers. Don’t cut them too thick (yes, I made that mistake). We cut them about 1 inch by 8 inches. Now, you could use old books, or construction paper, but I was thinking about using stuff up, and the wrapping paper fit the bill.  Cut one or two pieces for the ring as a template, and just go to town.

Then, we used a piece of white paper to cut out small circles of white to write the countdown numbers on (the template was the inside of the tape roll), and the outside of the tape roll was used as a template to cut a larger circle from the wrapping paper to use as a frame, of sorts.

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Put on some music, get yourselves something hot and scrummy, and spend a few hours cutting paper with the kids.

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Then I cut a big star out–no template used (as you can see) and just used the rest of the white paper to write Christmas on it. I used one extra blank ring in between the #1 ring, and the star. And I folded another ring in half and used it as a hanger so I could tape it all to the wall.

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I added a little blazing star tail on the first chain, so that it resembled a shooting star of sorts.

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Every night after dinner, someone can cut the ring off as a part of the countdown, and set off the shooting star.  Or, you could read a Christmas story each day and let a child cut the ring off after the story is over.

If you make one, share a picture in the comments!


Briana Elizabeth has been at this homeschool gig since her 23 year old son was in 7th grade, and his psychiatrist told her that he had to be homeschooled. Her son never went back to public school that year, and the following year, she pulled her 4th grade daughter out of public school. Her five other children have all been homeschooled entirely. It was baptism by fire, but she wouldn’t trade it for the world. Through the years, she has in the end, not only educated her children, but herself, and homeschooling has brought about a whole paradigm change of living for her family. The education that had seemed only possible for the elite was possible through classically homeschooling.

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