I am just going to say it: November 2020 was rough! However, we made it through. We might have crawled for a couple of weeks there, but we made it! But even as I look back from the space of a day, I already see the little joys which will hopefully dot my memories of November 2020.
My little man turned 5 on the last day of November. I discovered afresh this month his love for music, for science, and for puzzles! We treasured the hymns and classical music together this month in a way we haven’t done yet. He and I conducted many sing alongs of our hymn and Scripture song from November that just made my heart sing!
Our Gathering is a large part of what gets us through our months – rough or not. That is why I am so excited about December 2020’s Gathering. I always find focusing on the gospel story of a baby born in a manger 2,000 years ago refreshing at the end of the year. I love to sing all the carols, make all the things, and cultivate joy in the hearts of my loved ones through traditions. And the December Gathering is always my favorite of the year!
I hope you have had the opportunity to start your own Gathering tradition this year with your loved ones. If you still haven’t gotten your Gathering placemats for December 2020, they are available here.
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December 2020 Gathering Extras
Though our Gathering Placemats are often a source for memory work material to hide in our hearts, the December 2020 Gathering is a bit different. I want these to be less academic and more storytelling.
Our approach to the Advent season is typically to read the account of Jesus’ birth slowly throughout the month, savoring it. By the end of the month, we can typically “re-tell” the story with exact quotes from Scripture sprinkled in. My goal with my kids is for them to be able to tell others the reason we celebrate Christmas from the heart.
This year the December Gathering includes a simple timeline of the Events of Jesus’ Birth (page 6). I am using this as a springboard for an Inductive Bible Study for Kids called The Story of the Birth of Jesus. You can follow along here. There will be new posts each weekday for 12 days. It is a simple and humbly offered devotion for you to do with your family.
This month’s placemats feature a poem by one of our family’s favorite poets – Christina G. Rossetti. Her poetry has delighted us for years. If you are unfamilar with her work, I highly recommend this edition of her Sing-Song Nursery Rhyme book.
As I was preparing the placemats this year, I stumbled on a connection between the art I was drawn to and the poet I was including in the December 2020 Gathering. The artist and the poet were brother and sister! I cannot tell you how much I love the Christmas artwork created by Dante Gabriel Rossetti! It is a colorful feast for the eyes.
I hope you enjoy this set of siblings’ work this month!
Gathering Scripture and Verse
The December Gatherings tend to tell the story of Jesus’ birth with lots of Scripture on each placemat. I encourage you to memorize some of these truths about Jesus as you gather with your family this month.
There are also more poems and rhymes than appear on other Gathering Placemat sets. I just love the way that melody and rhyme burrow themselves down deep in our hearts and minds. My deepest hope for these placemats is that they put a song in your hearts as you walk through this special season.
We are a read-aloud family all year long, but at Christmas I really like to have a read-aloud for all my kids to listen to. This year I am considering a number of options. Here are some of my favorite holiday read-alouds:
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (of course) – audio and e-book versions available on Scribd.
The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry (I LOVE O. Henry!) – audio and e-book versions available on Scribd.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson – audio and e-book versions available on Scribd.
Little Women by Lousia May Alcott – audio and e-book versions available on Scribd.
The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson (we read this one last year)
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (another of course!) – e-book version available on Scribd.
December 2020 Gathering Playlist
I am so excited about this month’s Gathering Playlist! It is always such a joy to put together songs I know my children will delight to sing throughout the month. And when they get excited about the classical music it just thrills my heart!
You have free access to the December 2020 Gathering Playlist simply by opening Spotify (you do not have to have a paid Spotify account to hear the playlist – although I am not sure if it will have ads). We use our Google Home Device to play the playlist by saying, “Hey Google, play December 2020 Gathering playlist on Spotify, please.”
Hymns and Spiritual Songs
This month’s hymn is “Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners.” Ambleside Online, whose hymn schedule I follow, recommends it for December. Although it is not a traditional Christmas carol, I do love the refrain of it. I can still remember lustily singing it in the church where I spent my earliest days as a believer. The refrain is filled with joy befitting the holiday season.
Included on the playlist, as always, is a vocal version followed by an instrumental version.
Next on the playlist is a musical anomaly for your enjoyment. This song, Coventry Carol, is just an oddity. My kids think it sounds like a Halloween song. I kind of tend to agree. Let me know what you and your kids think.
I also included the Latin version of O Come All Ye Faithful – Adeste Fideles. There is an ethereal quality to this version which I love. I hope you enjoy it too!
The Classical selections this month are more eclectic than usual, but fit the feel of this month’s playlist.
The first selection is a Latin hymn called “Hodie Christus Natus.” Here are the Latin words:
Hodie Christus natus est
hodie Salvator apparuit:
hodie in terra canunt Angeli,
hodie exsultant justi, dicentes:
Gloria in excelsis Deo, alleluja
And the English translation:
Today is Christ born;
today the Savior has appeared;
today the Angels sing,
the Archangels rejoice;
today the righteous rejoice, saying:
Glory to God in the highest. Alleluia!
The next piece is an arrangement of “In the Bleak Midwinter” by Gustav Holst. This Christmas carol was penned by our poet for this month, Christina G. Rossetti. I truly enjoy Holst’s work and am happy to have found this neat version.
The next selection on the Gathering Playlist for this month is Hector Berloiz’s L’enfance du Christ, Part 2. This entire piece is about the holy family’s escape to Egypt to avoid Herod’s decree to kill infants. It is hard to find a good translation of the lyrics to this portion of the work, but I like the sentiments expressed here:
He goes away from the earth
Where in the stable he was born.
From his father and mother
May there remain constant love!
Let him grow, let him prosper
And let him be a good father in his turn!
I might have gotten carried away a little bit with the Gathering Playlist this month. But we tend to have a longer Gathering in December because our school days are a bit less hectic. Thus, I included a last selection for the playlist is Arcangelo Corelli’s “Concerto Grosso in G Minor.” This piece is also known as “Christmas Concerto.” I hope you enjoy it!
I pray God’s richest blessings on you and your family as you enjoy the December 2020 Gathering!