Why Our Christmas Tree is Up Before Thanksgiving


christmas-tree So yesterday we put up our Christmas tree. I know what you’re thinking, we haven’t even had Thanksgiving yet!

Yes, our Christmas tree is up 4 days before Thanksgiving. And I have to say that this is earliest I have EVER had a Christmas tree in my house.

I know that many people are against early Christmas decorations because of the widespread commercialism of the holiday and the “skipping over Thanksgiving.” I have to admit that I have had similar thoughts in the past, so we have never put our tree up before Thanksgiving.

So when my children asked yesterday if we could please get our Christmas tree out (They have literally been asking since October!), I had a thought that actually changed the way I think about early Christmas decorating.

Here was my thought:

Christmas is actually a big part of Thanksgiving to me.

I know it does sound strange when you first hear this, but allow me to explain my thought:

So everyone knows that Thanksgiving is a time to pause and give thanks to God for all that we have. I love Thanksgiving! It’s one day of the year that we are especially mindful of all the blessings we have.

Fisher Price Little People Thanksgiving Set

Thanksgiving is a time we remember the history of the Pilgrims coming to America, their successful first year of harvest, and how God had provided for them after the initial hardships they faced.

My daughter and I have been reading about this in detail and have learned so much in one of her history books this year called Stories Of The Pilgrims.

So that’s Thanksgiving.

Now let’s look at Christmas.

Christmas is about celebrating the Savior’s birth. Without Jesus coming to Earth as a baby, He could not have gone to the cross to pay for our sins (and not just for our sins, but for the sins of the whole world, “whosoever believes” 1 John 2:1-2, John 3:16).

Christmas Tree Close up

This truth was really brought to life for me at Christmastime last year as my family and I enjoyed reading a book together called One Wintry Night.

My favorite quote from this book resonates in my mind as we approach Thanksgiving this year:

“Since the beginning of time, we needed Christmas.”

What a beautiful thought this is!

When you think of it this way, we really should be celebrating Christmas everyday of the year, the humble first coming of the Savior we all so desperately need!

So yesterday, 4 days before Thanksgiving, we put up our Christmas tree.

And while having a Christmas tree up doesn’t necessarily remind me of all the blessings I have to be thankful for, it does remind of of something that I am most thankful for:

God’s saving grace that was made possible only through Jesus, who first had to come as a baby in a manger.

Happy Thanksgiving, Friends!

I hope the blessing of Christmas will be a big part of your Thanksgiving this year!

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Rod and Staff Preschool Workbooks


Rod and Staff Preschool Workbooks Set of 7 ABC SeriesToday, my two little hearts were so excited because of a box that was delivered to our front door. It was a box from Milestone Books and contained our new Rod and Staff Workbooks!

I was introduced to Rod and Staff through the Heart of Dakota Curriculum, Little Hearts for His Glory. My 6 year old completed this amazing curriculum last year, and these simple, yet beautiful workbooks called Going on Eagerly and Just Thinking and Choosing were part of the fine motor skills schoolwork. She absolutely loved these workbooks – the cutting and pasting, the tracing, the simple illustrations, and the learning about various animals. I have to admit that I was equally impressed. They were so simple, yet so profound. And the cost of them – I absolutely loved that part. They were just over 3 dollars each. There aren’t many good quality workbooks to be found at this price!


Just to tell you a little about Rod and Staff, if you haven’t heart of them. Rod and Staff Publishers was founded in 1958 as Pilgrim Mennonite Press and is located in Crockett, Kentucky.  Their purpose stated in their printed catalog is to “supply Christian homes and schools with Bible-based textbooks and literature that impart truth and that in no way compromise the Word of God.” They do not sell directly online. They can be contacted directly by phone (606-522-4348) to obtain a catalog or to place an order. If you wish to order online, Milestone Books is the major distributor for them. And some of their products can also be found here on Amazon. But even if you do get free shipping from Amazon, I have found that the prices of the workbooks are much cheaper at Milestone Books. (Most of the workbooks are just $3.60 each!)

So this year, as my daughter has moved into the next Heart of Dakota Guide (Beyond Little Hearts), Rod and Staff workbooks were not part of the curriculum. She has missed doing these workbooks SO MUCH. So when I discovered that there were other workbooks available, we ordered them! And to my 3 year old son’s delight there were some available that he could do too!

I bought the Set of 7 ABC Series (pictured above) for my son. It’s called the ABC Series because the title of each book begins with a letter of the alphabet in sequence. They are: Adventures With Books, Bible Pictures to Color (also included was Bible Stories to Read that goes along with it), Counting with Numbers, Do It Carefully, Everywhere we Go, and Finding the Answers.

Rod and Staff Workbooks GHIJKLI also ordered the set of 4 Preschool Activity Workbooks for 3 and 4 year olds. These look like they will be wonderful for him. Four great workbooks for $10.00!

For my daughter, we ordered the GHIJKL Series which came as an add-on with the Set of 7 ABC Series. She has already completed G and J (Going on Eagerly and Just Thinking and Choosing) so those 2 will be put away for my son when he begins Little Hearts for His Glory. But she now has Hearing and Helping, Inside and Outside, Keep Doing It Carefully, and Learning More and More to work through.

I also ordered a Rod and Staff Music Workbook for her as she is becoming interested in learning piano.

Both of my children are so excited to start their new workbooks! And I love seeing them excited about learning.

Friends, if you are looking for some good quality workbooks for your preschooler and young elementary age children, I highly recommend Rod and Staff workbooks. They are so simple, but we all absolutely adore them!

(Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. You may read our disclosure policy here.)


Teaching Preschool at Home

Four years ago, I set out to become a preschool teacher to my first little heart. She was only 2 and 1/2 years old at the time but she wanted to "do school." And she really was ready, or so I thought. She loved for me to read books to her and would sit and listen for as long as I would read. She could say the alphabet flawlessly and count to twenty with near accuracy. She could identify colors, shapes, and almost all letters of the alphabet. I had to agree, she was ready to "do school."

The problem was, I didn't know how to "do school" with her. Just two years prior to this, I was a full time pharmacist. My days consisted of filling prescriptions, counseling patients about medications, screening for drug interactions. I didn't know anything about being a preschool teacher.

So I went to the dollar store. I bought a few letters and numbers workbooks, a brand new box of crayons, and a fat pencil. I showed her the new, colorful school books. She was so excited! Well, that is until we opened them to the first activity and I told her to trace a line. She took the fat pencil into her little right hand with eagerness, and attempted to stay on the line. She tried so hard! (With the knowledge I have now, I know that there is probably no two year old that can trace a line with precision.) Despite her best effort, she did not stay on the line. The tears came. Big, sobbing tears of failure because she couldn't stay on the line. And the tears were followed by a phrase that I will never forget coming out of her little mouth, "I not want to do school!"

A few days went by. She no longer asked to "do school." She even said, "I not like school!" a few times when I tried to talk to her about it.  I was devastated. My husband and I had recently decided that our daughter would be homeschooled. How was I supposed to homeschool her if she didn't like school and if I couldn't successfully teach her?

I had to find a way for my daughter to want to "do school" again. So I made the decision to get rid of those workbooks that had caused tears, and to never bring them up to her again. Maybe she just wasn't ready to do school, I reasoned. But with all that she knew, I couldn't understand why those books had been so stressful to her! They looked so colorful and fun!

What I didn't realize at the time, friends,  is that we had already been doing school. Yes, preschool had already begun for my daughter, and I was already a preschool teacher to her. Our lovely times of reading together, playing with her blocks and toys, all the things she had been learning through play was school for her. And that was enough, actually more than enough, at her age. That beautiful, adventurous, eager age of two.

So why didn't I know this at the time? It's because this type of school wasn't the school that I knew. I attended public school my whole life. So did my husband. The idea of school to us (as well as in the Sesame Street books we had been reading to her) was sitting at a desk or table, with a pile of worksheets or a workbook and coloring pictures and writing letters. The idea of school through play would have seemed ridiculous to me at that time!

Friends, don't ever underestimate the power of playtime for teaching a preschooler. It is truly how they learn! Play with your little children. Read to them. And teach them as you play. No worksheets (or tears) are required.

I am remembering this as my second little heart is now preschool age, and it is so precious to do school with him in this way. (Surprisingly, he does ask for worksheets at the age of 3 because his sister eagerly does them now at the age of 6. He really enjoys them, too. He is not stressed out by not being able to stay on the line perfectly as she was at preschool age. He completes them with joy!)

I will leave you with this quote that I love and have found it to personally hold so much truth:

"Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood."  -Fred Rogers