Christmas in the Holy Land

We finished our Christmas in… unit this morning. Now we’ll take off a couple weeks or so from formal school. Not that the Christmas in… unit has been all that formal.

We read the book over the course of the week. This one is a little different from the others. On Monday we read the last chapter which is about how Christmas is celebrated in Bethlehem. The rest of the week we worked our way through the Nativity story. It was very interesting to read the scriptural version followed by an explanation and historical perspective starting with Mary learning she’d be mothering the baby Jesus and ending with Joseph, Mary, and young Jesus settling in Nazareth. It was a lovely story to learn in depth the week before Christmas.

We made a Christmas wreath. It’s basically a rice crispy treat made with corn flakes and green food coloring. Of course I couldn’t have any (and I LOVE rice crispy treats) since Fritz is sensitive to corn (and so the corn flakes and the corn syrup in the marshmallows).
The kids insisted they needed to put a candle in the center of the wreath which meant they needed a huge glob of the stuff right in the center. Somewhere in there it really is somewhat a wreath shape. The kids were so proud of it, though, since they did the shaping all by themselves.

And then there were the candy cane cookies that weren’t. We decided to try to alter the candy cane cookie recipe so I could eat them. This was apparently a bad idea. The kids made the cookies with their dad. Instead of butter (Fritz is sensitive to dairy) they used coconut oil. Instead of egg (another food Fritz is sensitive to) they used oil and baking powder. And then there was the problem of not having red food coloring. In one of his exploration experiments Cameron used up the red food coloring. And the blue. And the green was used up on the wreath. So that left a little bit of yellow. So the two colors of dough were pale yellow and not so pale yellow. So far so good. The batter tasted pretty good. Pale yellow dough was flavored almond, not so pale yellow dough was flavored peppermint.

But then we discovered a problem. Jamie tried making snakes out a bit of each type of dough and then making it into a cane shape. The dough sort of made snakes decent enough, but it broke when he tried to form it into a cane. So he decided candy sticks it would have to be. The kids chose to make cookie patties instead of canes or even sticks. And so the cookies were baked and they didn’t turn out half bad despite not being red and white and not being shaped like candy canes.

It’s been fun learning about Christmas in Ireland, the Philippines, Poland, and the Holy Land. I’m looking forward to learning about Christmas in four more places next year. In among learning about Christmas in those countries, we learned to sing the first verse of Adeste Fideles (in Latin) and Ani has learned to play a simplified version of We Three Kings. And now we look forward to a week at the zoo (aka my parents’ house packed with us, my parents, siblings and their spouses, nieces and nephew, and uncle – 16 people in all).

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