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    Prevent Christmas Embarrassment with These Five Manners

    December 11, 2018 by Brandy Vencel

    Many years ago, I found myself embarrassed by my children when, upon opening a generous Christmas gift, they innocently declared to their great grandparents, “We already have this!” Kids say the darndest things and all that, but seriously? Not even a thank you?


    The next Christmas wasn’t much better. That time around, it was food. “Ew!” they exclaimed, staring in disgust at the green beans some relative had lovingly prepared. Even the baby was in on this antic.

    The year after this was my first year doing what I call DecemberTerm. In those days, there weren’t many school lessons anyway (I only had one student), so all we did was Advent and Christmas. It was all Christmas all the time — Bible reading, singing Christmas songs, reading Christmas poetry, baking — you name it, we did it and that was all we did. No regular school stuff at all.

    I miss those days, but times change as children grow up.

    The Lord had mercy on me and put it in my head to teach manners as part of our DecemberTerm Circle Time that year. It was 2010 and I feel so old saying so.

    Manners lessons were an amazing game changer that I had completely forgotten about until I was rummaging through old files. Turns out, kids don’t actually know what they are supposed to do. They may be vaguely aware that Mom is standing by, horrified by what they just said or did, but often they aren’t sure why. I think I expected my children to pick up good manners along the way when what they really needed was a bit of direct teaching.

    DecemberTerm was three weeks long that year and so we learned one manner per week. Each day, I repeated the manner, and then we had a little talk about it using a Bible verse and some questions I had prepared in advance.

    I can’t tell you how much this improved our Christmas season! Not only did my children finally know how I expected them to act, and not only were they quick to become sweet and considerate toward others, but we had some wonderful talks about the meaning of Christmas, Christian love, and more.

    The next year, I thought of a couple new manners to teach, plus repeated and old one. This brought me to five Christmas manners (hence the title of this post).

    It’s funny; none of my children remember these lessons. But to this day I hear the older ones advising the younger ones on how to behave, and it’s all taken from this script I wrote almost ten years ago.

    I thought some of you might enjoy doing something similar with your children and so I typed up my notes from what we did before and they’re ready for you to download and use. This is a five page PDF. On each page there is one manner and five sets of discussion notes (with Scripture readings). Just fill out this form:

    A few tips on using this tool:

    • Like anything, don’t be a slave to the curriculum. You don’t have to teach all five manners. You can even save some for next year!
    • I taught manners daily and so there are five discussion notes per manner — one for each weekday. If you only want to discuss a manner three times, simply choose your favorite discussions and use those — they are mostly in no particular order!
    • Reword the discussions to best fit your own children.
    • You don’t need to use every question on every child.

    Whether your children have embarrassed you … or not (lucky you!) … these lessons might be just what you need to do a little coaching before the big day arrives.

    Merry Christmas, friends! ♥

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  • Reply Amy November 23, 2021 at 3:33 pm

    I heard about this from the Morning Basket podcast (Pam Barnhill, ep #105)) when you were a guest discussing this, and I am really looking forward to doing this with my boys… but I can’t get the download. I have subscribed, but don’t see a link anywhere to get the file. Please help!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel November 24, 2021 at 4:41 pm

      Unfortunately, this is because you have a yahoo account — it marks almost everything with attached documents (from unknown senders) as spam. It typically does this at a high enough level that users don’t even realize it is happening. Do you happen to have an alternative email address?

  • Reply Brooke Favorat December 20, 2018 at 6:39 am

    Brandy, what an awesome and wonderfully practical resource! Thank you SO much for this. Merry Christmas!

  • Reply J December 18, 2018 at 12:50 am

    Hi there.Could you resend 5 manner pdf ? I didn’t receive.Many thanks! J

    • Reply Brandy Vencel December 18, 2018 at 11:29 am

      Hi Judith! It’s probably because you haven’t yet confirmed your subscription? I’d check your spam files — Yahoo is a difficult email provider for me to work with because they always think my files are spam! If you can find it and mark it “not spam” that will help!

      Let me know how it goes. 🙂

  • Reply Rebecca December 17, 2018 at 1:26 pm

    Thank you. What a beautiful touch to our Christmas celebrations.
    Cheers, Rebecca

  • Reply Sharon Scholz December 16, 2018 at 9:02 am

    Aww man! This is awesome! I only just saw this, and now my kids are going to get a crash course in Christmas Manners this week!

  • Reply Dawn Simpson December 16, 2018 at 4:58 am

    What a refreshing idea and just in time for gift giving! Thank you! ❤️

  • Reply Amy Horan December 15, 2018 at 6:26 pm

    These are fantastic, Brandy!! Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Reply Tanya December 14, 2018 at 9:55 pm

    I’m sorry, but I entered my email address to get the pdf and it didn’t send the file to me. I would love to use these lessons!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel December 15, 2018 at 9:04 am

      Hi Tanya! I think I just sent them to you, so please let me know if you don’t receive them… 🙂

      • Reply Tanya December 15, 2018 at 10:26 am

        Thank you very much!

  • Reply Melina Meador December 13, 2018 at 7:09 am

    Oh this is so helpful and generous- it has not occurred to me to teach this so explicitly! Thank you so much. Brandy, your blog and the Schole Sisters podcast has been life giving to me. Thank you for sharing with others out of your joi de vivre nd wisdom.

  • Reply Laura in Ontario December 13, 2018 at 5:13 am

    Hi Brandy – I really wanted to try out this curriculum you’ve created. It sounds great! I filled in the little form two days ago, and I still haven’t seen anything in my inbox. Should I maybe wait a little longer, or has something gone wrong? Thanks!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel December 13, 2018 at 7:25 am

      Hmmm…no…it should work close to immediately — definitely not 2 days!

      I just looked it up and it’s like you never subscribed! So weird! Unless you used an email address different than this one? Let me know. If you used THIS address, go ahead and try it again — maybe there was just a glitch at that time. If you used a different email, let me know and I’ll look it up for you.

      • Reply Laura in Ontario December 13, 2018 at 7:48 am

        I used a different one I think – the same first part, but instead of

        It won’t let me do it again – it just says “You already filled out this form.” 🙂

        Thanks for looking into it for me Brandy!

        • Reply Brandy Vencel December 13, 2018 at 2:08 pm

          Hi Laura! It looks like the confirmation email was marked “complained” for some reason. It happens — it might not have even been YOU! Anyhow, I talked to my service and they are going to delete you, which should reset the form for you so that you can use it again. If you have any other issues, please let me know! I hope this works! 🙂

          • Laura in Ontario December 14, 2018 at 5:20 am

            Thank you Brandy. It looks like the form did not reset. I deleted the cookies from your page, and it still doesn’t work. Thanks anyway! I guess I will survive, and I appreciate your trying! 🙂

  • Reply Kristi December 11, 2018 at 6:28 pm

    Thank you so much for this, Brandy! How timely — I am going to start with one of these next week I think, and it will probably be “Be Happy for Each Other” — oh, how that one can get tricky when your sibling is opening presents … And Sharron is not alone, my own youngish children also said, “Is that it?” one year (maybe last year!) after gifts were opened. It was embarrassing! We’ve been emphasizing this year that it’s not all about the presents (obviously!), and I am hoping some of these lessons stick. 😉

    Semi-related question: You said you did no regular school stuff during December Term. Did you just stop using the AO schedule, and resume it with the regular (Term 2?) plans in January? We finished Term 1 recently, and after exams last week I have been limping along with trying to get Term 2 started (it hasn’t really, yet). There are so many festive activities and then vacation later this month that I was wondering if I should just hit pause on it and start Term 2 on Jan 7 … (I only have two students, a Y1 and a Y0, so we’re still new to using AO.) I understand if you don’t have time to respond but thought I’d ask what you did! Thanks.

  • Reply Sharron December 11, 2018 at 6:28 am

    What a good idea! I remember one year my daughter, maybe around age 3 or 4, said after opening presents at my parents, “Is that it?”. I could have died! She genuinely just wanted to know if we were finished, but it sounded so rude.

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