For most, December is a crazy month filled with parties, programs, baking, buying, decorating, overspending, secrets and stress. Why? Why are we doing all of these things? Do we feel present, peaceful and grounded? Or does it make us feel frantic, frazzled and burdened?
Just the sheer thought of the craziness that surrounds Christmas makes me on the verge of a panic attack. The obscene amount of unnecessary things that are purchased and given is overwhelming. We give not because we can afford to give or want to give or even because the person needs the gift. Instead we so often give with debt acquired because, in some way or another, we feel obligated to give.
Year after year, I feel deep down inside of my soul a conviction, a yearning that longs to celebrate only the birth of Jesus on Christmas.
I'm not saying that it’s easy, and I'm for sure not saying that I don't fail miserably each year, but I continue to long for this celebration and to try my best.
I long for a simple Christmas. One where no materialistic gifts are needed, but where our time spent together is the best gift. One where no fake man with a big white beard is what children are excited about, but where all are completely overjoyed that their Father in heaven loves them so very much he sent His own son to give to us a beautiful undeserved gift. I long for a simple Christmas with no debt, no stress, no greed, no desires of our own take over; a simple Christmas that truly focuses on what Christmas is really celebrating-the birthday of Jesus Christ.
We do many things each December to keep our focus on Jesus. And I am longing to add more traditions to our December, but more so I am feeling called to change our Christmas Eve & Christmas Day to truly focus on that little babe in the manger.
Here are some of our family’s Christmas traditions:
- We teach them about Saint Nicholas. We talk each year about what an amazing man of God he was and how he sacrificed his own needs for people who had less than him. We do not teach our children to believe in Santa. (Our children do know that others believe Santa is real and brings them gifts. They know it is that child's mama and daddy's job to tell them the real story- not our job! :) )
- We read different versions of the biblical Christmas story each day of December. Some of our favorites are: The Animals Christmas Eve, The Jesus Storybook Bible, The Christmas Baby, The Christmas Story with the Holly Babes. We lots of play time with our Little People Nativity.
-We seek out Drive Thru Nativity's, with hot cocoa in hand we enjoy the outing as a family.
-We encourage the hand making of gifts or the buying of a gift that will be truly special to that specific person. Each gift we give is carefully planned and picked for its receiver.
-Every evening during our Bible time, we focus on the scripture leading up to Jesus' birth. Our method changes yearly, but this year we are going through Ann Voskamp's Jesse TreeJourney, and in addition to the scripture, we are reading the corresponding story out of our Jesus Storybook Bible. (I think we will use this particular combination for years to come. I feel a tradition brewing. *swoon*)
-On Christmas Eve the children do a play of the birth of Jesus.
-Christmas Day we have a birthday party for Jesus, complete with decorations, cake (or cupcakes), singing and celebrating.
What are some of the ways your family keeps Jesus at the center of this season?
What are some ways your family keeps Jesus at the center of Christmas Eve & Christmas Day?