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My thoughts have already been skipping ahead to the warming scents of Christmas foods and the music that begins playing in our home just after Thanksgiving. It’s already time to be thinking ahead to the Christmas season! It’s just around the corner and it’ll be here before we know it. It might seem early to be writing about it, but I have some exciting resources to share with you that might help in your holiday planning.
A Meaningful Time
Christmas is usually a time of struggle for me. First of all, I did not grow up celebrating the birth of Jesus. Sure, we went to church on Christmas Eve, but the holiday was all about gift-giving. I can recount several years of tears and sadness as my family totally missed the point. It still grieves me.
Now, I also hate how it’s become such a commercialized holiday as I feel the tug to be greedy as Christmas lists are still asked of us. Am I the only one that struggles with this? I don’t want our children to know Christmas as a time to rack up great gifts. I want them to understand that it’s a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, and for them to understand why we can have such joy in the celebration.
We haven’t banned gift-giving, for we think it would rob particularly the grandparents of great joy. It’s fun to give gifts, because truly “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Our children are still small so we haven’t yet incorporated our long-term plan/tradition of giving a large gift that the children will enjoy together.
We are still a young family, so we are still developing traditions. However, we have established a few and it only aides in the anticipation of the holiday!
We do an advent calendar throughout the month of December, read Christmas books throughout the month, listen to classical Christmas music (Best Carols 100 is on my husband’s Christmas list this year!), read the Christmas story on Christmas Day and celebrate with the yummy sweets in our house. I had planned to make a birthday cake last year, but really, with all of the other sugary stuff, I didn’t think we needed any more!
I made my own ornaments a few years ago with the different names of Jesus on them. Even though I came to our marriage with a huge box of Christmas ornaments my mom collected for me as I grew up, I have had the hardest time putting them on our tree. Again, I have felt like it takes away from the true meaning of the holiday. There is something about seeing “Star of David”, “Lamb of God”, “Messiah,” and others every single day that helps meditate on the wonderful gift of the life of Jesus!
I’ll share my Christmas menu (and recipes!) next month, but for now, here are a few links to recipes that we’ve incorporated:
Incredibly Yummy Eggnog – I double this recipe. Need I say more???
Butternut Squash Lasagna – come back tomorrow for the recipe!
The Best Chili Ever – as declared by my loving husband, who asked that this be our traditional Christmas dinner.
There are several resources that have helped me think more creatively in how to make this season a time of purpose and meaning in our home:
I’ve really appreciated not only the practical ideas in the book, but the personal anecdotes Mrs. Piper describes!
I would love to add a new Christmas book to our repetoire each year that is age appropriate. This is perfect for very small children as it captures simply the concept of welcoming Jesus. The illustrations are my favorite part! I’ve not yet decided on a book for this year…any suggestions?
This is new to me this year, and I’ve really enjoyed it! Not only are there many practical ideas for planning, but with her many years of experience, Sheri Graham has wisely planned each week with ideas of what to accomplish so as not to end up with an overwhelming list of things to do at the last minute. I started it a little late this year, but with a little bit of catch-up, it’s been so helpful! Sheri has graciously offered one of my readers a free copy of this ebook! To enter, simply leave a comment below. Entry for the giveaway will be open until 11:59 pm on Saturday, November 6th. Update: Giveaway has ended!
This was a wedding gift to us (great idea!) and I’ve enjoyed putting this on display each year. Now that we have kids, the lambs are missing legs and I find them in all sorts of fun places throughout the house. Time to look into a kid-friendly one?
Two resources I’m sad that I can’t recommend for purchasing due to their unavailability this year, but that I wanted to share for future reference (I feel kinda cruel!) include:
The Noel Advent Calendar from Desiring God. This was a gift to us before we had children and it is probably my favorite tool for the holiday. It is simple and extremely kid-friendly (good, since it’s for kids!) with burlap as the calendar background and velcro to affix the animals, people, and symbols. A little laminated booklet (so obvious it was created by a mom!) comes with it that has a little story (a sentence) for what each animal, person, or symbol’s role is on that day. I can’t wait to pull it out and am so sorry it’s not available this year!! And I’m sorry that my box is still in the attic so you can’t see what it looks like!
The Glorious Coming: A Jesse Tree Advent Celebration by Ann Voskamp
I was so sad lamenting recently when I learned that this too, is not being sold this year. I knew I should have bought it last year!
Ann, like my new blogging friend Sara, have what I believe to be a gift from the Lord with their writing.
This year, I hope and am planning to incorporate a Jesse Tree into our advent celebration. I first read about it over here on Lindsay’s blog. What a fun way to get little hands involved and to plant seeds! I would love to make the decorations together and as they are ready, to add them to the tree. We’ll see how it goes.
Ten Questions to Ask at a Christmas Gathering by Donald Whitney. Because we entertain family members that we don’t see often and that don’t espouse to the same beliefs we do, these serve as great conversation starters and should the Holy Spirit allow it, provide opportunities to share more about our faith in Christ.
As our children grow, I want to continue to deepen our celebration of Christ’s birth. For those of you with children three and older (Tara’s age), what do you do to make it meaningful?