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Sunday, December 02, 2007

Peeling back the layers of Christmas

We love Christmas. LOVE IT!
If you didn't know that, you've obviously never seen our home during the Christmas season. We celebrate Christmas big!
But there are things about the Christmas season that many people dread. To name a few...
1. Commercialism
2. An over-booked month
3. Spending too much
4. Shopping
5. Greediness
So Rusty and I have been searching for the way to de-stress, de-clutter, and de-secularize Christmas for our family.
Our goal is just that Christ would be the focus, and we would truly worship and celebrate during this season!
So we decided to spend less. I think we've made that decision each year for several years now, and we're starting to get the hang of it. We are giving more than ever as a family, and spending less and less on stuff. I don't say that to bring glory to us in any way, but to give all the glory to God for teaching us how to give Him more glory with all of our resources.
Shopping for parents, grandparents, my kids' 13 first cousins, and close friends overwhelms me! So this year I decided to get the bulk of our Christmas shopping done before Thanksgiving. This has been GREAT! I feel NO STRESS right now about shopping, which is miraculous. I have never liked to shop, and shopping with four small children is a very real form of torture. I bought several things on-line, and Rusty and I did a lot of it while on date nights. Even Wal-Mart is enjoyable when I go with Rusty on a date night. It was even fun!
We are being very careful in guarding our children's hearts from the "Gimmies", the greedy spirit we find acceptable for children to have at Christmas time. We instead are focusing our fun and creative energy on what they are giving rather than getting. They have told us one thing that they want for Christmas and that's more than enough. They need NOTHING! They have a playroom full of toys! God is teaching us contentment and thankfulness, and I just can't see that we can have those things, commanded in scripture, when we have a long list of things we want and will be disappointed if we don't get on Christmas morning. That definitely shifts the focus off of Christ. Gifts are not bad! But wanting things to the point of discontentment or lack of thankfulness is, for sure! My kids are responding beautifully to this so far. I am so proud of them! They are so excited about getting each other special little gifts.
Another thing we do to de-stress Christmas is stay home for Christmas Eve and Christmas day. Being with extended family is definitely one of our favorite things about the holiday, but travelling is difficult with lots of kids, and stressful even under the very best circumstances. We decided a long time ago that we would go to our own church Christmas Eve service and our kids would wake-up in our house on Christmas Day. Christmas day is very relaxing! We have many traditions to keep, like eating monkey bread for breakfast and Christmas Chili for lunch. We stay in our pajamas all day and play! It's wonderful! We celebrate Christmas with both sides of our family either before or after Christmas, which works best anyway when you are coordinating so many family schedules.
We are not anti-cultural traditions when it comes to the holidays. We really enjoy a lot of the Christmas-y food, movies, decorations, etc. But in everything, we remind our kids that everything special about the Christmas season points to the reason this season is so special. Did you have to read that sentence twice? I mean Christmas is and should be a BIG deal to us as Christians, because Jesus is everything to us. We ought to let people know that we celebrate and worship during this season in many fun, festive, and even reverent ways because it's a big, fat, stinkin' deal!!! We have a cross as our tree topper, and I love that because Jesus' birth points us towards Jesus' death and resurrection, and that should bring us to our knees in thankfulness for our Savior! As we put the Christmas lights on the tree, we talk about how Jesus is the light of the world. When we put the cross on, we talk about the significance of the cross at Christmas. And when we were done decorating the tree this year, Emma went and put baby Jesus at the bottom. (See picture in the post below.)
So we are trying to pull back all the layers of junk on our Christmas and make it truly enjoyable and worshipful. For each family, I do believe that is going to look different. We must examine what draws our hearts and eyes away from the Lord. That's going to be different for each adult, and for each child. I hope that our kids see Rusty and I fixed on Jesus during the Christmas season, and not stressed-out and too busy.
Hope this season is off to a good start for all of you! I treasure every day that our Christmas tree and lights are up. I adore sitting in the living room with the lights off and the tree on. I also love the new p.j.'s the kids get on Christmas Eve, the Christmas candy and bread baking I do, and I like driving through the lights at Santa's Wonderland with the kids. We already went once this year, and Treston, a man of few words, kept saying "Wow! Wow!" That's fun!
What are things that you and your family love at Christmas?


The Kramer Family said...

This all sounds so fun! And perfect timing for me because this year is the year that I have decided to establish some traditions (for lack of a better word....sorry) into our Christmas celebrations and help us focus on the Lord instead of the world. KK is at that age where she is starting to ask a lot of questions now because 'Christmas' is all around her.

Love ya!

brickmomma said...

We are also trying to re-tool a lot of the Christmas we were both raised with. Something I am dealing with more this year is folks trying to manufacture experiences that aren't really there. If it isn't working - its ok. Like getting the entire extended fam together to pick out a tree...anyway. We, too, have plenty of it all. How do you express that to your extended family, that consumable, or heartfelt gifts are so much more meaningful than a bunch of stuff we don't need?

Still working on life........

Brian Seay said...

that picture looks a little like the Pilgrims invaded the Nativity Scene. From what I know of history, that would not surprise me.


Kathryn, Michael & Alex said...

I love that my children know that Christmas is about Jesus.

I love doing a Happy Birthday Jesus cake and reading the Christmas story and serving food to homeless people.

nancy said...

Our big thing is decorating the tree. The kids put on the ornaments they have made over the years and the angel goes on last. There is a dramatic turning on of the lights Then we drink "snog" which most people know as eggnog and eat homemade shortbread cookies shaped like moose with chocolate covered antlers. Phil reads the story from the Bible as we close the evening. And of course Christmas music is playing the whole time.