Thursday, November 29, 2012

Keeping CHRIST in Christmas

We are nearing the 1st of December and the "countdown" if you will to Christmas.  This time of year can get so crazy can't it?  With Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday all in a short period of time....toy commericals and decorations going is easy to get caught up in all of it.

I am guilty of it myself!! So there is no judgement here - trust me!

But we are trying to do a few things that will keep our hearts focused on the true meaning of Christmas this year.  I will be honest....I am not ready to take away "Santa" all together - the kids do still get stockings with a few gifts.  But Santa isn't going to be the primary focus this season.  So I thought I would share a couple of things that we are doing to try and keep a right focus.
24 Books for Christmas.

I read about this idea last year during the Christmas season so I didn't have time to get things together...but last spring I gathered up all the Christmas books we had and bought a few more to have a set of 24.  The idea is simple, the kids get to open 1 book every day from Dec 1 to the 24th.

Specifically for us, we have only books that focus on Jesus and the meaning of Christmas. Some of them are the legend of the candy cane, or the story of the Christmas tree...but each book has meaning. Not only does this encourage reading together as a family...but hopefully it also helps keep the little ones focused on what is really important.

The Jesse Tree
I had not heard of the Jesse Tree before this year. It just so happens that our church is doing a modification of this for our kids Christmas program.  In their words....

"This book offers 25 devotions for each day from December 1st to December 25th, Christmas Day... the day Christians celebrate that God's purpose was finally revealed in the coming of the savior, Jesus Christ.

Each devotion traces the heritage of Jesus through the stories and prophecies of the Old Testament. 

The Advent Jesse Tree enables individuals and families to engage in a more meaningful celebration of the Christmas season.

These daily Advent devotions are written in two versions (one for children and one version for adults) including a scripture, a story & commentary, questions to ask, a prayer, and a song."

Isn't that awesome! I have also read of families making their own Jesse tree and  ornaments for each day and then decorate the tree after each days devotion. It is a little late for me to get all the ornaments done for this year....but I think it will be a top thing to get done for 2013!!

Oh and for our church program we were asked to make an ornament that went along with our child's verse. Elijah and Gabriel have this verse....
"Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you alone are righteous"

And this is the ark that I came up with
Only problem is I didn't read ahead in the program and the next reader talks about the I might have to take the rainbow off...but I wanted a picture of it first before I do that! :)

Limiting the number of presents our kids get from us

Last Christmas, and honestly several times before I have been struck by how much stuff the kids get. With 2 sets of grandparents and great grandparents and cousin exchanges....they don't even know what to do with it all.

And when they are tearing through presents and not even realizing what they have just feels like things have gone a little too far. Or is it just me??
 So I head about other parents limiting the # of presents each child gets to 3. Some even had guidelines like some they want, something to wear and something they need...stuff like that. 

While I didn't stick to that specifically...I did stick to a budget. The "big gift" and most expensive of the 3 gifts each is getting is $50 or less. Then they are each getting 2 smaller gifts. Karlena's most expensive gift is a doll cradle I got at a rummage sale for $10!

My point is that while I love to see my kids happy, I don't think I am doing them any good by giving them EVERYTHING they want....and for some things, if it were a bigger gift - like for Isaac, he paid for most of the gift and we paid for a small portion.  That way he is also learning the value of having to save up for something that he really wants!

Trust me I don't think years from now they will come to us and say we didn't give them enough or ask why we only spent $100 on them for Christmas.  If we continue to keep the focus on Christ...all gifts, big or small, regardless of size, will be ones they are thankful for.
 Giving to others

In this time of "I Want...." it is so important to teach our kids about giving back to others.  We started early in November by filling up shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.  It was really cool because the other day Dominic and I were in Walmart with Gabriel and Elijah...Elijah wanted something and I said no and then Gabriel leaned over and reminded him about the kids that don't get Christmas presents at all....and that we need to be thankful for what we do have and not be upset when we can't have something. 

Can you say proud mama moment?! :)

But I wanted to do we are looking at finding a family that we can "adopt" from our community and buy presents for. Our extended families have done this in previous years and I can tell you that it brings me so much joy shopping for gifts for someone else....knowing that it is going to be a blessing to them.  We have soo much to be thankful for, and honestly we as Americans are all rich compared to so many other countries....

Making Christmas special for another family is the least we can do as a demonstration of our thanks for all that God has blessed us with.

Those are just a couple of the things that we are doing but I know that there are other ideas as well and I would love to hear what your family is doing to celebrate Christmas and keep Christ as the focus.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

Love your heart and desire to serve the Lord my friend. Your children are lucky to get such priceless gifts!

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