I’m not sure why, but I’ve had this incredibly deep desire to make Christmas much more meaningful for our family this year.

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I feel like every year, I get lost in the hustle and bustle.  I don’t like stepping a foot in stores these days.  I dread the thought of over spoiling our kids with too much and having their appreciation dwindle down to nothing.  I fret over what gifts to buy and who to buy them for.  To be honest, I have to many negative emotions going on during a season that is supposed to be about love and joy and hope.  I blow up big over things that aren’t important, losing sight of the fact that the biggest thing to happen during Christmas involved the birth of a tiny baby Savior who brought hope to the entire world.

So this Christmas, we’re doing things differently to try to get that focus back.  I thought I would share some of them, in hopes that they might be an encouragement to anyone else who ever happens to feel the same ways I do during the holidays.  In no particular order, here they are:

1.  We’re doing Advent.  And for us that means two things.  One, we read from an Advent devotional (click the link to check it out, it’s free in iBooks), written by one of Jeremy’s good pastor friends, Gary Hansen.  It’s been great to sit with our family every day and read verses and words of focused encouragement.  It also means that we’ve brought back our Advent Calendar.  I bought it from Target one year and our family loves it.  The difference this year, is that it’s not just Mommy trying to fill 25 days of Christmas fun.  Every person in our family has five days throughout the month to get to think of fun surprises for everyone else.  It’s been a great way for our family to connect and show love to each other.

2.  Tis Better to Give.  When I thought of the presents that we would bestow upon our children, it gave me a bit of a panic attack.  First off, they both had fall birthdays and got all sorts of wonderful gifts.  Some still have yet to be played with.  Also, knowing that I have a tendency to buy Christmas presents that will later get broken or lost or just neglected, I wanted to try something different.  So we gave our kids a choice.  We told them that this year, they could take part of the money that we would spend on gifts and get to use it to give to others.  However they wanted.  Christian thought up the idea of getting $5 gift cards and giving them to strangers.  Ellee wanted to make goodie bags for everyone she could think of.  And so that’s the plan.  We’ll probably start shopping next week, but I’m thrilled in knowing that our kids will probably get more out of giving to others than receiving.  I’ll keep you posted.

3.  Finding Joy in the Little Things.  Ellee came home with a plastic dreidel today that her substitute teacher gave her.  And she sang me a little song and taught me how to play her new game.  And it was fun.  And it made me realize that I want to take time to find the joy in the little things.  I’ll be honest.  This past week has been non-stop.  But stopping to play a game with our sweet daughter was just what I needed to smile and laugh and take joy in the simple things of the season.

4. Remembering the Reason for the Season.  One of the boys from Hangtime that came over last week for dinner asked me where our “elf” was.  And I hurriedly told him that we didn’t have any elves in our house, but that it was okay.  And it is.  I’ll be honest, I enjoy seeing my friend’s Facebook posts about their Elf on a Shelf.  I don’t mind Santa and I’m happy for the things that make others happy during this time of year.  But for our family, we’ve always enjoyed celebrating Christmas as Jesus’ birthday.  And so, the final thing that will help our Christmas to be more meaningful is remembering why we celebrate Christmas.  For us, it will start this coming Sunday with our church’s Children’s Christmas Play.  It’s 7:00pm at Eastport Bible Church and I cannot wait to see our amazing Hangtime and Transformers kids act out the Nativity.  After that, we’ll enjoy a few more Sundays at church leading up to Christmas.  My favorite events will be our church’s Live Nativity and Christmas Eve Candlelight Services.  And even though they will be busy times, they will continue to remind us of why we celebrate this incredible time of year.

And there you have it.  Just a few things that I will do to help make this time of year more meaningful for myself and our family.  Hope this helps, if you happen to have ever felt the way I have.  And I hope that you can find many ways to make this season meaningful for you and your family.

Written by lauraherr8

I love Jesus, my Youth Pastor Husband and our two beautiful children. I'm a professional photographer and I love people, especially kids. My best days include time with my family, Hot Yoga and a Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream cone.

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