I love that it is almost Christmas, but I do not love all the rushing associated with the coming holiday. This year I have decided to cut down on the things we do in preparation for this holiday and focus on the most important parts for next year…Are half the things on my list that stress me out really even necessary? Probably not. Here is a list of the traditions I am going to keep around or begin next year…
I am going to continue baking cookies and candies and all kinds of other things because I love baking and because that’s what my mom did with us. It’s a really good way to spend quality time with family and friends and giving away these goodies blesses someone else. I like to make Amish Sugar Cookies, Snickerdoodles (Noah’s favorite), Oatmeal Chocolate Chip (Mimi’s specialty), Fudge, and any other fun recipes that don’t take too many ingredients!
2. Christmas Tree
I want to continue chopping down real Christmas trees because I love the smell a real tree brings into the house and because it is really fun to pick one out and then saw it down yourself. I know that Christmas trees do have somewhat pagan origins, and it is a controversial issue, but I do love having a Christmas tree.
Here are some articles about the history of Christmas trees that I find interesting:
3. Christmas Eve Service
Every year at my church we have a Christmas Eve service with music and the Nativity. Anyone who lives around New Palestine, Il is more than welcome to join us at the United Methodist Church at 7pm this Saturday! I absolutely love participating in this, and it is one of the traditions that I wouldn’t miss for the world. The service helps me keep Christmas in perspective and to truly reflect on the wonder of it all. I always feel like the service is a little magical especially when we all gather around in a circle to light candles and sing O Holy Night.
Here is a video of the Celtic Woman group singing this song! So beautiful!
O Holy Night
4. Jesse Advent Tree
Next year I would love to start doing an Advent Tree! I think it is a wonderful way to anticipate the coming of Christmas and to gain a deeper appreciation of all that the Christ Child means. I heard about this from Ann Voskamp’s blog, A Holy Experience. My mother-in-law has begun this at her house and I think it’s just great!
5. Spiritual Challenger
I love the idea of giving spiritually challenging gifts for Christmas, and I hope to become better at this in the coming years. I think Christmas is about Jesus and what better gift to give someone than something that helps to challenge them in their spiritual walk, and gives them more knowledge about Christ. The point of Christianity is to become more Christ-like and to be more like him, we have to know him. Praise and worship CD’s, a new Bible, a devotional, or a spiritual journal are all ways to challenge and encourage your friends and family in their walk.
I do not mean giving as in giving to friends and family (even though that’s very nice), I mean giving to those less fortunate. I have read some things recently that have opened my eyes to what Christmas should be. Giving to those who are in need should happen everyday, but most especially on Christmas! That is what Jesus did all throughout his life. He helped those who needed it. I know I don’t need the things that I put on my Christmas list for my husband this year. Those are things I want, but to know there are those who may not even have food to eat has hit me hard. It’s interesting when I stop to define needs and wants that my perspective on life completely changes. Next year, we will be giving one another something spiritually challenging and then finding something very worthwhile to do with the rest of the money we would have spent on one another. I wish we had done it this year! We would also love to begin volunteering somewhere Christmas morning, like a soup kitchen! I know this experience will be rewarding!
I love to go Christmas caroling! It can be such a blessing to visit the homes of those who are home-bound and sing uplifting songs to soothe their spirit! It is also so wonderful to visit nursing homes and sing the residents Christmas carols. Many of the people in nursing homes don’t get to attend church anymore even on Christmas and it is so heartwarming to be able to spread some cheer!
8. Christmas Story
I love reading the Christmas story on Christmas Eve with just the glow of the candles and lights on the Christmas tree. To imagine Mary and Joseph and the wonder they must have felt of it all. The wise men and shepherds traveling and knowing what they were about to witness. The Angels singing and rejoicing. What wonder and amazement…the Christ child…
Luke 1:26-46 (KJV)
26And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
27To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
28And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
29And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
30And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
31And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
32He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
33And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
34Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
35And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
36And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
37For with God nothing shall be impossible.
38And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
39And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda;
40And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.
41And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:
42And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
43And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
44For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.
45And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.
46And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,
Luke 2:1-20 (KJV)
1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
20And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
This is my list from now on of traditions I want to establish and keep for my family, and I hope I am able to stick to my guns on this! It is so easy to get caught up in the hustling and bustling of it all! I think it is so important to maintain the right perspective about Christmas and to establish traditions that keep in line with what the season is all about. Doing a family devotional everyday before Christmas is a wonderful way to do that. I hope some of you readers will prioritize your Christmases from now on and keep in mind what it is really about! May you have a blessed Christmas and may you truly grasp what it really is all about…
Blessings In Christ,