I love Christmas.
I love the smell of cinnamon and pine and cookies baking that it brings.
I love the feelings of hope and of love that are wrapped into it.
I love that it brings people together.
It makes me sad to see commercials sell Christmas as a superficial holiday that is meant to get us all in debt because we “have” to buy expensive gifts for everyone we know. They tart it up in shiny red pleather and meaningless songs about marshmallow worlds and tell our kids that it’s all about focusing on what shiny new toys they want.
When we buy into this shallow version of Christmas, it makes the holiday feel like a chore. It’s no wonder so many people get stressed at the thought of Christmas being around the corner. This version has sucked all of the joy and beauty out of this wonderful holiday, because it forgets the importance of giving from the heart.
Christmas is so beautiful because it represents the greatest gift ever given to the world. A gift that could never be earned and certainly was not deserved. A gift that was given freely, with no expectations of getting anything in return. Gifts cannot be earned and are not deserved. We give gifts freely from our hearts and out of pure, honest love. That is what Christmas is all about.
I refuse to allow my children to get swept up in the sparkle and shine sold to them on television, because there is a lesson in this holiday that is too precious for them to miss. So I’m going to start a new tradition with them this year, and do an advent calendar. But I don’t want any of the “go build a snowman” or “have some hot chocolate” nonsense, because if it doesn’t mean something then it’s not worth doing. Since Target only sells the junky kind, I’m opting to make one of my own. I’ve never made one before, so I’ve been getting ideas online. The goal is to have each day cover one piece of the Christmas story and an activity that we can do together as a family (and of course some candy, because it’s funner when chocolate is involved). Unfortunately I didn’t have time to create it in advance like I had hoped. The OCD part of me wanted to put it on a shelf for next year, but I feel that it’s too important to wait. So, the girls and I will make our calendar together tomorrow, just in time to do Day 1.
I have found that the best way to teach your kids something is through example. I want them to think of Christmas as a time to give to others instead of focusing on themselves and what Santa will bring them, so I’m vowing to do a random act of kindness every day for the month of December. Our budget is always tight, but I have learned that it’s not about spending a bunch of money. It’s about giving of yourself and your time. If you give someone a handmade card from a heart of love, it will speak volumes over any fancy gift money can buy. Giving of yourself changes lives. A random act of kindness can be leaving an encouraging note for someone, or saying a prayer for someone, or going out of your way to smile at everyone you see.
I believe that if we can shift our focus onto other people, and do it genuinely, we can impact lives. Truly impact lives.
That is what Christmas should be all about.
I don’t know what we’re going to do each day or how I’m going to manage everything with 3 kids who are 4 and under. But I know this:
God doesn’t ask that we have everything figured out. He just asks that we bring our best to the table every day, knowing that He will take our small offerings and turn them into something extraordinary. I commit my life to God every day, so I know that it will all work out in the end.
I want to encourage you to join us. It is so easy to lose sight of other people in the hustle and bustle that is sold to us this time of year. People are what matter most. God gave up everything in an attempt to have a relationship with us. Our bonds and friendships are powerful things; important things. I believe that if we can get back to that-get back to other people – that we can experience a supernatural joy.
So as you go into this first day of December, I would urge you to think of how you can bless someone else today. I’ll be sharing our Christmas journey with you as we go along; I hope you will read along. And please share your random acts with me as well!