Okay, because Laura Troxel is waiting....and because last night I went to an event with some great women at Lakeside Christian Church who got me thinking about how to help our family stay centered this Christmas.
We have set 3 goals for our family this Christmas:
- We want our family to be moved by a beautiful story.
- We want to prioritize daily preparation for the celebration of the coming of the Messiah.
- We want to spend quality time around a table with people we love.
Here are a few ways we've tried to do this in the past, or continue to build those things into our lives at Christmastime:
An exciting adventure story of a 10 year old boy as he finds his way to the Savior born in Bethlehem. These daily readings kept our kids on the edge of their seat in anticipation....there are 3 books in this series, and through the years, we've read them several times! Probably best for ages 8-14, though has some scarier parts to be aware of if you have kids who don't handle that well.
In 2013 we did a Kindness Advent. Every day included a word to meditate on, and an act of kindness to do - sometimes in our home, and often for others. Some of our favorites were hiding $1 bills at the Dollar Store with an encouraging note, leaving treats for the mailman or garbage man, putting encouraging notes on car windshields at the grocery store, and inviting people to dinner. This was super fun and interactive - - but did require some advanced-planning and work from mom! For more ideas, check out http://pitterpatterart.com/kindness-advent/
Last year we used Ann Voskamp's book to direct our daily advent preparations and made a Jesse Tree with ornaments that were a free download from her website. The Jesse tree is a smaller tree we put on our table and every day we added an ornament that told a different part of the Christmas story.
Handel's Messiah - I wrote about some of our family traditions here, and now that my girls are older and share my love of Handel's Messiah, finding a local "Sing-along Messiah" is an annual priority of mine.
Andrew Peterson's Behold the Lamb of God Album - When I think of being moved by a beautiful story, this album will do it. Our family will go see the tour at the Virginia Theater in Champaign on December 12th. Forget the Trans-Siberian Orchestra or the Nutcracker.....this is the stuff.
Here are some other ideas I've heard, but haven't tried at our house....
- Reading the Christmas Story from Matthew or Luke....I heard this tradition from my friend, Faith Brooks, who said her family would read the story every day of advent. The same story. Every day. But the beautiful thing is that they can now recite the Christmas story for memory
- I know these Advent activities are supposed to keep me from spending and wanting and giving in to the consumeristic part of Christmas, but I WANT this Advent Wreath from Joy Wares:
(And, ahem, my birthday is coming.....)
So here's the point of it all. How do we focus on what's important this Christmas and not let the culture or expectations from others (or ourselves) hijack what it's really all about? I'd love to hear how you're entering this season with intentionality....