Please Don’t Ask Me to Simplify Christmas

I understand the ways that a busy Christmas season can bring fatigue and frustration to many people.  But I actually find joy in the:

 “presents! The ribbons! The wrappings! The tags! And the tinsel! The trimmings! The trappings!

How the Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss

First, a little background about me: well actually about me and my husband. We did not grow up celebrating Christmas. We were each raised in a church denomination that taught that since Christmas has pagan origins it should not be observed by true Christians.

What this means for me is that by the time I was pregnant with our firstborn and no longer under that church teaching I had pent-up a lifetime’s worth of Christmas love and emotion and affection and passion and…obsession! My husband—not so much—but he lets me be. He hauls my bins of decor in and out of our storage room for me with a smile. 

I don’t want to miss another moment of decorating, baking, sending cards, going to parties, shopping for friends and family. I love it all.  Although I am not interested in “Simplifying Christmas”–when it comes to worshiping Christ, I am interested in “Nailing Christmas.”

So as we raised our family amidst all the “trappings” that can be distractions, we knew we would have to be intentional about making Jesus the central focus of our annual Christmas season. As parents we are often not very consistent with many of our good intentions (maybe you can relate). But since this approach to Christmas is so simple and so meaningful we have been doing it consistently for 15 years. 

How have we nailed Christmas year after year?   

Every year, we choose a theme and use it as a framework for our Christmas celebration.  We always build on top of Jesus as our foundation but we create a new theme each year.  We then lead one “Christmas Family Meeting” a week for four weeks leading up to Christmas. 

Traditionally, the season of looking forward to Christmas coming, called Advent is a four-week celebration.  We had four kids so it worked well for us to have four meetings during those four weeks.  At the conclusion of each meeting, one of our kids would receive a small gift (we did an ornament).  Four is not a magic number, it just worked for us.  You could do this for two weeks or three weeks or ten weeks (but I don’t recommend that!).

Discipleship (teaching someone how to be a Christian, a follower of Jesus) is an overwhelming idea at first.  It never feels like you are ready to do the teaching.  But by concentrating on one central Christmas theme, it has made our practice of family discipleship during Advent clear and focused.  It has given us a simple framework to have conversations about spiritual truths any time, any place .

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6:5-9

We want to share with you how we did these lessons, what some of our theme ideas were throughout the years, and ultimately what this has meant to our kids now that they are grown. 

Click here to continue with the next in the Nailing Christmas series.

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