A New (Old) Kind of Christmas Tradition

If you’re like me, the Holiday Season becomes a great big blur of busyness!  It starts even before Thanksgiving with grandparents asking what the kids want for Christmas!  My kids make Amazon wish lists, hand-written lists, and e-mailed lists, dreaming of all the things they could ever want!  To make matters worse, my husband and I stress about spending money to buy things for all the loved ones in our family… spending hours combing through online deals to be good stewards of our money and find the “perfect gift” that doesn’t break the bank.  The rest of December is filled with shopping trips, Christmas parties, gift wrapping, and preparation for the “festivities”.  But the truth is, most of the HOPE and JOY of the Christmas Season is replaced by STRESS and BILLS and BUSYNESS.  Does this sound familiar?

I dream of a simpler Christmas for my kids, filled with family time, reflections of the story of Christ’s birth, and serving others.  But a dream without a plan is just a wish.  So, this year, I’m making a plan!!! 
 

Idea #1: Advent Calendar. 

Traditionally, Advent is the four weeks leading up to Christmas, a time to anticipate the coming of Christ at his birth as well as celebrate that one day he will come again!  Most Advent calendars have pockets or drawers to put candy or gifts in… one for each of the 25 days counting down to Christmas.  While you don’t need an Advent calendar to know that Christmas is coming, I love the idea of intentionally spending 25 days reflecting on His birth! 

Instead of focusing on gifts for each of the days, I’m going to include Advent Cards with a scripture reading from the Christmas story, followed by either a family activity (like driving to see Christmas lights or baking cookies) or an activity to serve others (like help a family member with their chores or serving food to the homeless).  My hope is this will keep us focused on the true meaning of Christmas all month long!  (You can download my Advent Cards below or get crafty and make your own!)
 

Idea #2: Three Gifts— just like Jesus. 

In Christmases past, we’ve tried to stick to giving our kids three gifts, just like the wise men brought Jesus three (gold, frankincense and myrrh).  Hey, if it’s good enough for baby Jesus it’s good enough for my kids!  While there’s certainly nothing wrong with having more than three gifts, three gifts helps us be more intentional with what we buy and why we are buying it, instead of just giving our kids more “stuff”.

This year, I’m going to focus the three gifts into these three categories:

  1. Something they want.  Even our good father loves to bless us with good things.  We don’t purchase a lot of things through the year for our kids, so it’s fun to be able to bless them with something they want!
  2. Something they need.  Let’s face it, sometimes our kids need something that isn’t necessarily something on their list.  This gift can be anything from a new snowsuit to a new outfit or shoes.  With all the gifts they receive from well-meaning relatives, it’s nice to be able to buy them something they need instead of another present they won’t play with in two months.
  3. Something to give.  This one’s my favorite!  I want to take the money we would spend on another gift FOR my kids and give it TO them to spend on someone in need!  My husband’s grandfather actually started this last Christmas before he passed away and I can’t wait to continue the tradition!  I plan to give my kids a World Vision or Samaritan’s Purse catalogue to pick out clean water, a goat, or medical supplies for kids in need around the world! 

It’s in GIVING to others that we truly have GRATITUDE for what we have!  Giving is an extension of our faith.  Colossians 2:7 says, “Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”  I want my kids to have a thankful heart this Christmas season and I can’t help but think it’s directly connected to giving! 

That’s my plan in a nutshell.  Scaled back.  Focused.  Intentional.  My dream is that our December will be full of the wonder and joy of the Christmas Season, replacing selfish desires with serving, replacing busyness with family time, and replacing stress with HOPE and JOY!  What new (old) traditions do you want to create this year?

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him.  Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 15:13 NLT

Tarah Eldridge