I have listened to the sermons in church this December and felt the tuggings of the Spirit, but a shift in thinking didn't take root in my heart this season. Partly because I was already well into my Christmas shopping lists and spending frenzies. By the time I was ready to embrace the change, it was already too late for some of it.
What am I talking about?
A stress less Christmas season. Spending more time with Jesus and less time on the to-do list. Gifts of presence rather than piles of presents. Giving to those in need rather than to those who have so much already. Giving more because I'm spending less. Finding more time in my schedule to connect with people around me. Share the love of Christ instead of being too short on time to notice anyone at all.
For me, I realized that to go against the norm brings at best some challenges and at worst some fear. What will everyone think when we give much less to them than what they give to us? How do I cut down the list? Where do I begin? It becomes too hard to decide. Will I ruin Christmas for my kids if they only have one or two presents under the tree? (Probably not) What busyness (sometimes called traditions) do I need to set aside? But they all are so much fun! Oh, forget it! Change is hard. The usual routine is easier. At least I know what to expect.
And that's why I didn't make as many changes as I deep down, really wanted to. Posting this on December 20th isn't going to help anyone else for this Christmas either, but I hope it gives you something to stow away in your mind until you need it in about 10 month. I've included a few ideas that I may use next year to make Christmas more about Christ and less about all the other stuff.
*Read the Christmas story out of Luke 2 as a family. Often.
*Don't force the holiday traditions. Pick and choose. Keep space in our calendar.
*Give away as much money as we spend on presents. Generousity breeds contentment.
*Teach my kids how to be givers and not just "I want-ers".
*Have fewer presents under the tree.
*Focus on relationships. Invite neighbors over for a social. Gather friends for dinner.
*Give a gift to Jesus. What do I want to give him throughout the next year? Morning devotions? Wrap up a coffee cup and place it under the tree. Regular quiet time? Place a clock under the tree. Open these "gifts to Jesus" as a family.
Here's a link to an article by Melanie Chitwood on the Proverbs 31 Ministries site last week titled, Keeping It Simple. Merry Christmas!