Thanksgiving is over and Christmas is fast approaching. I am already starting to feel the stress of all that needs to happen in the four weeks leading up to Christmas. I did the frantic, exhausted, running non-stop holiday race for too many years before I wised up, slowed down and got my priorities in order.
This blog is going to be a little different as I share practical ideas that have put Christ back into Christmas and given myself and my family a more peaceful holiday season.
1.) Start your day by reading the story of Jesus birth found in Matthew and Luke. Add an advent devotion to your morning routine. I work my way through Ann Voskamp’s book “The Greatest Gift of Christmas: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas” each year.
2.) Attend church every Sunday. Listen to some great sermons that bring the nativity to life week by week and character by character. Fellowship with other people and sing some classic Christmas carols. Attend the children’s program (even if your kids are not in it) or a choir concert (even if you do not know anyone singing).
3.) Do a family movie night once a week. No matter what age or stage your children are pick an agreed upon night, put on your jammies and pop some popcorn. We like the classics like Miracle on 34th Street, The Bishop’s Wife and It Happened on 5th Avenue. Maybe your tastes run more to Home Alone & Christmas Vacation. The movie is not the point – time together and creating traditions is - with friends if you are single, with your spouse or other couples as empty nesters, or with your kids happily tucked in beside you.
4.) Encourage other people out of the abundance that God has given you. It could be with your time or with your resources. It could be as quick as a text or card in the mail or as long as an afternoon of free babysitting for a young mom in your neighborhood who would delight in the opportunity to Christmas shop alone.
Here are a couple of simple, inexpensive ideas to consider. Do a “Countdown to Christmas” for someone that needs encouragement. Wrap 5 little numbered gifts (book, candle, gift tags, favorite spice, fuzzy socks etc.) for a friend who is struggling in some way. Which gives them one gift to open each day with an encouraging word in the 5 days leading up to Christmas.
The “Magic Soup Bowl” is a great gift to give to a friend, family member or neighbor. Each Sunday during the month leading up to Christmas (or the 4 weeks following Christmas) make a large crockpot of soup. Refill a 6-cup Tupperware bowl each week with a different soup. This gives the recipient 2 to 3 servings to enjoy on different days.
Whatever you decide to do and however you choose to spend the time leading up to Christmas I pray that this year would be a more peaceful, God-centered holiday season for you and your family.