Thursday, November 21, 2013

Intentional Christmas

Ah, isn't it interesting how when our heart changes our thoughts change too. This has been a year of heart change. If that sounds all warm and fluffy, believe me it was not. This was a year of soul work. Heart wrenching work. A year of healing and modification. Work I continue each day.

Thank heaven God sent Jesus to love the broken. We don't need to be perfect in order to have faith. Isn't that the best gift? These are the thoughts on my heart as the days grow shorter and the weather colder. How do I celebrate Christmas now that my heart is new?

If you follow this blog, you may remember last year when I talked about Santa and shared my thoughts on his importance in a child's Christmas experience. Well, a year can sure make a difference because I am rethinking Santa and gifts and decorations. Not because I believe any of those things are inherently bad. No, I like Santa and gifts and decorations. But, I don't like when Christmas becomes only about the surface things. When the reason for the celebration becomes about stress to satisfy the demands of meeting the expectations of "doing" Christmas right.

Maybe it is because the first holiday items were in stores right after the back-to-school season or maybe it is anticipated exhaustion from all the work of buying and wrapping and sending and worrying about whether it will all be enough. I just want to check out of the roller coaster this year.

My question is not how to avoid Christmas but instead how to create a celebration about the reason behind it. If you are a Christian that reason should be the gift of Christ to our world. A gift to teach us how we are to love each other. A gift of forgiveness offered and salvation given regardless of the wretchedness of our past.

And if you are not a believer, I still think the holiday season should be about family and generosity and loving each other. What is the point if it is only about new stuff and high calorie food? Why even bother?

I prayerfully ask what is it I should do to lead my family in a celebration about loving Jesus and each other. How do I set the example? What traditions are important? Will it be Santa and parties and new toys? Or will it be slowing down and taking the time to quietly worship? A time to reflect on our family and our dedication to each other? A time to give of ourselves? A time to share in our good fortune?

My goal for this season starting next week with Thanksgiving and moving through December into the new year, my goal is to keep it slow and simple. I want to decide what is important and what is not. And you know what? What is important for me may not be important for you.

My list of important things are food with family, a tree for my children, sharing the story of Christ's birth, giving to the compromised, snuggle time with my three greatest loves and a few presents on Christmas morning for Jack and Grace. Everything else doesn't really matter to me.

I want an intentional Christmas. One where I choose how my time and energy will be spent to honor God, love my family and serve the community. It isn't about a picture with Santa or the perfect gift for an in-law. I am going to try and fight the urge to look pulled together. Instead I want my focus not to be on impressing others but on enjoying the moments.

Will you join me? Can we let go of party favors and perfectly wrapped gifts and instead slow down and spend time with the ones we love? Can we let go of the stress and focus on the true gifts of the season?

I am praying for an intentional Christmas. How about you?

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