Well, it’s that time of year again. Time to make resolutions about what I’m going to do differently this year. No, I don’t mean exercise more, eat healthier, get organized, or other typical New Year’s resolutions. I’m talking about resolutions for the season of Advent.
- Don’t get caught up in the commercialism of Christmas
- Slow down and enjoy time with family and friends
- Focus on the real meaning of the holiday
- Spend time preparing for the birth of our Lord and Savior
But here’s my truth… I’ve already spent 7 hours shopping on Good Friday, umm, I mean, Black Friday. I’ve spent my whole Thanksgiving break decorating the inside and outside of my home. Our trees (yes plural) were up before Thanksgiving. And I’ve already spent a considerable amount of time obsessing over which perfect picture would make our Christmas card for this year.
So how exactly does one slow down, focus on the real meaning of the holiday, and not get caught up in the commercialism of Christmas?
I’m not gonna lie… it’s hard. From as early as October stores start showcasing Christmas decorations from wreaths and trees to giant inflatable snowmen; commercials are advertising the “must haves” of the season; and the streets are already donning twinkling white lights.
To get away from all of THAT, would be impossible. And honestly, I wouldn’t want to. I love seeing the lights and hearing the carols, even if it is on the tail end of Halloween. It doesn’t mean we have to avoid stores, watch less TV or close our eyes while driving down the road. (Please don’t!) Instead, consider the following ways to enhance this special time of year:
SPEND TIME IN SCRIPTURE AND PRAYER
When my children were little, Santa Clause, flying reindeer, talking snowmen and a mischievous house elf, made up a huge part of our holiday. Why? Because it was fun! As a parent, you cannot deny the magic of Christmas morning when your children run downstairs with eyes as big as saucers when they see what Santa left for them. However, before one gift was ever opened, we found our family bible, and took turns every year reading the story of the birth of Christ. A simple but important gesture to help center and focus our day.
SPEND TIME IN YOUR HOUSE OF WORSHIP
I love to entertain friends and family in my home. Now, my house will never look like Martha Stewart’s, and our food will never taste like Julia Child’s. But, what we can offer is an inviting, casual, homey place to share a meal, hang out, and enjoy fellowship with each other. When our company leaves, it is with strengthened bonds and the anticipation of when we will see each other again. Is this not exactly what God desires for us when we come visit Him in His house? To leave nourished, with strengthened bonds and the desire to see Him again?
HELP THOSE LESS FORTUNATE
Helping families who are less fortunate than ourselves, is not only rewarding but a responsibility. “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required” Luke 12:48 For as long as Scott and I have been married, it has been our priority and pleasure to adopt a family in need. These families are selected and screened through a nonprofit organization. Our children have helped select and wrap gifts, as well as deliver them. It is a humbling experience to see so much need, right here in our little town.
SUPPORT A WORTHY CAUSE
Giving credit where credit is due, we started a new tradition a few years ago that came from a very dear friend. As one of their Hanukkah gifts, she gave her own children money, with the intent for them to decide how it should be spent to help others. I so loved this idea, we totally stole it for our own children. It’s one thing for mom and dad to always select a charitable organization to support, but children have their own ideas as well and mine chose causes near and dear to their hearts.
CHANGE THINGS UP
Last year I hosted my side of the family for Christmas. In total there were 15 of us. Typically we exchange gifts with everyone, followed by a big family dinner. We decided to change our focus a bit, as we couldn’t come up with 1 thing we needed or wanted. Neither could our children. So for starters, we exchanged homemade gifts. This required more time and thought, but the end results were treasures. We also arranged for all of us to volunteer at a local soup kitchen. Up at 5:45am and not back home until almost 1pm, wiped us out. But it had a profound impact on all of us, to truly be the hands and feet of Christ.
The hustle and bustle of the season is upon us. There are gifts to buy and wrap, trees to decorate, lights to hang, cookies to bake, menus to prepare, houses to clean, parties to host and attend, and cards to address. And I will do all of it. But if that is all I do, I will have missed the point.
For me, the birth of Jesus cannot just be one more item on my “To-Do” list that I cross off Christmas morning. Rather, He needs to be at the center of my list so that everything I do is with purpose and for His glory.
This Advent season as we all prepare, wait in hope, and yes, shop, let’s do so with Jesus on our mind, on our lips and in our hearts. In this way, commercialism fails, and CHRISTmas prevails.