Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Different Christmas

I know I wrote a few times early in December about having a different Christmas this year. So far, it really does feel different...more simple and more meaningful. The past week has been filled with Christmas concerts. 5 kids in school means 5 different concerts! And I am about to tell you a big secret...the school district my kids are in sings Christ-centered songs at Christmas time! The choir directors still believe that it is OK to sing "Away in a Manger" or "Go Tell it on the Mountain" and this year's middle school finale was a Michael W. Smith song! The director has asked us to pray for protection, so that each year he can introduce great choral pieces that also share the message about Christmas. Every year there are letters to the editor in the newspaper, and every year, he still sprinkles in the songs among the seasonal cheer.

We don't have our live tree. Instead, a precious family from H2Otown has lent us their tree to enjoy this year. I let the kids take over the decorating and they actually did a fantastic job. I haven't even moved a single ornament (despite the fact there are about 24 clustered right on the same 2 branches)! And under our tree...two cards that remind us of the gifts of ducks and chickens instead of the live tree.

I haven't stressed out about baking or decorating and instead have sat down more with the kids to watch some of the classic TV specials. We also are committed to our advent readings each night at dinner. I am humbled and amazed that my children are now asking, "What are you going to read tonight?" We have had wonderful discussions about the shepherds and how radical it was that a host of angels decided to tell THEM about the birth of Christ. We also talked about King Herod and why he felt so threatened by the birth of a child in Bethlehem. Then, we debated where exactly the wise men were from and when did they finally get to see Jesus. George was especially excited about thinking one of the wise men being from Africa. We even have talked about how Jesus probably was not fair skinned and blue eyed coming from the region of the world in which he was born. We purposefully picked up a nativity set full of dark skinned shepherds, wise men, Mary, Joseph and Jesus! This set has become our favorite.

We went simple on the Christmas presents. And I picked up chocolate bars and other goodies for their stockings. For the first year in a long time, I actually believe the kids will be excited about having a few chocolate treats in their stockings! We have come to a place in our lives where an extra candy bar is something our kids truly treasure.

We have taken all the kids to the Dollar Tree to pick up presents for their family. This has become a favorite part of our Christmas. We open these gifts on Christmas eve...and I have a feeling I will end up with 5 new coffee mugs again this year! (Love that!!)

I made a Prophecy Present this year. We will open that Christmas Eve as well, leading the kids in scripture readings about the numerous amount of prophecy that Jesus' birth fulfilled.

We are volunteering in the 2 year old room on Christmas Eve - we all love cuddling with the toddlers that night!

The biggest difference this year is probably in my heart. For the first time in my life, I am not pining away for some special gift or something I have seen on TV. I see the commercials for the diamond earrings and cry out! "Do you know what you could DO with the money being spent on frivolous jewelry?" For one diamond necklace, you could buy a well for a village in Ethiopia! You could buy a cow through World Vision and give a family food and milk for years! I used to say to Joe, "I can't wait for the day when there will be a little box under the tree for me." That was my way of telling him that I really wanted some diamond earrings. Are you kidding me? I can't even wear earrings 364 days out of the year!!!

I am reminded of a verse that God brought to my attention about 5 years ago, that still resonates daily in my heart. "And the earth has nothing I desire, besides You." I prayed that God would lead me to a place where I could say that honestly...that there is NOTHING here that pulls my heart or my attention away from Him. I think I am starting to move closer toward that. And for that, I am thankful.

Eleanor wrote me a note a few weeks ago that I cherish. She wrote, "Mom, I am thankful for you because you are teaching me how to be compassionate and to love justice." THAT alone is the greatest gift anyone could get me this year.

1 comment:

~Alicia said...

I like it!
Christmas is better enjoyed when it's simple and to the point!

And Eleanor's words...priceless!!! Good work Momma!