Next week is Thanksgiving! (a holiday we have for several years claimed for ourselves which is epic awesome! We are Colorado bound this year!! BLESS.)
Which means soon after….Christmas is coming! I love the lights and the tree, the advent readings and warm yummy food. Oh my word. The music is the BEST. The excitement of giving things to people you love for no other reason than just because…is thrilling!
Five years ago, Christmas imploded/exploded for us. The fake ideals. The insane cost. The sketchy motives. The constant exhaustion. The numbing apathy. The questionable history. The family pressure. But since then, we have been making slow strides each year to reclaim it as our own — equal part increased spiritual awakening and equal part simple cultural family tradition.
This year, here are our intentional choices about the Christmas season!
November Anticipation: We have continued with our change to do all our Christmas shopping and Advent prep in November. It means we have the time to order things that we want to gift. We have everything wrapped. And we pick out our tree the weekend after Thanksgiving. We then say no to any and all consumer shopping in December (well, except for food or the rare random thing). Our weakness is we LOVE to give gifts, and the more I’m in stores the more I think “oh one more thing! one more thing!” when reality the first one is enough. Being in stores in December feeds our materialism-bent, so we instead take a shopping-fast-discipline during that time.
- Pro = It builds anticipation and sets up such a beautiful month of December, one specifically focused on peace and joy and awareness. It definitely saves us money. It’s good for our soul.
Gift Expectation Communication : We have respectfully asked family to give only one gift to each of our kids this year. Of course they are encouraged to spoil them throughout the year with other gifts, which allows for that love language to be a frequent fun event and not just one time of the year.
- Pro = They can be fully present with the one gift that is given to them and play with that with the giftgiver. They prior were each getting 20+ gifts PLUS multiple filled stockings– which were all given in love but all together was exhausting and excessive. It secondarily didn’t allow us (as their parents) to also bless them with gifts…and we want to love on our kids with gifts too!
Observing Advent : We do both adult readings, as well as our tradition with the kids. Last year us adults did Ann Voskamp’s “The Greatest Gift” (so good!). This year we are doing SheReadsTruth/HeReadsTruth Advent readings, as well as Timothy Keller’s new christmas book. We will do the “Jesus Storybook Bible” advent reading plan with the kids with some free coloring ornament print outs and hanging ornaments on the tree each night of advent.
- Pro = the importance of tradition within our family is not one we consider with much weight; however the limited things we do value as our “family culture”; this is one of them!
Keeping it Simple : Yes, we do what we can to keep things “Simple” feeling during this time of year. But we also enjoy being extravagant within those simple choices. We’re love “investing” in the experience of a real tree with special fair-trade ornaments. We love our family-culture of experiencing life together (skating, skiing) that is seasonal, and we equally make a priority to give away to those in true need both time, gifts, and prayer. We pick a few things for the year that we get excited about and focus on a few things. (We have a super fun idea from my friend Sarah about Christmas books! Can’t wait to show you later……)
- Pro = the trendy “simple life” obsession that is going on has so much good self-discipline within itself which is a great lifestyle to adopt. But we know that either extreme of simplicity or extravagance isn’t the point of life so we try to focus on our convictions and enjoy the season.
Accept the future Unknowns : We’re also really really OK with keeping this organic and flexible each year pending the kid’s age, our convictions, our resources, and our family dynamics. For example, we’d love to do stockings with our kids, but how and at what age? St.Nick Day is super interesting, maybe do stockings then? Do we do one simple gift, or do the classic “one you wear, want, need, read”? Do we gift experiences (ski pass)?
- Pro = keeping things flexible allows for the messy unknowns of real life.
I would love to know what Christmas this year looks like for your family!
And of course, we wish you happy holidays!! We will take a week or two off from blogging with our travels and continuing to live fully present in our days. Love you all!