|Atticus totally loving meeting Santa last year|
As is Thanksgiving, which is actually probably my actual favorite holiday. We've talked extra about thankfulness in our family the past few weeks, and that, among other things - including this blog post and wisdom from my friend Mandy - has convicted about how our family will spend the Christmas season.
Christmas could easily be a time to just kind of give up on convictions and throw in the towel in our fight against our culture until the New Year, when it's logical to rebuild, resolve, reorganize . . . But I think I would rather use the time we celebrate Jesus' coming to save us to work harder at being the kind of people we want to be, and let it carry us into the New Year. I was totally inspired by Mandy's sharing with me that they only get each of their kids one Christmas gift, and that she already had her Christmas shopping done and wrapped - and this conversation was in October! Those thoughts were really what got me thinking about making some changes to how we spend the Christmas season. Later she sent me these words:
I guess what I am trying to say is be who you are the rest of the year in December, maybe just a little more, a bit more intentionally and you don't have to worry so much about what you DON'T do . . . Be the person you want your kid to be . . . Take back Christmas in your own heart . . . everything you do will be infused with Jesus because that is how you live your life the other days of the year.So, I guess my goal is, during Christmas, to be the person I want to be I was the rest of the year, instead of the stressed, too-much-pressure-on-myself, not-much-thought-into-things version of myself. And not because I want to be hypocritical and perfect-y and look good to everyone else, but to remind myself and my family of what's important to us as we celebrate Jesus and start a new year.
So I made an advent calendar. I couldn't find one to my liking that combined everything we love/need to do: sing, learn, do fun things, and share Jesus with people [the only thing it's missing is a reading of 'A Christmas Carol', but I think we'll just add that as our family grows in number and comprehension level]. So here it is, if anyone else was looking for something similar. I plan to use my BFFs Hot Glue Gun and Glue Stick to make numbers to attach to our tree [using the cute pdf here] with activities on the back.
A couple explanations:
- I love Santa. I believed in him until I was 11. Legitimately. From Santa I learned that hope is worthwhile [and how to deal with disappointment!], that fun and magical things are ok even as you get older, and that it's possible to have him as part of the anticipation of Christmas without taking the focus off of Jesus. Some people disagree; I hope to have him as a balanced and appropriate and fun part of our family's celebration like my parents made for my brother and me growing up, and teach our kid[s] the same lessons I learned. Part of what we're adding to our Santa tradition is him sending our family a letter at Thanksgiving with instructions to use a sum of money to give to others [outside of our normal gift-giving]; this is what Day 1 refers to. Got the idea from the Jen Hatmaker post and their giving their kids 'something to give' and the story of St. Nicholas.
- I grew up partially in the Czech Republic, where King Wenceslas is a big deal. So there's a day devoted to his story and his carol. Plus it's about being blessed by being a blessing to others.
- I owe Henry Wadsworth Longfellow an apology; I've always said I couldn't handle his poetry, mostly because of 'Song of Hiawatha'. However, I forgot he wrote 'I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day' [and started reading an old volume of his before bed - how have I gone to college and taught English without ever encountering 'A Psalm of Life' before now?! Read it.], one of my favorite carols. So he's included in the calendar too, and I take back all I ever said about him.