It has been a busy few weeks here and my computer time has been limited – so my posts have been pretty sporadic. I chuckled when I read the first sentences of another blog writer’s post, “One of my fans gently chastised me for not posting anything for over a month. Apparently she and my other fan have discussed the lack of posts and both have been disappointed.” (Thanks Jennifer Thompson for the reminder to get back to posting!) Anyway, if you enjoy reading my reflections of imperfection here, I am sorry to be so uncommitted lately – I guess it’s just a classic sign of my imperfection!
Have you been busy? This is definitely a hectic time of year. What do you do to make this an enjoyable time focused on “Christmas” and not focused on to do lists and shopping lists? I thought I’d share some things we do in our home to make Christmas special.
1. Our Christmas tree skirt. Setting up the tree is always a little crazy. As a mom, you have visions of how sweet it should be – christmas music playing in the background, cups of hot cocoa, everyone wearing a nice Christmas sweater, the nostalgic feeling as everyone gathers around and admires the ornaments before placing them on the tree – beautifully spaced of course. Well that’s not what it looks like in my house. Yes, there’s Christmas music in the background, but that’s the end of the vision. With 3 boys, it becomes a competition of who has the most ornaments – which somehow my 5-year-old has more than my 7-year-old so that was a problem. And of course, they all want their ornaments at the top of the tree, so they are all clumped together. I try to get pictures – but they are not usually smiling – they are more determined. But then it’s time for the skirt – and they slow down.
When my oldest was 1, I saw an idea in Parent’s magazine. To take a plain tree skirt and put handprints on it. Since my mother in law could sew and has made tree skirts before, I asked her to make me one. So now we have a tree skirt with 10 years worth of handprints on them. Each year, we put new ones on.
They love to find their old handprints and compare sizes. It slows the boys down long enough to reflect on our family and how we have grown. It really is a special time. And then the paint comes out and being boys, it splatters all over. The handprints usually turn out sloppy and messy and really it’s not a “pretty” skirt. But we love it!
2. Our Nativity – I love my Nativity set. I forget who makes it, but my mom bought it for me before we had children. Usually the boys help me set it out and we can talk about who all the “characters” are. We don’t put the baby in the manger yet though. I wrap it up like a present. And then we set it out Christmas morning with a note to open that present first. That way on Christmas morning, before everyone starts tearing into their gifts, we remember to take a moment and think on what Christmas is really about.
3. Advent Tree – this year we are starting a new tradition. At a friend’s house we made an advent tree. Her family had one growing up and it was one of her favorite traditions, so she wanted to share it with others. Basically, she cut out a large felt tree and we glued it on to a piece of fleece (she had pre-sewn the fleece edges and rolled the top so that it could be hung). She created various shapes for the ornaments and drew them on paper. She then wrote a number (1-25) on each shape along with a bible verse reference. We cut the paper shapes out, glued them onto matching felt shapes and decorated them.
Now, each night at dinner, we take out the next ornament, read the Bible verse which goes through the Christmas story and then hang the ornament on the tree with safety pins. I love that instead of getting a piece of chocolate from an advent calendar, they are hearing the Christmas story. And again – it’s not necessarily the prettiest decoration we have, but they all helped make it. I love it!
So, those are some things we do in our home to prepare for Christmas. Some things to help us slow down, to not get all crazy and to really reflect on what this time of year is about: family, friends and most importantly God. God, not being a distant, uncaring God. But God, loving his creation so much, that He came to earth in the lowly form of a baby, to dwell with his creation, to be Emmanuel – God with us. So, as you go through your to do lists and to buy lists in these remaining 2o days before Christmas, I’m praying that you will find time too, time to slow down with your family and friends and ponder the miracle of Christmas.