It crept up on me without me really realizing it until the reality was that I dreaded Christmas. The closer we got to Thanksgiving the more overwhelmed I felt. As a child, I loved Christmas and looked forward to it all year long. As a young mom I loved sharing that joy and anticipation with my own kids. However, over the years, our Christmas celebrations became an entity unto themselves – full of what felt like demands, a behemoth, demanding attention, money and time more and more so that eventually, I could not keep up.
We all want to bless our children. We want to give them a ‘magical’ Christmas experience, presents that will knock their socks off and memories to last a life time. What do we do when our Christmas celebrations take over and we are left struggling to keep up, counting the days until Christmas is over rather than counting the days until one of the greatest opportunities to worship God comes?
Over the nex 5 Mondays, I will be writing about ways that I have learned to pace myself during the holidays, to savor the moments and truely enjoy the season, my family and yes, even the traditions that fill my days. Making Christmas Meaningful is a matter of letting go of worldly expectations and resting in the perfect place that God has you for this season – putting our focus on the things that really mattter.
As simple as this sounds, it is not always easy. Each Monday through December I’ll post a reminder to refocus, relax and hopefuly restore your joy in this celebratory season.
Making Christmas Meaningful: Finding Focus
So here we are, the first week of December, which is also the first week of Advent. Advent is traditionally the four weeks prior to Christmas. The word advent actually means coming. This is a time to prepare our hearts and minds for the celebrations of Christmas Day.
Finding a way to focus your heart and mind on the true meaning of Christmas will fill the gaps that finding a great deal and a beautifully decorated home will not.
Advent Resources to Focus on the True Meaning of Christmas
Since I was a child we have prepared for Christmas by following a Jesse Tree Devotional. Jesse was the father of David to whom God promised that his line and his sons and his family would be King forever. When they turned from God and it seemed a hopeless case, God said, “Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.” Isaiah 11:1, 10
And isn’t this what Christmas is all about? The unfathomable hope that we receive from our trust in God and His Word that provide us a way out of our hopelessness and sorrow and draws us, totally unworthy, into the light of His presence.
There are many Advent devotions (daily meditations on the meaning of Christmas) that you and your family can enjoy. As we enter the oftentimes busy season of Christmas, there are a lot of things that pull us from here to there. Find a way to focus yourself and the attention of your kids on the true meaning of Christmas every day. More than a countdown to presents but a filling of hope and joy so that on Christmas morning, the real reason cause to celebrate.
Some of our favorite advent resources (contains affiliate links):
A free printable resource for the older set. I like to use this for my personal devotions and then teach it, using the printable Jesse Tree Ornaments, at the level of my kids. Has a heavy focus on prophecy that will radically enhance your understanding of the meaning of Christmas.
Truth in the Tinsel is designed for hands on learning for the younger set.
Daily readings take you on the journey of young Jotham as he travels across Israel searching for his family. His story ends as he finds his way to the Savior born n Bethlehem.
Second in the series, the story of Bartholomew is full of adventure as a young boy traveling through Israel. An excellent account of life at the time of Jesus’ birth. Lots of lessons on faith in action.
Tabitha is traveling with her family and meets Bartholomew and Jotham along the way. Her journey takes her to spend some time with Zechariah and Elizabeth and ends at the stable in Bethlehem.
Disclaimer: For some reason, we have never been able do even the shortest of devotions every day during the season. I am done beating myself up for this (kind of ranks up there with library fines – they happen – get over it!) You will likely miss days and that is okay. Make the effort and do what you can.
As you go about your week, planning and preparing for Christmas, be filled with the promises of hope and salvation, that God purposed from the beginning of time, and let that truth settle you and bless you through the busy days and weeks ahead.
Enough is a Feast: Finding Contentment in the Simple Things
Evaluating Christmas Traditions for a More Meaningful Christmas
Prophecies of the Messiah: A Study of the Amazing Prophecies of Jesus’ Life