Thank you for stopping by my blog.

I write day after day because I discover extraordinary lessons from ordinary life experiences. I record my visual portraits of everyday life filled with something sacred in hopes that my reflections might bring an insight that blesses my readers.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Stop Stuffing Christmas

Stuffing Christmas into a Jar

I hear busyness. I see bustling. I recognize that so many folks are in a hurry up mode. They are busy trying to push all the Christmas celebrations into a jar. Push, push, push; get that list for today completed and go to the next list. Somehow, I just don’t think the Advent season is meant to be so “pushy”. How can we slow it down and make it meaningful?

First, does everyone need several gifts? Wouldn’t one needed or wanted gift be more significant? Most children get gifts from grandparents, siblings, and aunts and uncles, so that number climbs naturally. When we decided to limit our gifts to one nice one, or two medium priced items like a book or a favorite CD, my stress decreased immensely. I remember sitting down with hubby and saying, “We just don’t need to buy so many gifts. Our extended family of cousins gets so much." More is not Christmas. More turns into selfishness. That  year was one of the nicest holidays ever. We talked to cousins and sisters and asked them to take us off their gift list. They seemed surprised but relieved. Why? It simplified their Christmas too. We did this about fifteen years ago, and we have never missed those extra gifts. We gained family time, more game playing , and time to drink tea and listen to the powerful words of carols. Most important, we had more money to share with our "adopted" Christmas family.

Second, I incorporated cookie exchanges in my life. This was just an easy fix. I made one kind of cookie and shared. The other ladies did the same. We had a delightful assortment and wonderful fellowship. I still enjoy giving cookies to the neighbors and am not opposed to mixing a few store bought wedding cookies and chocolates to make my plates a little more decorative. Instead of spending hours decorating cut out sugar cookies, I turned it into a family contest. I make the cookies ahead and put them in the freezer. Then, when all the family arrives , we have the master decorator hour. In a little over an hour, those cookies are iced and decorated and a “best decorated cookie” award and a “most creative” award is announced. We have neighbors that help in the judging. Of course, younger participants are given extra points.

Third, I take time early in the morning to read a Christmas story, poem, or reflect on a few Bible verses. I actually read those Christmas gift books. I try to imagine how I would have felt on Christmas morn in war times. I imagine how uncomfortable Mary must have been riding a donkey on a cold night. I ponder how and why the wise men pursued the Christ child. This beginning thought of the day infiltrates my thinking all day. I like that. I am realizing what Christmas is, what happened two thousand years ago, and contemplating what my granddaughters' Christmas will look like in fifteen years. These thoughts create plenty of prayer material.

Just those three adjustments have made the season peaceful. I still have time to visit shut ins, make special cards for loved ones, bake our sons' favorite cookie recipe,or take time for yoga and walking. Slowing down the pace of Christmas actually gives me more time. I sing these words, " Son of God, Love's pure light. Radiant beams from thy holy face, with the dawn of redeeming grace, Jesus, Lord, at thy birth, Jesus, Lord at thy birth." If I take time to seek the King, I too discover the radiant grace.

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