Christmas is Coming...

I have shared here before about how I am looking for ways to tangibly enter into and experience the church seasons. I shared some ways I plan on doing that for Advent and I wanted to share with you some of the ideas and thoughts I am having about Christmas.

We’ve all heard the song The 12 Days of Christmas, but honestly I didn’t really know until recently that the Christmas season is actually 12 days long starting on December 25th and lasting until Epiphany on January 6th. It makes sense to me that such a significant celebration as that which remembers the incarnation of the God of the universe should last for more than just a day. So, this year I would like to really celebrate for all 12 days. I’m still figuring out what that will look like but here are a few ideas that my friend, Tara, shared with me:

  • On the 25th they aren’t going to give any gifts and instead they will have a family time of remembering and celebrating Jesus birth. Then they will give each child one gift on each of the next 11 days of Christmas.
  • Last year they wrapped up 12 Christmas books and the family opened one on each of the 12 days of Christmas.
  • They are going to place the 3 wise men from their nativity on the other end of the house and each day of Christmas move them a little closer to the nativity until they “arrive” at the nativity on January 6th, Epiphany.

I love these ideas so much and really appreciate Tara’s creativity and heart for engaging authentically in the seasons of the Church calendar. So, Bryan and I have been talking about what things make sense for us to do as a unique couple, in the situation and place and time that we currently find ourselves. I think I have also been convicted lately by the ridiculous amount of money that gets spent on Christmas gifts which so often wind up broken or forgotten within a matter of weeks.

Here’s a great and challenging video from Advent Conspiracy dealing with that topic:

That video makes me get all choked up every time I watch it. So, along those lines here are some ways we have been talking about entering into the real soul of the Christmas season this year:

  • One idea we had was to give something to someone each of the 12 days of Christmas. That might mean making a meal for someone who needs it, or donating to a charity (like Living Water, or spending time volunteering, or something else. Basically just giving something of ourselves, above and beyond the norm, on each of the 12 days of Christmas. This would be a way for us to remember how much God gave and gave up for us through his incarnation.
  • Another idea we had was asking that others who would normally give us gifts for Christmas (our parents, grandparents, etc.) donate to a charity of our choosing instead. This was sounding like a really good idea up until our own financial situation got so tight recently. Now I’m thinking that some really practical gifts from parents and grandparents are sounding pretty good. But, honestly then I remember that even with things being tight for us right now, so many people have it so much worse than us and I think that even the things that I “need” right now I don’t really need.
  • We have also talked about telling our friends and family that we won’t be giving any Christmas gifts this year or that we will just be making very simple homemade gifts. I have started going to a knitting group recently and so making simple scarves and that sort of thing for family is most likely the most we will give anyone this year.
  • We have also decided that we won’t give each other gifts this year, or at least not anything that costs money.

Over all, Bryan and I have been in agreement that we want to spend less this year, give more, and also really engage in the full season of Christmas. We still aren’t sure what that will look like for us this year, but those are just a few ideas that we have been bouncing around. I am really excited about some of these ideas and feel like they fit well with where we are at right now and what God is currently calling us to, but I do have some hesitation and fear that I have recently noticed as I have thought through these ideas.

Bryan and I will be alone for Christmas and if we don’t give each other gifts and ask others not to give us any gifts, well, then how will Christmas be really any different than any other day? I love the idea of downsizing Christmas, of not spending as much and giving to charities instead. But, honestly, the thing that really makes Christmas special is first of all being with family and the second thing that seems to make Christmas stand out from just a normal family dinner is giving gifts to those you love and watching them open them and also getting gifts from people who love you and feeling loved through their giving. Maybe that sounds bad and just reveals the consumerist mindset that I have bought into, but really the question I have found myself asking lately is what can we do now to make Christmas special, unique, different from a normal day and dinner, different from even a normal dinner party (if we choose to be with friends here on Christmas)? And how do we make all 12 of those days special, and festive and truly celebratory?

Those are the questions that I have been thinking about lately… so, anyone have any ideas? I’d love to hear what you and your family are doing for Christmas this year and how you are engaging in the birth of Christ.

Rejoicing in the journey - Bethany