Tuesday, January 6, 2015

christmas day - celebrating JESUS and not ourselves

if i'm honest, i've been slow to write this post intentionally. for two reasons. one::it was the sweetest day and i just don't want it to be truly over. two::i worry about how people will take it...not people's opinions so much (i'm fine if people think we're crazy!) but more that you might think i think this could be the "right" way to do something. and i don't think that AT ALL. there is no RIGHT way to celebrate Christmas - every person, every family, figures that our for themselves. and once you figure it out, it might need to change! i just think you should always be open to change...if it draws you closer to God and to each other. don't be afraid to try something new if the way you've "always done it" isn't working well for you!

for christmas this year, the only gifts we opened were our gifts for Jesus. {click here for a full refresher on this tradition of ours}. the "gifts for Jesus" tradition continues to be such a sweet tradition for us and everyone was so excited to share what they "got" for Jesus...Levi bought a bike for a girl in India or Cambodia to be able to go to school - because he LOVES his bike and he can't WAIT to go to school :-). I gave a kit for a new mom and baby...in honor of my sister's baby that will be born this coming year!! each of us were blessed in the giving of these gifts.
i took the kids pictures with their gift the day before...when we wrapped them...

he hates pictures. but he spent the LONGEST on his wrapping. instead of wrapping that silver ribbon all the way around the box, he measured and cut each one separately...and then taped them on. precious.

i mean?!?!! the cuteness!!
i don't know how this thought entered my head, but earlier this fall, i thought it might be a good idea for us to consider. i feel like our christmas days are full of expectations and stress and busyness and exhaustion and rushing from one thing (gift, meal, etc) to the next. that's not how it should be. that's not how i want to celebrate Jesus' amazing rescue as He came to earth for US. i wanted christmas day to TRULY be about Him and not about us. at ALL. i knew i couldn't take away gifts entirely (i would be fine with it, but not anyone else ;-)) so i wondered what if we just did the stockings/gifts the morning AFTER christmas. in all the same ways...set up the stockings, have 3 gifts for each kid..but just do it all 24 hours later...so that we could spend christmas day celebrating Jesus in ways that brought Him honor? i brought it up to pat as we were ON THE PLANE on our way to Haiti (my timing isn't always the best. but i had to take advantage of the time we had together! :-)) he was NOT so sure. pat LOVES christmas and the gifts and all the STUFF as much as the kids. so i just stated my case and knew he'd need some time to think about it.

he did. and we decided we'd give it a try. we knew our kids might hate it. we knew we might not love it. but we thought it would be worth it to give it a shot. we told our kids about it early in december. they were not upset by it at all (??) which totally surprised us. after pat explained it (the man is GOOD with words...trust me!) they were like, "that makes sense! cool.") ok....???

so...christmas eve was that much more enjoyable because we didn't have to set up christmas gifts that night :-)

we slept in a bit (!!) and then made our usual BIG christmas morning breakfast. the kids enjoyed books and puzzles that they'd received the evening before and enjoyed the slow morning!

{she really was happy...just concentrating :-)}

the *star* of breakfast! monkey bread! :-)
then we did our final advent candle and reading of Jesus birthday!
then we ALL worked together to love OTHERS in a tangible way...we made cinnamon rolls and orange rolls from scratch. i had started the dough the day before...but we did the rest together. it was a MESS...and i'm not sure i can convince pat to do that again {he can't stand "mess"} but serving others in some way will for sure be a part of our christmas day going forward.

then we had cheese and crackers and fruit for lunch while we wrote cards to the missionaries we support. after lunch, we spent some time praying for each of them and then hung their pictures up on the world map in our game room. i had been meaning to do that for awhile...and this seemed like the perfect time!

then we all watched "national lampoon's christmas vacation" together. the kids had never seen it. it was fun to just be together...totally relaxed and enjoying the day. none of us were tired or stressed.
we even went for a walk together!
later in the afternoon, my family came over for dinner. we heated up the chipotle and made homemade tortillas to go with it. YUM!
then we did some minute to win it games. SO much fun. SO much laughter! :-)

the sounds he was making were hysterical!

it was an AMAZING day. we asked our kids how they felt about it 2 days later...so they would have time to experience the whole thing and process it a bit. they all LOVED it. said we should absolutely do christmas "that way" again. {pat liked it, too ;-)}

we had no idea how it would go. it felt risky for sure. but sometimes it takes risk and following your hearts leading to discover deeper and sweeter moments.


Jill said...

I have had this nagging in my heart about Christmas Day and have been unable to think or pray through how to make changes. (my suggestions for no gifts at all were met with resistance. ;) This is terrific food for thought and perhaps if I start the conversation now, we'll settle on a plan that is right for our family by next Christmas. ;) Thank you for sharing.

Courtney said...

wow! i have been waiting for this post! the last thing i remember you saying on IG on cmas eve was that the next day would be very different for your family. i love reading about this now! what a gift you've given them- your children, Pat and yourself. And what a gift you've given the Lord! This is just beautiful...I love that y'all celebrated this way.