Simple. Focused. Intentional.
That is our motto for this time of year.
If you want bunches of ideas for celebrating Christmas, you should probably go to Pinterest. We are more about cutting out a lot of the hoopla -- going for special and memorable (yes) but simple. It is Jesus' birthday; so, we focus on Advent and then throwing a birthday party for Jesus. Simple as that. However, we will be going to stay with extended family over the Christmas week this year, so we will not be hosting our own Christmas at our home. Yet, here is what we have been doing so far this month:
[edited version of last year's Advent post]
Devotions: Advent is where I put most of our emphasis, because what is this holy-day about if we do not prepare our hearts waiting for the Christ-child to come? You can see our Advent wreath (carved out of wood, with 24 candle holes, and there's a movable donkey carrying Mary). We light the candle after moving it forward. This year, we are using the wonderful Truth in the Tinsel book for our Advent celebration each day. We read the selected Bible passage, listen for clues, read a short paragraph, hang an Advent ornament on our "Advent tree" (all together, the ornaments chronologically and pictorially share the birth story), let our toddler blow out the "fire" (candle), and add another link to a paper chain.
Decorations: Most noticeably, we do not have a Christmas tree. We are not against them; we just chose (for several reasons) not to erect one. We have other items (ornaments, stockings, nativity sets...) hanging around. We have our Christmas books propped up and keep the Christmas music playing. Also, I made a winter spice aroma spray (we replaced the ginger with nutmeg) that I spritz around our home for that warm, pleasant scent (or I run the diffuser). Also, we simply hang the Christmas cards we receive on ribbon with clothespins! Then, when the season is over and it comes time to take them down, we will pray for the person/family that sent each card as we remove it :)
Treats: I picked out three desserts, one for each weekend in December until we leave. Ricky made a homemade caramel popcorn. Our friend made a cherry cobbler (top with vanilla ice cream), and another friend came over to make cupcakes (alterations: we used sucanat for the sugar and whole wheat flour for all of the flour it called for, and added shredded coconut and dark chocolate chips on top) for Micaiah's first birthday this past weekend. Also, my mom is going to make a dessert for Jesus' birthday bash Christmas morning.
Presents: As a family, we are not going to exchange presents amongst ourselves, but we did get/make small presents for our extended families and friends (I will post later what these gifts were). We are not against gift-giving amongst friends and family, but we choose to give a gift as a family to Jesus (see Matthew 25:45) for His birthday -- just keeping it simple. This year, we bought a village outreach pack for a believer/evangelist in Nigeria, through Voice of the Martyrs.
CHRISTmas joy to you in your celebrations and preparation for the coming of the King,