A Different Sort of Christmas

Posted on December 21, 2011 by

For the first time since I can remember this Christmas season is one where I feel relaxed. There are myriad reasons for that I’m sure, not the least of which is that we have decided NOT to engage in the materialistic madness that saps the joy out of the holidays for so many people. Oh, our kids are getting gifts, but we’ve simplified our shopping and engaged in thoughtful contemplative gifts rather than just buying whatever is “hot’.

There are no parties planned this year, no elaborate meal preparations. Because we live close enough to our immediate family and friends, we will enjoy good times and fellowship, but without all the pressure. We had friends over last weekend to eat pizza and watch a movie. We will be going to the Christmas program at our church tonight. I’ll be cooking a Christmas dinner, and extending an open-ended invitation to anyone who feels inclined to stop by. When you’re cooking for a large family, you already have to cook a lot. I’ll just cook a little extra and if there’s anything left, it’ll just be an opportunity to get creative with the leftovers.

The most active part of our celebration will undoubtedly be Christmas afternoon, when we jump in the car and travel from house to house, dropping off gifts to nieces, nephews, god-children, siblings, and our parents. I think that will be fun rather than stressful, however. With the exception of our Christmas tree, we’re doing very little this year in the same way we’ve done it years past. When I stopped to think about it, it almost felt like something was missing because I wasn’t frantically running about, buying gifts, food, and decorations for the first two weeks of December. I mean, what kind of Christmas is it if I don’t have house full of people? If I’m not up cooking until the wee hours on December 24? If I don’t have 10 gifts per kid to wrap? I know what kind of Christmas it will be. It will be a peaceful one. And that’s okay.

We’ve had time to sit with our girls and share with them, in the word, the meaning of Emmanuel, God with us. In the past, there has usual been an obligatory reading of Luke chapter 2 right before they rip open their gifts to check out their loot. Not so, this year. We’ve really looked at the meaning of Christ’s invasion of time and space for the purpose of redeeming us. Before, there was no time. Between running here and there and every where, we just never got around to it. But it’s time to create new traditions. I want to pass on more to my girls than a tradition of shopping, shopping, and more shopping. I want them to know that it’s okay, even at Christmas, to stay home. It’s okay to hug your kids close, watch the Charlie Brown special, and clean your house simply for the people who live in it. It doesn’t mean that you’re a Scrooge. And it doesn’t mean that you don’t love your friends and family.

We need to make an effort to gather with our friends and family more than just on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Particularly if we live close enough (an hour’s drive or less, maybe) that we can do it without much hardship. The truth is in our family, we do spend time together throughout the year. Which is why I realized that it doesn’t make sense to wear myself out, dragging my babies all over town, braving the crowds of people, subjecting myself to the rudeness and long lines that are inevitable this time of year, to do something that I can do just about any time.

But for Christmas, we’re (mostly) staying in.

How is your family celebrating Christmas this year? What are your sacred tradition, old or new?

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