I love this time of year. Crisper mornings, approaching holidays filled with family and friends. The time between Halloween and New Years’ is truly my favorite time of year.
With young children I’ve had many good intentions to start holiday traditions but have gotten lost in the rush of days in the shopping, decorating, and planning. Last year I was dreadfully sick through-out the season and cannot recall much of it. We were in survival mode at the time, clinging to the God of Comfort in the midst of pain and frailty of body. While I cannot claim illness will not repeat, I am hoping for a much more delightful season this year.
We are starting off well, at least. We have the ideas for the presents for the kids and hope in another week or two to begin gather those, wrapping them and stashing them. If we can get the majority of presents gathered then it takes that rush towards the end out of the equation. I’ve been making some gifts at home which has been both a money saver but also in a way an extender of the holidays. Every time I see my concoctions in the pantry it gets me thinking of the little packages they will be going in.
We are hoping this year to start a few new traditions. The first, is the elf. While The Elf on the Shelf has been around a while, I am going to go looking for just the elf. I love the idea of the mischievous elf doing something each night before Christmas, without emphasizing the whole “he’s watching you for Santa” part. I just think it will be a fun and memorable thing for my kids to make the days approaching Christmas as much fun as the actual day.
Along with that whole ‘stretch out the holidays’ mentality is the gathering of 25 verses that talk about Jesus’ birth, mission and sacrifice for my kids to make a Christmas chain with and read each day. Too often I get rushed into the Christmas Story found in the book of Luke and haven’t meditated or taught through some of the opportunities that this time brings to share Christ with my own kids.
The other we are starting is giving a gift to Jesus. Christmas has always been a big thing in my own family, oftentimes to the detriment of the next year’s finances. We’ve slowly cut back on the cost of the gifts for our children and I have spoken with them about using the money we save to purchase something for someone else. I got the idea here, and we plan on going with one of several companies that offer livestock animals to families around the world in need. A gift of clean water, immunizations, and a flock of ducks cost little but can mean the life and death of a family. My daughter is so excited at buying someone a duck she is saving her own money to be able to buy it. This is a glorious, God honoring thing that I want to build in our lives!
Hopefully, with these and a slower pace I can instill the kinds of holiday traditions that will cause us all to draw closer to God and closer to each other.