Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Christmas Traditions

Our Christmas Tree and Stockings
I have been thinking a lot about Christmas traditions lately, probably because of all the posts I've been reading about them.
 
I've heard lots about Elf On The Shelf, making Christmas cookies, reading the Christmas Story, trips to grandma's, donating to charities, Christmas caroling, Christmas pageants and plays, etc.  All of these things can be wonderful things, but let's not get so busy that we forget the Reason behind the Season: Christ.
 
I read a post about being so caught up in tradition that you forget to stop and think about what's important.  We lose sight that this time of year is about being with family and friends and reflecting on Christ's birth and what He did for us.  We put so much pressure on ourselves to out-do last year present-wise, decoration-wise, food-wise, etc. or on just squeaking in those traditions that we just forget to stop and think about how it's not about getting or traditions or the commercialism...It's about loving and giving.
 
On Christmas Day (though most likely not December 25th like we celebrate), God gave His Son to us so that, one day, He could give His life for us (John 3:16, KJV).  Imagine how different this time of year would be if, instead of focusing on what we can get, we focused on what we could give because we've been blessed so much already and want to be a blessing.  Would be amazing, right?
 
What if we decided to make cookies for our neighbors or take a meal to someone in need?
 
What if we randomly filled up someone's gas tank?
 
What if we gave our treasured mittens or scarf to someone who obviously didn't have any?
 
What if we paid for someone else's meal or groceries?
 
What if we taught our children to give to others?
 
What if instead of teaching our kids "If you're good, Santa will...", we taught them "God wants us to love others, and this time of year is about His greatest gift to us, Jesus, so let's see what we can give to someone else in the spirit of giving"?
 
What if we focused on not the traditions, but the heart behind them?
 
Whether you realize it or not, each day you make new memories, some of which will form into precious traditions.  For example, this year I decided to do a 12 Days of Christmas {Goodies} link-up with my friend Stacey, and it's been a whole lot of fun, so we're planning on making it a yearly tradition.  The best part about it all has been showcasing other's amazing posts (you really must pop on over there and see what some people have linked up - AMAZING! - and feel free to add your own post if you're so inclined) and being able to have giveaways with it.  You just don't know how much I'm looking forward to our feature day and when we announce the giveaway winners!  I haven't been able to contribute much (Stacey has been able to make more of it happen than I ever could, and I think she's all kinds of amazing for it - Thank you, Stacey!), but even having the small part of it that I've had has been a blessing beyond words!
 
Another tradition we have is that the boys get to do a LEGO Advent Calender.  This is one of their favorite traditions that started because their aunt wanted to do something great for them on a Christmas where we didn't know if we'd even have presents other than that Advent Calendar.  It's an amazing gift from her that reminds me every time they open those little toys just how good God was that year as well as how good He is now.
 
We have also made it a tradition of taking goodies to our neighbors.   This is a tradition that warms my heart.  We don't get to chat with our neighbors often due to we all have our own lives, but this is the time of year that we can let them know that we enjoy having them as neighbors, even if things aren't always perfect, and that we care about them.  It does wonders for morale. :)
 
When we can, we also try to do something for our doctor's office.  One year we donated books, one time we donated lollipops for the kiddos to get after their visit, sometimes we make cookies or other treats for the doctors and staff, but we always try to do at least cards for the doctors.  We think it's important that they know how much we appreciate all they do for us.
 
All these traditions started out of a giving heart on someone's part.  They are traditions that, when we do them, we can talk about how they started and why.  They weren't forced out of guilt or forged out of pity, they were just done to be a blessing...and that's how I pray they will stay.
 
When my middle child brought home a slip to fill out for his wish-list for the class present-exchange, I almost got upset.  I know, it's a silly thing to get upset about, but I just didn't like that the focus was going to be on "What can I get?"  I know the teacher well, and I know she is one of the sweetest women in the world and that that was not her intention at all, so don't get me wrong here.  I know she just wants the kids to have an amazing Christmas party.  However, there was part of me that wondered why it had to be that way with the gift-exchange.  Why couldn't they do another type of party?  Why couldn't they participate in Toys For Tots or bring in non-perishable food stuffs for a family in need or write letters of thanks to our troops or any number of other things along those lines?  Why can't we take this time of year to teach our kids about being a blessing instead of about getting?
 
I guess because the burden lies on us as parents.  We have the job to teach gratefulness and gratitude.  We have the job of teaching our kids that it is more blessed to give than to receive.  Hard lessons to teach because we ourselves sometimes struggle with this very idea.  We get selfish, too.
 
Now, I'm not against gifts.  I'm all for presents.  I like to get with the best of them.  But I do think that I need to remember, especially this time of year, just how blessed I already am, just how rich I am in family and in Christ, and just how much I can do for others to be a blessing that will do my heart a world of good.
 
Let me challenge you, in the midst of your traditions, in the midst of your go-go-go, rush-rush-rush, to take a moment to stop and reflect on the "why" of the season.  Step back and evaluate why you do what you do.  Maybe it's time to take away a few of those traditions.  Maybe it's time to add a few more.  Whatever you decide, do it for the right reasons and in the right way and do it to the glory of God.
 
May you have an amazing holiday season!


Thankful Thursday on There's Just One Mommy
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4 comments:

  1. Love the idea of a tradition where you give back this time of year! We started doing shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child this year. And as I've just cleaned out a bunch of unwanted mittens and hats and a few jackets, I am looking for a place to donate them.
    Thanks for linking up!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by!

      That sounds like an awesome idea! I hope you find the perfect home for them. :)

      Always a pleasure to link-up with you.

      Take care!

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  2. Love, love, love this post! I've been doing LEGO Advent calendars for my son for years. This year's Star Wars is a particular favorite. (My daughter prefers Littlest Pet Shop or Barbie, but this year she has a different LEGO one as well) We've been taking more time this season than ever to reflect on the "why"...and I have to say it's felt like one of the happiest and most peaceful holiday seasons we've had in a long time. The usually "hurry hurry" anxiety hasn't been present. I don't think that's a coincidence!!

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    1. I agree; not a coincidence! :) It does make a difference to know the why, doesn't it?

      Thanks for stopping by and taking time to comment!

      Oh, and our boys got the Star Wars one, too, and the City one (one they bought and one from their aunt). Can't wait for my little miss to be old enough to care about it all because I so want her to get the LEGO Friends one...it's too cute! :)

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