November 27, 2011

Gonna Advent like it's... the First Noel?

I spent most of the week commenting to extended family about my disgust with the stores opening on Thanksgiving in some areas.  I thought that we should have a full 24 hours of giving thanks for what we had before succumbing to greed.  I spent Black Friday hanging with family and relaxing, totally uninterested in the "deals" I am missing.  However, before you comment on how holy I am, let me tell you that I spent all the time immersed in family and not spending a whole lot of time with God.  This puts me in the same category with the "pagans" and "superficial Christians" lusting after Black Friday deals for things that they may or may not need (and I put  electric cupcake makers in the "do not need" category).

Now, the Advent season is upon us, part of the Christian Christmas tradition in one of the two big holidays Christians celebrate that relate directly to Christ.  In years past, I have busied myself with cooking traditional Christmas cookies, having parties, trying to buy the perfect gift for family without maxing out the credit card and making merry with many different people every day from Thanksgiving to Christmas Day, taking a few days rest, and then having one last party on New Years Eve.  This year, however, will be different.  This year, I will try to put the focus on Jesus, who made a tremendous sacrifice just to take on human flesh and wait to celebrate his birth until the actual day.  Here is my plan:
  • It starts with actually spending time devoted to God, remembering what He has done to make us right with Himself.  Having time to do this means that a lot of the things I tried to do weeks before Christmas will be done days before Christmas, like baking Christmas cookies and breads, having fewer get-togethers before Christmas.
  • Spend more time with the kids doing fun things that they want rather than running around stores.
  • My husband and I have also decided to spend less money on stuff this year for the kids and each other because things don't make us happy.  However, I am figuring out how to wrap non-material gifts that I think the kids will appreciate.  
  • Some of the money we would have spent on items that just clutter up our house will be given to a charity, because Jesus came to serve, not to be served.  
  • Have one final family Epiphany celebration
All of these ideas are not really my own and they are not new.  The seeds were planted several years ago by The Advent Conspiracy and it has taken years of making baby steps and trying different things before this year's plan is being put into action.  And the really cool thing about all of this is that God is moving in my husband, too to want to change, so that we are moving together and not pulling in opposite directions.  And while some people may think I am getting all Scroogey, I think this will be a more joyful holiday than in the past for everyone involved because the overall stress level will be much lower.


November 24, 2011

Happy Thanskgiving

Dear God,

Thank you so much for the family you have given me and the incredible love they have shown me.  Thank you for helping me show love to them, both who are easy to love and those who are difficult, so that we know how much You love us, Your Difficult Children.  Thank you so much for all the friends you have brought my way to encourage me and challenge me and help me laugh.  Thank you for the brothers and sisters in Christ with which You have surrounded me, showing me that your Spirit can make family where there are no blood ties.  I praise you for the wonderful way you have made us and all of creation and how You care for us daily, whether we acknowledge you or not.  Please forgive me for not spending more time with You, the one who consistently loves me perfectly and never lets go or walks away from me.

All my love,