Maybe Christmas, he thought... doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps... means a little bit more! (_How the Grinch Stole Christmas_ by Dr. Suess)
In year's past, we have prepared with cookies and other things and celebrated Christmas for the whole month of December--mainly the preparing part. This year, we decided to try to keep gifts simple and prepare our hearts for remembering the Advent of Christ. We did an advent wreath on Sundays and, as much as our schedule allowed, kept up our Advent calendar. Eric found an Advent daily devotional that he read at dinner. I tried a different Advent devotional, though I probably should have focused on something else because after two weeks, the kids had memorized the Christmas story. In terms of preparing things, we limited the preparation to one day of decorating in early December and baking whatever cookies I could the week before Christmas, when we didn't have school activities. We just baked three different kids of cookeis, based on family preferences. As a family, we spent one night decorating gingerbread cookies and making a gingerbread house which was extra fun because my husband is such a goofball. On Christmas morning, the kids eagerly checked their stockings and then, more leisurely opened their gifts. The kids did not receive any toys from us--two of them are getting a little old for toys. However, everyone enjoyed the gifts we were given and a lot of thought went into many of the presents. Everyone received a surprise and we all got what we wanted. We spent the day hanging out together and getting the dinner ready.
1. I did not cry once in frustration or stress in trying to "do it all."
2. I did not "share" my stress with others because there was a lot less of it and between God and me, it was easily handled.
3. Post-present clean up was minimal and there was no extra work involved in trying to find room for things.
4. I felt the peace of God, which passes all understanding and made sure to pass it on to my family.
As an early Christmas present and confirmation to keep up the good work we started this Christmas, Elz came up to me on Christmas Eve and told me that this was the first year she really felt Jesus in our house. Mission accomplished.
"Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect." 1 Peter 1:17-19