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I have been looking on Pinterest for Christmas ideas.
This can be a very good and productive endeavor.
Or it can make me want to hide under my bed until December 26th.
There are the Elf on the Shelf and the daily antics, there are the beautiful decorations, there are the gorgeous outdoor light displays, there are the delicious recipes, there are the crafty, homemade gift ideas…
It’s all so amazing to me and makes me want to be a better person, but at the end of the day I mostly just pin stuff and think about it for awhile and then decide that throwing some Christmas lights over the mountain of laundry piled on the dining room table is festive enough.
Our elf hasn’t even come to visit yet because I am paralyzed by the thought of being committed to moving him creatively every. single. night (even though I have a post HERE featuring 24 super easy and fun ideas).
But when you think about it, what do you remember most about Christmas when you were little?
It probably wasn’t the 15,000 Christmas cards your mom wrote or the glamorously wrapped presents under the tree or the Pinterest-perfect crafts or the massive Christmas party with 200 homemade appetizers.
It was the smaller things.
The simple things.
I remember cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning (and they were from the can).
I remember opening my stocking.
I remember that Santa ate all the cookies we had left out for him.
I remember jumping on my parents’ bed at 6 in the morning and then that year my older brother did bugle calls on his trumpet at 5 (you’re welcome, Mom and Dad).
I remember my dad praying before we opened our gifts.
I remember the way the church glowed at the candlelit service on Christmas Eve as we sang Silent Night and raised our candles in reverent worship.
The simple things.
This year I’m trying to let go of all the ‘Pinterest Pressure’ and have decided to narrow my focus for Christmas and our family to 2 things –
1. Do things that celebrate Jesus.
2. Do things that share His love.
Our Elf on the Shelf might not make it out this year if I’m not feeling it. We might not make it to every single party. I might not make homemade ornaments for the family. The adorable Christmas party favors I want to make for all the kids in my boys’ classes will probably never happen. Noah might not get the chocolate advent calendar because I can’t find them anywhere – lol.
And that’s ok.
But here are 12 simple things that fall under the umbrella of my focus for this magical season that our little family is hoping to do in the coming days…
Happy Birthday Jesus Cake and Celebration
Birthday boy gets a special cake and small party every year at our house. My favorite part is when we sing to Him. HERE is a super neat birthday cake recipe we use that is not only easy to make, but also shares the Gospel. And it is delicious.
Make Dinner for Our Pastor’s Family
I love our pastor and his family. His wife was hugely instrumental in my survival of Jethro’s birth and the journey we have been on with his health (see his story HERE). She texted me Bible verses every single morning during his hospitalization and she cried with me more than once. They are true warriors of the faith and spend so much time serving our congregation. December brings a lot of extra events and responsibilities and needs in their world so I like to help by giving them a night off from the necessary burden of feeding 5 people. I think I will make THIS recipe and kill 2 birds with 1 stone.
Play With Our Nativity
My mom bought us the Fisher-Price Little People Nativity (affiliate link) set a few years ago and it is my favorite Christmas toy. This year I bought the Melissa & Doug Classic Wooden Christmas Nativity Set for my classroom and I love that one just as much. I make a point to sit with my kids and play with the nativity with them. It brings around some sweet and thoughtful conversation about Jesus. We also like to play some of THESE nativity games.
Attend Christmas Eve Services
I cannot think of anything more precious than the worshipful, joyous, holy, reverent atmosphere of a candlelit Christmas Eve service. I like to invite a few neighbors and unchurched friends to join us. O come, let us adore Him. <3
Sing Christmas Carols With and Over My Kids
As soon as Thanksgiving dinner has ended I start breaking out my Christmas CDs. I especially love Hillsong’s We Have a Savior album. I also love climbing into bed with my boys, holding them close and singing Silent Night over their darling hearts as they drift off to sleep. Have you ever really paid attention to the lyrics of some of the carols out there? AMAZING. O Holy Night slays me. These songs carry a rich heritage of our faith. I want to surround my kids with these truths all December long.
Pass Out Candy Canes With the Candy Cane Gospel
Christmas naturally lends itself to opportunities to share the Good News. I like to use THIS FREE Printable tag, attach it to candy canes and drop them off with people we come across throughout the day. The bank teller, the grocery store cashier, a neighbor’s mailbox, teachers, Starbucks barista, etc.
Remember the Hubs
I think it’s easy to get so focused on buying gifts and making things magical for our children that we forget the men in our lives. And if you really want to honor Jesus, then pay careful attention to your precious marriage. I try really hard to get my husband a present for Christmas that will really bless him. I also like to use THESE FREE Printable Christmas Love Notes as silly reminders throughout the month that I love him. But the thing that I think blesses my husband the most in this season is when I don’t spend a lot of money, don’t walk around a giant stress ball, and I make an effort to not put a lot of extra expectations on him. Like whatever gift he gets me, I will love it. Even if it’s a Dust Buster.
Stick to 3 Gifts
If it’s good enough for Jesus, then it’s good enough for my kids! We give our boys 3 gifts each – like the Wise Men brought Christ. It helps us stick to a budget and it is another reminder of the purpose behind our present sharing.
Pray Around the Christmas Tree on Christmas Morning
I wrote about this sweet tradition HERE. It made a big impact on me growing up and I have been carrying on this tradition in my own home ever since. Joining hands on Christmas morning and giving thanks as a family to the One who made the whole celebration possible in the first place is exactly where God wants our hearts to be.
Meet a Need
Our church participates in a toy drive for a local non-profit organization committed to providing homes and resources for kids in crisis situations. Last Sunday Noah picked a card off a tree in the Fellowship Hall that said a little boy’s age and a toy he would like. We will go to Target together to pick it out. I want my boys to find the true joy of Christmas in the giving rather than in the getting.
Read the Christmas Story (over and over and over again)
We will take the time to really dig into the story of Jesus’ birth this month. We do this in a variety of ways. We read it from the Bible and in different children’s Bibles. We use THESE FREE Printable Advent Scripture Cards and THESE FREE Printable Nativity Story Cards. I also have a bunch of Christ-centered Christmas books (see HERE) that we read before bed each night. Anything to capture their imaginations point our hearts to the true Hero of the season.
The hustle and bustle and ‘noise’ of Christmas can interfere with our ability to truly experience the gift of His presence. I recently became so tangled up in material possessions and Christmas gifts that I didn’t allow room for my Savior. Sound familiar? Making room for the Savior involves choosing to not be swept up in the ideals our world presents as necessary and finding the peace He offers in the reality.
Last week Noah mentioned to me that all he wanted for Christmas was a football helmet…
And to hold baby Jesus.
I think he is on to something.
So crawl out from under the bed of busy and climb into the manger next to that precious Child Who this season is all about.
And that is better than anything Pinterest has to offer.