Last year, I really wanted to begin to celebrate Advent as a family. We decided to do reading each night at dinner to prepare our hearts and to anticipate Christ's coming. Christmas is such a miraculous time. God came as a man to be our friend, brother and Savior. Thinking of Christ has a baby makes him so very human to me and makes the story of his life, death and resurrection so profound. We watched the Nativity Story movie a few nights before Christmas and will do that again this year. It will move you to see these people you have read about since your childhood actually depicted as real people with real emotions and stories.
Andy and I spent our first Christmas together while we were engaged. Since we were spending so much money on our wedding, honeymoon and getting our house set up we chose to do one small gift each for Christmas. That worked well, so we did the same thing last year. One gift with a very reasonable price limit. Between the two of us we have a decent number of people to buy gifts for. I was hustling and bustling to get it done last year when I read Ann VosKamp's "Thinking About Whose Birthday It Is." I was ruined. I knew that this was how our little family was supposed to celebrate the birth of our blessed Jesus. We were suppose to forgo luxuries for ourselves to give to people who do not even have necessities.
We are very fortunate to have everything that we need. As are our families. Both of our families enjoy buying gifts for each other and are very generous at Christmas. For Christmas this year, and hopefully for years to come, all of the gifts we are giving and receiving a for Jesus. He has told us that when we give to the least of these that we give to him, so that is the way we want to celebrate His birthday. We have made a list of charities that we will be donating to and asked our families that if they would like to give us a gift to donate to one of these or a charity of their choice. A few of our favorites are: Show Hope, Covenant Mercies, Blood Water Mission, Hope Resource Center, International Justice Mission and Bethany Christian Services.
Let me just say, this is a really hard mental and emotional shift. For months, I have seen things that I want in stores or on-line and thought,"I will ask for that for Christmas." OR "I want to get that for Andy for Christmas." It will take some time to undo my 31 prior Christmases, but I know that this is the right thing for our family and I am excited to be taking the big step to making it a reality for us. Sacrificing for others is always worth it in the end. Truly I do not need a pair of Uggs or a new Chi when there are children who do not have water they can drink because it is infected with feces. I do not need more place settings of my china when there are children enslaved as prostitutes. We are blessed with great abundance and we need to share it more.
Our Advent season will be filled with Sunday night movies (come on by our house every Sunday in Advent to eat soup or chili and watch a Christmas movie!) with friends, a few treats on St. Nicholas Day, driving around to see Christmas lights, sipping hot chocolate, a Neighborhood Open House and hopefully plenty of down time to enjoy the company of those we love, exchanging stockings with Andy, Sam and Sarah, and pondering the wonder of Emmanuel, God with us.
P.S. I also saw this cool idea on Pinterest: “Something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read.”