As I’ve written, I’ve traveled a deliberate, and at times heavy-hearted, journey this past month. At the beginning of Advent, I introduced the Advent Conspiracy and how we, as a family, planned to concentrate less on presents and more on Presence. It’s a work in progress, but our first try at a less materialistic and more Jesus-centered Christmas season has been a success. Santa will still bring our kids plenty of presents, but we've enjoyed a special fullness this season.
God’s blessed our efforts and I feel a sense of peace and joy that’s been absent for some time. But, even when my spirits were weary I’ve seen the “gifts” God sent my way. So, in the spirit of giving, I thought I’d share them with you.
Here they are, my Twelve Gifts of Christmas:
(Can be sung, if you’re so inclined, to the tune of "The Twelve Days of Christmas.")
12 Girls a-Giggling…My daughter had a party with a dozen of her friends last Friday and the beautiful sound of teenage girls’ laughter, chatter and singing filled the house.
11 Snowflakes Falling…OK, there have been more than 11 flakes, but seeing snow gently covering the trees and grass on a few occasions fills me with joy.
10 Houses Twinkling…My grandmother gave us her Christmas village a few years ago and each year we’ve added a piece. Setting up the village under tree is now a treasured Christmas ritual.
9 Christmas CDs Playing…Come December 1 all our Christmas music comes out and it’s all Christmas all the time. What a great, and eclectic, collection we’ve accumulated over the years!
8 Friends a Visiting…In the midst of the Christmas crazies, I’ve enjoyed special visits with friends, old and new. God has blessed me richly, sending me friends who see the good in me, even when I have trouble seeing it myself…and accepting me regardless. Plus, the blessings continue with the friends I’ve made this year through writing and blogging. You have been an unexpected gift and a real treasure!
7 Rolls for Wrapping…Hallelujah! I’ve finished wrapping my Christmas presents. Usually this is a last minute panic that saps the joy right out of me—and now it’s done!
6 Playgoers Watching…This weekend Dan, the kids and I went with my parents to Lancaster to see The Miracle of Christmas at the Sight and Sound Theater. Wow! If this story doesn’t amaze you and REALLY bring to life the incredible message of Jesus’ birth, you better check your pulse. Definitely a two-hankie experience. Plus, spending time with my parents was a wonderful treat.
Fiiiiive Ad-vent Candles…As I wrote before, we created an Advent wreath. Spending a few minutes in mini-worship each Sunday has really helped us stay focused on Jesus. It’s become a time the kids really look forward to and they’re the ones to remind Dan and me about it each week.
4 Puzzlers Puzzling…Two weekends ago, right smack in the middle of the busiest prep time of the Christmas season my son pulled out a puzzle—a 550-piece puzzle—and asked, “Can we do this?” You know what? We did! Nothing on our Christmas to-do list got done that day, but we had a great time…and finally finished it three days later!
3 Batches of Cookies…OK, I’m not a baker, but having this many batches of cookies done, two of which were made by my daughter, is cause for celebration!
2 Kids a-Singing (and violin-ing…and drumming)…I have no idea where our children get their musical talent, but they both have it. Watching their chorus, orchestra and band holiday concerts brings tears to my eyes. And every year they just keep getting better and better.
And a Memory-Filled Christmas Tree…When Dan and I were engaged, we began collecting ornaments from everywhere we travel to. After 18+ years of marriage our tree brims with wonderful memories of the special places we’ve visited, first as a couple and now as a family.
I pray that as you “bring home” Christmas these next two days, you find the joy, peace, hope and love that Jesus brings...regardless of your circumstances. And in the midst of it all you see God’s gifts all around, especially His most precious gift of all—Emmanuel, God with us.
Merry Christmas and God bless you and your families!
“[The Shepherds and the Angels] And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.'” (Luke 2:8-11)