December 22, 2008

The Twelve Gifts of Christmas

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)


Cheryl Barker said...

Kelli, what a neat idea for a post! Sounds like you've had many blessings this month. May they continue this week -- Merry Christmas!

Chatty Kelly said...

I loved this! So cute. Mine would be similar but reversed, I think we had 12 rolls of paper, and FFFFIIIIVVVVEEEE batches of cookies.

Merry Christmas!

Sue J. said...

I can relate to so many of these entries.... My mom's the one with the Department 56 collection, though I'd be afraid to acquire hers (she has a massive cabinet with several shelves--yikes!); our CD collection has gone past one container box with everything from Celine and "Peanuts" to BeatMas--which are Christmas songs to the tune of Beatles' songs.

And I'm done wrapping, too!!!! Yes, not on Christmas Eve. No hubby getting on my case because it wasn't done earlier! I'm having my egg nog by the tree, and maybe we can even take one more showing of George Bailey and friends, if the little ones go to bed like they're supposed to.

Thank you for starting your blog and for blessing us with your excellent writing, Kelli--More to come in the New Year, I hope!

Merry Christmas!!

Peggy said...

Great work Kelli...
Not only the blog, but all that you are doing and will do in God's name.
You are a powerful young woman, and I'm so proud to have you as a sister in Christ.
My prayer is that you and your whole family has a most cherished Christmas, and a wonderfully Christ enriched new year to come.
Blessings and Love.....Peggy

Kirsten H said...

Wow - loved this post Kelli! I think all of us should write our 12 Gifts of Christmas! Yours reminded me of the joys of this time of year that we can forget to easily in the rush of it all!
Love ya,

Joy in The Truth (Sharon Sloan) said...

Love your personal version of the song! :) And the pictures are great!

Truly wishing you and yours a peaceful, joyous and Merry Christmas!

Thankful the Lord has allowed our paths to cross so delicately!


elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Loved reading about your 12 gifts of Christmas! Sounds like an all-around good Advent.

That we would take to our Jesus' arrival throughout the year with such zest and willingness to go the extra mile--the 12 months of Christmas!

And that wrapping? I'm with you on that one. I've got mine done and it feels so good to not have the worry come tomorrow.


Sassy Granny ... said...

I've got to add something new to my own list of "12 days", and that's the movie THE NATIVITY. I could watch it 12 times!

Merry Christmas

JerryLyn said...

Kelli, This is really great. I had so many gifts as we walked through Advent Conspiracy. It's funny, I feel I really am beginning to know you through your honest, reflective sharing. May the peace and love of God envelop you and your family. Jerry

Van said...

Thanks for sharing your 12 days of Christmas. Your stories are also lessons for those looking for simple and satisfying celebrations.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your thoughts! I even sang the tune (just not out loud)!

Curious if you are interested in joining my writing journey in 2009? I'll email you!


Gail W. said...

Kelli, this is absolutely BEAUTIFUL! Thank you for the reminder to look at the "little" things that make life deep and rich and full.

Rick said...

Hello. Forgive me for being so bold, but I am having a little giveaway on my blog. I am offering a chance to win a free caricature created by me. There are no gimmicks. It's just my way of celebrating two years of blogging. Please do me the honor of signing up for a chance to win.

Chanda said...

really, REALLY cute post, Kelli! Hope your New Year's is fantastic! It's great to know we can smile at the future in Him, eh? :)


Julie Gillies said...

Hi Kelli,
I'm glad your focus on presence instead of presents was a success. It's a real battle for me, because my husband's gift is giving. He LOVES buying ( and is quite the shopper. It's the thrill of the hunt along with blessing those he loves. That said, we purchased mostly things our kids and each other needed anyway. For me, it's progress.

Oh, and I loved your 12 Gifts of Christmas...very clever.

I pray you and your family have a blessed 2009. And I will be in touch after I return home from Tennessee about a critque group.

Happy New Year!

Runner Mom said...

This was precious! I pray that you and your family had a wonderufl Christmas and will be richly blessed in 2009! I am so glad that God allowed our paths to cross at She Speaks last summer!
Love ya,
The puzzle was pretty impressive!!