christmas thoughts {& decor}

December 19, 2012

For some reason,
I've had a hard time getting in the Christmas spirit this year.
It's been pretty warm in Kansas, with no snow.
Christmas music has been annoying me because all you hear these days
is a rotation of the 3 most annoying songs ever written.
Last Christmas, I gave you my heart, and the very next day you gave it away.
And my mom's all time favorite,
Merry Christmas Daaaarrrllling.
I apologize if those are your faves.
I wasn't all that excited to get out my Christmas decor
while others couldn't even make it through Thanksgiving before putting up their tree.
Before you write me off as a total scrooge let me just say
that I do want to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
Its the "fluff" - the shopping, the decorating, the baking...the stress -
that has turned me off this year.
It's like all of a sudden, I realize, those things don't really matter.
And they definitely don't equal Christmas.

A few years ago this long time family friend
wrote about what her adult/teenage children were getting for Christmas.
A goat and 2 sewing machines.
She has a heart for India and has ministered to the women there
so that's where these gifts would be sent.
I remember thinking how amazing that was.
That was the first time I had heard of a family forgoing gifts
for themselves and sending items overseas to help people in need.
And then Jami wrote this post last year.
It definitely made me think about
how I wanted my children to view Christmas.
Growing up, my siblings and I were definitely spoiled on Christmas morning.
I wouldn't say we had an obscene amount of gifts under the tree,
but my parents definitely went overboard.
I'm grateful to my parents for sacrificing so much for us,
they're time, money, and energy,
and Jesus and thankfulness was always an important part of our celebration.
But now that I have a family of my own,
I just want Christmas to look different.
In the last few years we've adopted the "3 gift rule".
There are other adaptations but I like the 3 gifts because to me
they represent the 3 gifts brought to, frankincense and myrrh.
And for my kids we do a want, a need and a surprise.
Limiting my kids to 3 gifts a year has never been difficult because
our budget has been tight as long as we've had children.
This is the first year that we can actually afford several gifts for our children
and I have had the hardest time coming up with gift ideas.
They have everything they NEED.
They are fed, they are warm, they go to school, they have clean water to drink, shoes to wear,
and parents to love them.
They have everything they WANT.
They have dvds to watch, colorful books to read, toys to play with, a wii, a hand-me-down DS,
and on. And on. And ON!
It felt kind of silly to purchase anything for them when so many others are in need.
But I know redefining Christmas is going to take baby steps.
Thankfully my children are 6 and under so they will never know anything different.
3 will be the most gifts they ever receive from us.
And I hope to whittle that down as the years pass.
I finally finished up my Christmas shopping last night
and feel really good about what will be under the tree this year.
Their "need" gifts are actual needs that we would be buying for them anyway...
jeans, underwear, shoes, coats.
A lot of thought went into their one "want" gift, which makes it all the more special.
And their "surprise" gifts are all tools to teach them about Jesus...
like the storybook bible and seeds of the spirit cds.
Growing up we never did advent at home.
We always lit the colorful candles at church each Sunday
but I never really understood the meaning behind it.
This year I felt challenged to make it part of my family's Christmas tradition.
So I did some research.
And I spent some time on Ann Voskamp's site.
And bawled my eyes out.
But coming up with an advent calendar for our family was really daunting to me.
The blogosphere and pinterest are dripping with cute ideas
so I looked and looked for the right fit for my family.
I like the idea of a little gift - candy or ornament - each day.
But that's not enough.
I like the idea of doing a fun Christmasy activity each day.
But that's not enough.
For me, scripture - teaching, learning, sharing the story of Jesus' birth -
had to be the focus of our advent countdown.
Preparing our hearts for what we are about to celebrate.
When I saw this advent calendar I knew it was the one I wanted to do.
I pretty much copied it exactly all the way down to the board,
except for a few tags here and there.
I decided to write our scripture readings on the back of the tags
with a few fun activities sprinkled in.
Our advent calendar will be reduced to just 10 days this year
due to me getting things around so late and us leaving town soon for Christmas.
But that was more manageable for me in my first year anyway.
Tonight we will do the most important activity...
...teaching our children that we are celebrating Jesus' birthday.
And that we should get him a birthday present.
And that giving to and taking care of others
is the best gift we can give to him.
We are using the resources Ann lists here.
As my children get older,
I'd like to introduce other activities and ways of serving others.
Volunteering in a soup kitchen.
Adopting a family.
Spending time in a nursing home.
Until slowly, we inch ourselves more and more out of the picture of Christmas.
And see only Jesus.

decor details: 

This year I went simple with the decor.
It always takes me awhile to really figure out where and how I want things.
So with moving into our home just a few short months ago,
I felt like I was starting from scratch with my Christmas decor.
I was feelin' the red and green this year but didn't have much on hand
but I made do with what I had.
Hence the sparce simple look. ;)

I found our tree at goodwill for $15!
It was regularly $150 and sold at target.
I peaked at the needles and thought they looked pretty good
so I took a chance and bought it.
Turns out it had all the pieces and is a super nice tree!
The only thing I bought for the tree this year are the red berries (hobby lobby).
The paper chain is made from an old hymn.

The decorative ball thing is actually starbucks Christmas decor
from a few years ago!
My mom and I went crazy over them so we asked for
whatever the employees had not already spoken for. :)
The mercury glass lookin' trees are from sams or costco last year {love!}.
I'm not normally an "art print" kind of girl
but at Christmas time,
there just aren't enough words to describe our Savior.
And everyone of them gives me chills.
This one is courtesy of jones design company.

free tags here!

Stitched by yours truly.
I cut holly leaves and berries out of felt.
Handstitched them on the towel and added a ruffle.
Easy peasy.

1 comment:

Jami Nato said...

everything looks fab. emily has such cute and simple ideas!
andway, your heart shines the most. i love that our generation is wanting to do something different at christmas time.

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