This past Christmas we tried to experiment a little, in hopes of re-creating a meaningful, Christ-centered Christmas celebration. Because we are far from family this year, we had a little more flexibility in shaping our holiday season to be what we wanted- no more, no less. So, we decided to keep it simple.
When we woke up on Christmas morning, we waited to go downstairs until everyone was awake. Jake rushed down ahead of us to prepare. When the kids and I walked down the stairs, we heard a Christmas hymn playing. Sitting in the middle of our living room, we saw a baby, wrapped in a white cloth, lying in a “manger”. The room was still, except for the bouncing light from one lit candle placed near the manger. We quietly filed into the living room, kneeling around the baby. Words of “Emmanuel” and “Our King” filled the air. For a few minutes, all we could do was stare … my mind began drifting to what it would have been like to be there when Jesus was born. Our king came as a baby. A baby who relied completely on other people for his care. A helpless babe. Our king. Our Lord. What a strange way to come. What a beautiful way to come. After a few minutes, I read the Christmas story while we gazed at the babe.
While the family was lingering, I made cinnamon rolls. We sang Happy Birthday to Jesus (complete with candles in each of our buns), and then got ready for our church gathering.
After the Christmas worship service, we came home, ate lunch, took naps, and then spent the rest of the afternoon/evening watching a Christmas movie and making Jesus ornaments out of a flour and salt dough.
It was a simple day, but filled with conversation about Jesus’ birth. Honestly, I was relieved at the end of the day because it wasn’t a let-down. The lack of presents didn’t take away from the day at all. In fact, it was fun and restful. The kids were so excited all day because it was Jesus’ birthday— not because they were going to get anything, but because they love Jesus and were excited it was a special day for Him.
Fast forward one week. New Years Day. Today was our day of presents and paper and bows and big surprises and lots of unpackaging of small playset parts. We were celebrating the new year in a way that looks forward to the hope of a new world, filled with fun and extravagance and gifts.
The kids did a great job of disconnecting presents from Christmas, even though everyone around them was doing presents on Christmas. They were happy to wait, because, as Asante said, “why would WE get presents on Jesus’ birthday?! It’s not our birthdays!”
Anyway, that was how our day went. We’re excited to be starting new traditions!