Like many of you, I REALLY love the Christmas season. The music, the books, the food, the activities, the decorations. It’s so easy for me to get caught up in all of those things. I start thinking about gifts and soon, I’ve gone down a rabbit hole of Amazon research, or suddenly I’ve wasted 2 hours looking into the best new Christmas books. Those are all fun things, but when they take so much time that I’m too tired and busy to even think about the reason for our celebrations, it’s too much.
It’s the same for our kids – there are so many parties and programs that it’s easy to get burned out on FUN. It’s easy for them (and us!) to get caught up in thinking about me, me, me – what I want, how I want to behave, what I want to do.
For our family, it’s really important to me to make sure each day has at least a few minutes of peace, a few minutes to think about WHY December is so exciting to us, and the qualities we want that to inspire in our children. While I love to think about creating magic for them, I want THEM to think about making magic for OTHERS. I don’t want them to just be tunnel-visioned toward the presents of Christmas morning, or all the fun things they have going on. Rather, I want them to think of those who are less fortunate.
I want them thinking of ways they can not only experience joy, but inspire it.
For us, this means taking time for the SCRIPTURES and for SERVICE. These are the two most important parts of our advent. Even if we didn’t do any of the fun things, this is what I hope my children would remember, and I hope their memories of childhood Christmases revolve around these tenets.
Still, it’s difficult to do elaborate service projects when time is constrained during the month. Everyone is busy – including places to give service! I don’t want it to feel so overwhelming that we just throw in the towel. It needs to feel doable for our family with lots of little kids.
Over the years, I’ve developed a pretty good system for fitting in a manageable daily scripture and service. On average, it takes us about 5 minutes. On a good day, we’ll include a Christmas song and picture book (list coming soon, along with a list of Christmas activities and traditions!). If we’re rushed, we’ll just include the former.
Light the World
For the past few years, our church has put together a Light the World campaign that included a scripture and small act of service (plus a short – usually about 30 seconds – video) each day. We’ve loved it and it’s been such a meaningful part of our holiday celebrations. This year, it moved to a weekly format. I’m sure that’s easier for many, but for us, weekly goals rarely work well. Like with exercise, it needs to be daily for it to happen for us, otherwise it just falls by the wayside. It’s so much easier for me to do something every day than just some of the days! It also didn’t include a scripture explaining the service, which we really liked.
So I rejiggered this year’s Light the World calendar to include a service and scripture based on the weekly theme. We like to read the service scripture in the morning quickly before school (we do it over breakfast) so that we and the kids can be thinking of how to incorporate the service throughout the day (it’s too easy to forget by the next morning if we do it before bed). Then at night, we read a short Christmas story scripture. We like to do it based on the alphabet (e.g., Day 1 is A is for Angel, Day 2 is B is for Bethlehem, etc.). I printed and cut these and put them in our little advent baggies.
We love the spirit this brings to our Christmas celebrations, and I hope it does for you, too!