Ahhh, you thought it was over. We ate the turkey and took the naps. We sat at tables with loved ones and maneuvered the conversation around the land mines that our current culture has hidden all over the place. We reflected and expressed our gratitude… for faith and family and food and all that is good and right.
And here we are.
The other side.
The very instant that we pushed away from that table, we were bombarded with the sounds and sights of what is to come. We were encouraged to shop and spend and, short of intentionally choosing otherwise, plan on doing even more of that in the weeks ahead.
It is easy to find ourselves overwhelmed… already.
But, here’s the thing. (And it matters.)
Our Thursday and our Friday need to have something to do with one another. Our Thanksgiving and our Advent must connect.
If we spent the last several weeks focusing on what we are grateful for, how can we launch into Advent thinking about nothing more than spending? Living beyond our means?
Is any of that the point?
When I speak about Christmas, I talk about how all of this began with worship. When Jesus was born, the shepherds came to worship him. The Magi found their way to him, bearing gifts, to do the same. This whole season offers us a time to do the same. Yes, we are told it is about receiving expensive gifts and over-filling our calendar and celebrating the man-in-red. But, from the very start, there was something simple and hopeful about Christmas.
Goodness, that is easy to miss.
Let’s not, though. Okay?
Here are some ideas that can really help:
- Find quiet minutes to share as a family, perhaps even once a day. Sit in a room with only Christmas lights lit and breathe a sec. Refuse to be pulled into the craziness. Instead, read a few verses from the beginning of the book of Luke. This is truth. And it is what Christmas is all about.
- Memorize Luke 2 as a family. This might seem hard, but truly, its not. Your kids will soak this up so quickly. (When first did this, Noah was 3. I said a verse and he repeated it and I gave him an M&M. He was thrilled!) Focusing on the Christmas story again and again through this season can help to slow you down and cause you to remember the most important things.
- Do not let your Nativity set be a decoration. Goodness, this weighs heavily on me. Yes, they are beautiful and we have so many precious ways to represent the birth of Christ. But, the truth is that there was nothing shiny and neat about that day. It was gritty and hard and confusing and REAL. I want my kids to wrap their heads around that. I want them to touch the pieces and know the many aspects of the story and I want Christmas morning to contain the whole of it. So, I have written a set of devotions to help you learn the stories of each part of your Nativity set. We have used this in our home for years and it has really helped us so much. (I sell this right on my site and you can even get it as a download! How great is that??) Our Nativity sets should tell a story. And, if we spend a bit of time over the next month focusing on one piece at a time, we are making it possible to continually draw ourselves and our families back to the truth about Christmas. (Click on the image below for the link to the devotions.)
Thanksgiving has ended and Advent has begun. Take a breath and dig in your toes. Do not be drawn into the craziness… Instead, respond out of that gratitude and extend those feelings into the next four weeks. Choose to draw yourself into a quiet minute and look closely at the scene that started all of this. Christ came into the world to save us… We are known and loved and have value we cannot even imagine.
I am deeply thankful for that.