I don't know why I haven't been able to get my act together and post my thoughts about our Christmas celebration. It's probably that my mind has been going in so many different directions since the holidays, and I wanted to give Christmas some focused reflection as I consider what happened and what we might do differently next year.
Overall, I was very happy with the way we honored Christmas in 2009. Life in December ended up being a bit more crazy than I envisioned because I was mildly ill for a while and Peter's grandmother spent most of the month in the hospital. However, life would have been out of control if those 2 things had happened and our December calendar had been full. Having plenty of space built into our schedule gave us the ability to absorb the extra chaos without losing too much sleep or forgetting what the month was about. I'm thankful for Simple Mom's 12 Weeks to a Peaceful Christmas. It was a useful tool for preparing holiday details even if I didn't complete it 100%, and it definitely contributed to my sanity in December. (And my sanity helps translate into peace and happiness for the rest of the family as well.)
The kids really enjoyed lighting our advent candles at dinner each night. Joshua initiated several conversations about hope in relation to advent. We all looked forward to reading our Christmas cards and praying for the family and friends who sent them.
We all liked our Jesse Tree as well. I loved using the ornaments from The Glorious Coming, but we were disappointed by the accompanying devotionals. Most were far too complicated for our kids. Instead Peter read the scriptures, and I paraphrased helpful reflections from the devotional. (The link says that the devotionals are being rewritten. I wonder whether they'll be more kid friendly.) Our only other problem is that being out a few evenings left us playing catch up. I think next year we will plan ahead to skip a few selected passages here and there so we don't fall behind.
Peter and I weren't very faithful doing evening prayers, so I can't really comment on whether we liked Phyllis Tickle's arrangements. We'll have to try again next year.
We loved thinking more about gift giving and considering what and how we give. We gave and received some very cool gifts and had fun in the process. It was very fun to be involved in an alternative gift market.
I'm especially glad we decided to choose birthday gifts for Jesus. We will definitely do it again but try to start earlier in December so we have time to wrap the gifts and have them under the tree. Talking with the kids about what kind of gifts would make Jesus happy led to our first discussion about homelessness and a more in depth discussion of HIV. We let each person vote on the gift they wanted to give. In the end, we had 2 winners and gave 2 smaller gifts. Joshua was certain Jesus would want a picture more than anything, so he drew this picture of himself helping someone with HIV who needed help in a storm.
As we head now into the new year, we will be considering how our experience will shape our lives apart from Christmas. Peter and I are talking about taking the kids to serve at one of the homeless shelters in town, as they really struggled to comprehend what it means to be homeless. I'm continuing to think about gift giving and all the great ideas I received from some of you over the past 2 months. As I process the ideas, I'll try to share them here from time to time. I'd love to hear your post Christmas reflections as well.
Honoring Christmas: a series
Honoring Christmas: the hard work
Honoring Christmas: advent
Honoring Christmas: giving better gifts
Honoring Christmas: the cards are coming
Honoring Christmas: a baby is born
Honoring Christmas: gifts for the birthday boy