You might hate me for this one, but I’m convinced it is a crucial component to enjoying Christmas: make something.
It doesn’t matter what it is. How fancy or simply. If it turns out beautiful or a mess. The joy is in the making.
For us a gingerbread house kit has become a required part of our Christmas season.
But we’ve had plenty of other crafty things occupy our time in Christmases past.
Gifts. Ornaments. Decor. Cards
The options are endless.
Last year the simple but beautiful banner my friend designed was wonderful fun to make.
We also made our own wrapping paper with a roll of blank newsprint paper. Something I think we’ll be adding to our list of recurring traditions.
This is one of our favorite sources for crafty projects if we don’t already have something specific in mind.
Find something that interests you, let go of perfectionism, and just have fun.
In our house, one of the treasured delights of the Christmas season is the movies we watch.
We have a long list of favorites. Movies, when enjoyed together are a wonderful way to engage in the season without much effort. Great for a tired day or a busy week. Keeps things Christmas-y while creating a happy space for rest.
Our top 12 Christmas movies are:
The Nativity Story
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey
The Polar Express
The Muppet Christmas Carol
Little House on the Prairie Christmas episodes
Charlie Brown Christmas
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
All I Want for Christmas
Christmas with the Kranks (kids haven’t watched this one yet, but the adults love it!)
And the number one favorite for the adults in the house:
Much like Christmas music, there’s so many movies out there to choose from you’re sure to find something you like!
Today’s idea for enjoying Christmas is going to be a bit of a pause in the middle of all of the festivities.
It’s no secret to any of us that the hard things of life do not take a break for us to celebrate Christmas.
Whether your hard things were carried with you into the season or got dropped on top of you like a pile of bricks in the middle of it, it feels almost unacceptable to engage in all this celebrating and rejoicing when you’ve got that something awful staring you in the face.
I’ve dealt with this struggle before, and I find that the conclusion I came to then holds true year after year. Christmas is all about God entering into our everyday lives. And our everyday lives are quite the broken mess.
So do we give up on the enjoying? Because things are just too broken?
That is what feels natural to me.
But natural is not always right.
It is lovely and wonderful when the celebrating of Christmas comes enveloped in beauty and happiness and all that could be desired in life. But when it doesn’t, let’s remember the truth.
That all this rejoicing is really not supposed to be about a current temporary happiness. If it were, then certainly when the hard hits we must forsake all our joy.
But if, underneath all of the surface reasons for joy (that are absolutely precious gifts to give thanks for)… if the rejoicing is about a Savior that has conquered all the brokenness and a hope that does not disappoint…. then hard can be hard and it might not be happy, but we can (and dare I say should) still find joy in this season.
I’ve been attempting a new habit the last few weeks. For a variety of reasons I felt drawn to work at scripture memory. Something I haven’t done since elementary school. But a good practice and one I’ve felt compelled to strive after for the sake of “fixing” truth in my mind.
This is the passage I’ve been working on… a perfect reminder that sorrow does not negate joy. I’m choosing to let it be my reminder to let the hard be hard, and to choose joy in this season of celebrating. It is okay to do both. Because ultimately we are rejoicing in something that does not fade away.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you are grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith — the salvation of your souls. -1 Peter 1:3-9
One of the things our family loves every year is counting down to Christmas.
This can be both a fun diversion and a spiritual discipline.
We have a lovely wooden advent calendar for counting down made by Grandma.
We’ve been given sweet gifts that incorporate counting down.
Every year we read through Ann Voskamp’s Jesse Tree devotional. It’s available in a beautiful book now.
And if nothing else, I have very fond memories of making my red and green construction paper chain to countdown as a child!
Whatever the way, counting down creates a build of anticipation that is fun and exciting. In that fun and excitement we can be reminded that we are feeling only a flicker of the anticipation God’s people must have felt all those years awaiting the Messiah. And we can rejoice that He has come. And that one day He will come again and make all this brokenness new.
**All credit goes to my oldest daughter for the idea of today’s theme.