I LOVE Christmas! I love the joy, the festivity, the traditions, and most especially, the opportunity to draw closer to the Savior.
As I thought about what makes Christmas feel like Christmas at my house, I thought I'd share a few of our favorite traditions that help us stay focused during the busyness of the holiday season.
... and I'm starting with a new one...
A few weeks ago, as my to-do list started taking shape, I got a pit in my stomach as I thought about the shopping part. Maybe it's because of Operation Order, but I really didn't feel like spending a ton of money on stuff that would be hardly used and that I would want to throw away a week later. (How's that for holiday cheer?)
As I thought of what I REALLY wanted to give my children, it boiled down to this: I want them to know and love the Savior. I want the values Greg and I have tried to teach them to be their own. And really - they are doing pretty well in that department. They're good kids, but sometimes I worry - because I'm a mom and that's my job, right? Are their roots deep enough to carry them through whatever difficulties they may face in the future? Will their faith remain strong when things get hard?
We got together with a few like-minded friends and decided to give our kids some EXPERIENCES for Christmas. The material gifts are being scaled way back this year.
We, as parents, got together and looked through the life of Christ. What did He do when He was here on earth? Then we brainstormed ways the kids could follow that example. The original plan was to do "A Week in the Life of Christ" and have service activities planned for them. However, as the discussion progressed, so did the concept of what we wanted to teach.
Ultimately, we decided to put the teens in charge. We presented the concept, and had all of the "12 and up's" meet together one night to plan. The next night, they presented their plans to the 4 families. What an awesome group of kids they are!
So here is how the plan looks now:
Although we are kicking it off during the Christmas season, our plan to follow the Savior will take place all year. The twelve MONTHS of Christmas. Once a month, we will all get together for a combined service family night, planned ahead of time by the Teen Council.
The kids are earning the money to finance the projects. Last week, we had a babysitting night at our house. Huge success! We had 35 little ones here while their parents shopped or went out on a date, and our kids entertained them with Christmas crafts, outside play, toy time, etc. Awesome. Each family that brought their kids was asked to make a donation to the service fund.
Christ fed the hungry:
- Set up lunch or dinner at a park downtown, or serve at a homeless shelter
- Make bags with some food and essentials and hand them out to the needy. We have a few freeway overpasses around here where the destitute live.
- Make some "freezer meals" for someone you know that could use it. Maybe times are hard financially, or time is scarce, or they are facing a family crisis.
- Organize a food drive for a local food pantry. This can be as simple as delivering a flyer to each house in your neighborhood stating that you will come back on a certain date to collect donations left on the front porch.
Christ healed the sick:
Visit a local hospital or children's hospital. Call ahead to see what their needs are. Our kids are planning to knit some hats for babies and cancer patients, and make some joke books to help provide cheer.
Christ calmed the storm:
We can provide relief for those facing storms in life. This can take the form of disaster relief (making hygiene kits, blankets, etc.) to be donated to those in disaster stricken areas. It can also address more personal storms. You can help a local women's and children's shelter with their needs.
Christ cared for the widows:
Our kids are planning to have a dinner for some of the widows from church, to let them know how loved and appreciated they are. You could also make packages and cards.
Christ healed the blind:
I recently became aware of this project, and we are hoping to help out with a fundraiser of some kind.
Christ taught and testified:
Lots you can do here. Our kids are planning to make care packages for some of their friends currently serving as full-time missionaries for our church, and include some written statements of their beliefs. You can also share an inspiring quote or video through social media or personal letters.
Of course, this list will continue to grow and evolve, but we are SO excited to get started! The kids opted to start with Christmas caroling at a local care facility and care packages for soldiers serving abroad.
Come back soon for more traditions we enjoy around here!