Thursday, November 1, 2012

I must have been 7 or 8, although I can't remember the exact yr...nor can I remember the location of where my eyes first beheld it, but I do remember the feeling I had when I laid eyes on the object of my desire. Hope turned into anticipation and as lights went up on the tree and carols floated out of every speaker in our house, my mind was consumed with the FUN I was going to experience as soon as I got my hands on that BARBIE CAMPER. Did you have one of those? My sister and I got matching ones and it sure didn't disappoint! Barbie went on more adventures than you can imagine in that thing and she didn't even have to remove her pink high heels because she rolled into every camp ground in style and got to sleep in her luxurious pink bed rather than a silly sleeping bag outside. ;) This is a fond memory for me as are MANY other Christmas memories I have. However, something about Christmas has nagged at me for years, especially ever since Olivia was born. You see, we as Christians are caught in a bit of a rock and hard place with how to marry the very secular and even selfish magic of Santa with the holiness of the birth of our Savior. Some have decided to throw Santa out the window or tag him with harsh and hateful titles while others embrace all of it and try to celebrate all that the Christmas season has to offer equally. I won't point the finger at anyone...I believe each family makes their own traditions which is totally fine by me, but Brian and I had never found one for us that felt right. I think the moment I was sure I wanted something different for us was when Olivia and I were in our favorite toy store this week. I saw the look on her face when her big brown eyes locked onto the sweetest baby doll we had either one seen. She hugged him (yes a boy baby doll) and looked at me with yearning and expectation. Due to his price and the extravagance of the gift, I told her we would have to wait to get something as special as him for a special occasion to which she replied "maybe I can get him for Christmas?". In that moment all the years of wishing the Christmas season by and counting down days, and asking Jesus to forgive me for not being as excited about His holy birth as that Pink Barbie camper...or new bike...or whatever it was my heart longed for that year came rushing back and my heart sank into my stomach. I put the doll back on the shelf and consoled Olivia by telling her I would talk to daddy about it. I mulled over it and prayed over it for do I help my girls keep the focus of Christmas and enjoy the sanctity of it while still keeping the wonder of that special gift too? Well two days ago, I was driving the girls home from the park and the answer hit me right over the head...of course it's all brand new so I'm not sharing a fool proof idea with you here, but this is our plan for this yr. On Sunday Nov 25th, we are going to celebrate the beginning of the Christmas season. We are going to have a big lunch, and decorate the house, and OPEN PRESENTS. It will be a fun and festive day much like December 25th always has been in years past. And then from that day forward, we will celebrate every aspect of the advent season and the wonderful day of our Savior's birth. We will open a part of our manger advent calendar each day, go Christmas caroling, take in as many candle lightings as we can attend, and put as much excitement into the gifts we make and buy for others as we used to into the ones we expected for ourselves. We'll attend the Christmas Eve service with family and friends and drink hot chocolate and stay up way too late as we always have...and then on Christmas morning we will celebrate! I'll make cinnamon rolls and big cups of coffee and we'll all gather together to read the story of Jesus' birth and we will worship. If we are with family on that day, we will eat yet another big meal and exchange gifts with them, but our prayer is that our hearts will be focused differently. I cannot tell you how excited I light my heart feels at the beginning of my favorite time of the year. As adults we know it's not about the presents, but by starting this new tradition, we have a better chance that our daughters will know that too :)