I want to tell you about something I'm really excited about. It was just yesterday that I got it all worked out in my brain, but it's an idea that really started about a month ago, and now, in the words of Sid the Science kid, it's turned into my Super-duper-umper-shumper-BIG IDEA I'll start from the beginning.
Every once in a while I like to take the girls up to Barnes and Noble for story hour, and a few Tuesdays back this is where we found ourselves. Before it was time for the book, Marianna noticed a display with a tv set up next to it running a promotional for The Elf on the Shelf. I heard of it last year for the first time and thought it was a cute idea. If you haven't seen it yet, this is the concept in a nutshell: the book comes with a magic elf, and each day of December the parent hides the elf for the kiddos to find in the morning. The self-named elf cannot be touched (it's magical), and it is always watching so that he can tell Santa whether the children he keeps watch over are good or bad. It also comes with a book. Anyway, it's something exciting to do each day building up to Christmas, and I like that. Part of me wanted to buy it right then and there, but something -maybe the price tag- kept me from sealing the deal.
Since then, the idea has stuck with me, but over the weeks it morphed into a different concept, until it finally materialized into a game plan yesterday. Here it goes...
This year, starting on the first day of December and going all the way til Christmas day, I want to do something every single day to remember what Christmas is really about. I'm going to entitle my little operation Take Christmas Back, and I want our family to see what it is like to try and enjoy every single day of the season, not by seeing how much fun we can have by doing stuff for ourselves, but by seeing how much greater the joy is when we focus on trying to celebrate Jesus and everything He means. How is it going to happen? Well, I'm still piecing it all together, but whatever it is, I want to make sure Marianna can be involved. It hit me that right now she is going to start forming her ideas of what is important in life, and it is me and Nathan who are going to shape that for her. Without even realizing it, I can see how we can create a world that is all about getting, getting, getting, without ever teaching her to give. Having Marianna has opened my eyes in a new way to how Christmas is marketed to appeal to self. It's all about picking out the presents she wants, getting to see Santa, getting to make cookies, going out to see shows or lights, and the thing is, not one of those things is bad. But if that's all it's about, we're robbing her.
So this is what I'm thinking. How about trying to incorporate some of the things we would do anyway, but do them with a twist. For example, I want to make Christmas candy this year, but instead of keeping it all for ourselves, I thought maybe we could package it up and take it to one of the hospitals--maybe even a Children's hospital--to give to those who are sick and can't get out. When I was growing up my mom often made dough ornaments with me, and it's a tradition I would like to keep up. So maybe this year, we can make some for our family tree, and we can make a few extra and take them to an assisted living facility or a nursing home, and visit some people who don't get to see children often. I want to read the Christmas story every morning leading up to Christmas. I want to let Marianna "earn" some money so that she can buy a gift for a child who won't have many. Basically, I want to go about the whole season with a focused effort not to get lost in the lights and presents and pageantry, but rather to keep it in perspective. I love all of it, and I don't think it's bad. I just know how I am. Without thinking about it, planning on, and preparing for it, I'll find myself sliding into all the normal holiday chaos without doing any of these things that I'd really like to do.
So that's my plan. This morning our pastor preached out of Matthew 10, talking about the rich man who hoarded his wealth, and died rich with material possessions but empty of everything that really counted. We might not have a whole lot of financial wealth to hoard, but we do have other things--our time, our focus, our priorities-- that we can hoard without even realizing it. I hope this year it will be different!
I am aware that I'm putting this out there a little early, but I'm excited about it now, and I wanted to share the thought. This is my official invitation to ask you to jump on board with us on our Take Christmas Back adventure... I would love to get one of those buttons for my blog...maybe I'll figure out how before December 1st! I'd love to hear any suggestions or ideas if you have them!