Thursday, December 06, 2007

Our Christmas Switch-Up

I love Christmas, and it just grows more and more amazing each year.

About eight or so years ago, I realized that our children's Christmas morning expectations might be a little high. It was going to be one of those years when the budget wouldn’t come close to touching their want lists. Actually, because we’re in fulltime ministry, most years are like that. While my kids had friends who spent most of the morning and into the afternoon opening gifts, our gift-opening easily took way less than an hour.

My kids were catching on, so what to do?

We already had a morning routine that they insisted we stick to: waking up to Christmas music; opening stockings full of carefully chosen small gifts; chowing down a hardy breakfast that has to include home-baked cinnamon rolls; and the telling of the Christmas story in every way imaginable.

That year—whenever it was—I started praying about how we could use our time after we finished with the above traditions. God answered on Christmas morning by bringing to our attention the need of an elderly man in our community. He was sick, living alone, and holed up in a cold house.

Here came the switch-up. We’d already finished the stockings, breakfast, and story, but we hadn't opened gifts yet. We stopped, put together a meal of homemade tamales (something we rarely make, by the way), and we traveled the forty minutes to visit our sick friend. We stayed just long enough to build up a nice fire in his woodstove, pray for him, and get him set for his Christmas meal.

When we returned, it was already close to noon. Our children enjoyed opening their gifts, but it was no longer the main focus.

The next year we heard about a family who had lost their mother and grandmother early December. They were all pretty down, so we put together a basket of coffee, cocoa, and warm cinnamon rolls and delivered them Christmas morning

Now each year, during the entire season we are on the lookout for how God might want to use our Christmas morning trip. Sometimes we know right away and other times not until that day. Depending on who we’re visiting, we may call ahead or make it a surprise.

This has turned into one of the highlights of our Christmas.

I’d love to hear what you do during this season that has grown into a special tradition for you. Please share!


1 comment:

Jeanette Hanscome said...


What a great idea! Thanks for inspiring me to find creative ways to give.

Merry Christmas,