2 Christmas Gifts

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‘Tis the day before Christmas and all through my house, everybody’s going crazy…just kidding. So far, it’s actually pretty relaxed here – my husband is mixing up waffle batter after sleeping in for a couple of hours (WooHoo!). And I just heard my son clomping sleepily down the stairs from his room. Our vacation schedule has kicked in.

Amidst the busyness and anticipation of this week, an essay of E.B. White has settled into my thoughts. I first read White’s prose work a few years ago when my husband printed out a copy for me of one of his Christmas pieces. By the end of my first reading of it, I was beaming with delight at his blend of sharp humor and heart. And I’ve gone back to it every year since.

Today, I’d like to share a link to another one of his Christmas essays with you. I found it on Senseijfk’s site, right here on WordPress. In it, White gives us a great lesson in holiday evangelism. I hope you enjoy his writing – and check out Senseijfk’s other posts while you’re there, too!

https://senseijfk.wordpress.com/2010/12/20/eb-white-on-christmas-and-relative-pronouns/

As another little gift, I’m putting up a link to a song by Third Day called “Born In Bethlehem.” I used it as part of a recent devotional I gave at church. Like all beloved Christmas songs, it tells the gospel story, from Jesus’ birth to His sacrifice for our sins. I feel renewed excitement and joy each time I hear it.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Av7fPUem190

Wherever you find yourself this season, whatever life is sending your way, my prayer for you is that you find moments of joy right in the middle of it all. Jesus came for you, and now He lives for you – take time celebrate how much He loves you. Merry Christmas!

Simply Christmas

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At this time of year, the word “simple” takes on a whole new and challenging meaning, doesn’t it? It is so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of holiday activity. In fact, we can see the busyness as unavoidable, as if it is just another part of the season. We complain about the fatigue we feel while pushing through it, almost looking forward to January 2nd when things settle down. And if we’re not careful, we can even miss the celebration entirely.

For a lot of years I embraced the annual nuttiness. I’m always busy, as most of us are. But as late November approached, and my to-do list grew, so did my excitement. I’d kick into high gear, humming Christmas carols while doing the extra cooking and running around. To me, the hectic pace was a reminder of the special days that were coming soon.

I have to admit that my mindset in those holiday seasons was pretty worldly. My thoughts were honestly more about decorating and baking than recognizing the wonder of Advent and Christmas. And, not surprisingly, I was becoming less and less joyful as time went on.

The idea of simplifying started to sound better and better to me. Just a glance at my overflowing daily planner was proof of how complicated I had been making the end of the year. But simplifying the holidays wouldn’t easy. I had made activity such an important part of the season that I didn’t know how to pull back without losing some of the enjoyment.

Actually, the first step in the right direction came through an idea my husband had to start buying World Visiongifts for our family. That ended up simplifying in some wonderful ways.

Buying all our presents in one place and online pretty quickly won me over. The whole process was less stressful, and gave me some opportunities for quiet time. I found moments to devote to worship and give thanks for the real blessings of the season.

As I did that store hopping and shopping, my thoughts were all about other people, and I guess, myself too. I hope so-and-so likes what I got for them…

Choosing donations to give in the name of family members gave the process a deeper and richer meaning. Instead of getting enjoyment from pleasing others, I got excited about getting others involved with helping to do God’s work around the world.

Letting go of some long-held routines and rituals has been tough. But the bottom line for me is, this season is meant to be simple. It’s a celebration of what really matters: Jesus was born, a gift of love sent from His Father in Heaven to us! I don’t want to miss any more of the party.