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Simply the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Amidst the beauty of Christmastide, there can be this looming pressure to spend the entire season throwing lavish parties with in-depth crafts, themed dinners, and perfectly coordinated outfits. Before we realize it we are drained of the joy of Christ’s birth and left feeling like we have fallen short. Friend, don’t let this culture make you feel like you are a part of a competition. This season is beautiful on its own, without the bells and whistles. This year if you find yourself yearning for a more intentional and peaceful approach to Christmastide, if you long to get back to a more simple way of Christmas joy are some great ways to start.

1. Make an entire night out of decorating your Christmas Tree. Turn on Christmas classics such as Charlie Brown Christmas or the Christmas playlist of your choosing. Rather than attempting to achieve a perfect tree, spend the time telling the stories of each ornament you place on the branches.

2. Simplify your decorations by making some of them! String together dried-out orange slices for a garland that not only looks beautiful but will smell wonderful as well. Collect pinecones and evergreens from outside and use them to make wreaths, arrangements for your kitchen table, or garland on your window seals.

3. If you have little ones you can have them join in the fun, by letting them decorate the wrapping paper you use for presents. Buy white or brown wrapping paper and let your littles decorate with their hearts' desire. You can even discuss with them who each present is for as you wrap them and say a prayer for the gift recipient. What a great way to foster intentional gift-giving!

4. A special tradition for my husband and I is to visit local antique stores to look for Christmas ornaments, particularly vintage Santa and nativity ones. It is exciting to never know what we are going to find, and it makes for great stories.

5. Baking! Everything baked during Christmastide seems to hold extra flavor. Personally, nothing feels like Christmas more than a messy kitchen filled with wonderful smells and piles of goodies. However, Christmas baking does not have to be elaborate. In fact, simple sugar cookies are one of my favorite treats at Christmas and they double as yummy gifts. This is another activity that makes wonderful memories when you pull the kiddos into it.

6. Christmas light hunting! This has to be one of my favorite activities. As a child each year my parents would pile my brother and me in the car with some hot chocolate and we would drive around admiring the Christmas displays around town. It was simple but I looked forward to it each year. My husband and I still carry on this tradition. Sometimes we even create a game out of it, almost like Christmas Lights I-Spy!

7. Visit Jesus. Amid the hubbub of all the celebrations, the true meaning of the season can get left behind or relegated to a single day. Instead, attempt to spend some extra time with Jesus this Christmas.

8. Christmas Caroling. Grab the kids, and some beautiful hymns, and go visit family and friends. I think we can all agree there is something pure about hearing little ones sing Christmas Hymns. If you do not have family close by, perhaps reach out to a nursing home, I bet the residents there would love to sing with you. In all honesty, you don’t have to leave the house for this activity. Growing up my Nana would bring everyone around her piano before Christmas lunch, and we would bellow out a hymn or two together. I treasure these memories and I still look forward to singing with my family before Christmas meals at Nana's.

I hope that this year we all are able to make memories and leave the Christmas season more joyous than we have before. We only have to turn our gaze to the simple manger of Bethlehem, the first Christmas to see that the only thing you need this Christmastide is to be with those you love and to be with THE ONE who came to us in a humble manger.



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