This year will be the eighteenth Christmas my husband and I have spent together. We've had many "lean" Christmases, and some prosperous ones. But whether money was tight or plentiful, I have always spent time preparing for the holidays in a whirl of stress and hurry, worrying about the presents the kids "needed," about what to give to the neighbors as a small gift, about the decorations, the tree, the concerts, the food, and the activities. Even about how to add more "Christ-centered" traditions and service projects to our family culture.
But this year, my heart has changed. This year, my husband and I are reexamining our Christmas traditions and habits. We're abandoning some things, and adding different ones to our family culture.
I have come to a realization that Christmas is not about "doing more", or even "giving more." It's about sharing more LOVE. And, unfortunately in years past, I now see that it was the LOVE that was getting lost in all my efforts to do more, to be more, to add more meaning to our Christmas celebration.
The meaning of Christmas has always been there, waiting for me. But I was too busy, too stressed, trying too hard to see it, to hear it, to feel it.
This year, we are stepping back. We are giving our children each one inexpensive present, but it is a gift filled with thought and love. The kids have drawn names with one another for a simple, homemade, useful gift exchange. (Which makes for lots of giggling, whispered idea sessions with Mom!) I've reduced our Christmas decorations and activities. We're spending more time at home, reading inspiring stories, recognizing the gifts of Christ in our everyday lives.
To others outside our family, it may not look like much has changed in our home. But the change has happened in our hearts. Our focus is narrowing on the reason for the season. And, surprisingly, the changes have brought peace, joy, and simplicity.
May your homes and hearts find the peace, joy, and love that the Savior brought to the world on that night so long ago.
Rachel is the happy mother of eleven children, ages 16 years down to 5 months old, and she's been homeschooling for eleven years. She is an enthusiastic advocate for Thomas Jefferson Education principles and has taught classes at several homeschool and TJEd conferences. She also enjoys teaching weekly Shakespeare classes for home-schooled teens and reading classic literature to herself and her family. She blogs about her life and family at Thoughts From The Hearth and about motherhood, marriage, and femininity at Old Fashioned Motherhood .