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Has the stress already begun? Do you find yourself using every spare moment to Google things like ‘best educational toy for a 5 year old’ or ‘easy holiday appetizer recipes’? Have you already left at least one store empty-handed because you didn’t have time to wait in the line that snaked all the way out the door? Does your holiday to-do list already feel like a hopeless endeavor even though it’s only the first week of December?

As we enter the holiday season, we may find ourselves worried about making lists, planning menus, and squeezing budgets. Often, our focus is pulled in so many directions that it can be easy to lose sight of what Christmas is really about. We know that it’s not about parties or sweets or shopping or lists, but how can we ensure that we don’t get swept away by the commercialization and busyness of season?

My suggestion is simple. Make time to pull your family close and focus on the story that transforms our lives bringing hope to a hopeless world. And while this way of celebrating may not be advertising-friendly, it does offer us the opportunity to use these days to deepen our relationship with God.

But how can we restore the focus on the holy and renew our hope?

  1. Let’s dismiss the list! Instead of allowing our children to request as many items as they can, let’s help them to focus on a few things they really want or need. Jesus was given three gifts from the magi. Do our children need more than that?
  2. Use your Nativity set as more than a decoration. If you set up a beautiful crèche, how do your children know that this is different than any other seasonal décor in your home? Look up verses about the shepherd and sheep, the angels, the Magi, and teach your children about each piece in your set.
  3. Use an Advent wreath. As we progress through Advent, it is good for us to mark the time and settle into a deep sense of anticipation. Placing an Advent wreath on your dining room table and lighting a new candle each week can help your children to be drawn back to the waiting, back to the story, again and again and again.

The holidays are not meant to be a time of stress. Instead, Advent is a sacred season when we can make space for a daily journey back to the Biblical story of hope. We can help our children understand what it means to give and how God showed his love to us. During this time, we must find ways to gently turn away from what we are told the holidays should be and connect instead to the truth that the hope for all humankind came to earth to redeem us.

 

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