I thought I would write some of my thoughts from this Christmas season down. I felt we had a wonderful Christmas season this year. We did a lot of things differently and kept many special traditions.
- In the book of Hagai, chapter one verse six there is a great scripture that reads, "Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag
I think everyone will do Christmas differently. I think there is no right way to "do" Christmas. For it is about your heart-is your heart focused on the Savior or on the world and the worship of things in it?
I think there are some things I will do differently next year, but I think we are on the right track. One child said it was the best Christmas ever. I think that's a success considering they received a small fraction of the presents they normally receive and we changed many traditions.
For the sake of helping myself remember our experiences I'll write what we did so that I can review for next year.
Treats for friends/family: We did still give treats this year. I feel it is an important time to express love. Of course it could be argued that I need to do that throughout the year. I do feel that I do that, but I don't think there is anything wrong with expressing love at this time of year. We did small bags of candy this year. This is one thing that I will do differently next year. I think I will give fruit instead of candy. That will mean more money, so we'll see. I had thought about giving them a "gift of wisdom." What I had thought of doing was sharing the things we as a family had learned this past year in the form of a letter with a note that perhaps our lessons learned would be of help for them in the coming year. I didn't do that, but perhaps I will, still thinking about this one.
Christmas cards/letters: When we passed out treats this year we gave out Christmas cards. I also mailed cards to grandma/pa's and other close family members. I haven't written a Christmas letter in several years. I would like to, I just haven't gotten around to it. This is probably something I should get back into. Again it is time consuming though and so I have not done it. Excuses, excuses….
Ward Christmas Dinner: This year I was assigned to run the kitchen for the ward Christmas dinner as well as decorate for it. This year I choose to have has a theme "The Living Christ." The walls were decorated with scenes from Christ's life as well as short phrases from "The Living Christ" that corresponded with the pictures. Such as, "He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness," "He went about doing good," "He gave His life to atone for the sins of all mankind." The centerpieces included rolled up "Living Christ's" for each family to take home if they didn't have one. There were numerous other things I did that were neither here nor there, but since I will be assigned to do that again most likely I thought I would share what I had done.
Decorations: This year for the first time we put lights up outside. They were simple, but we did it. I think that we will continue to do that. They have lights at Temple Square and so I decided it would be good for us to some as well. For our Christmas tree we had our traditional Angel Moroni tree topper. This year our ornaments were the little 3X2 cards of Christ's life with ribbon in the corner to attach to the tree. We had gold flowers, white lights, and we did have some candy canes on it also. We had talked about a popcorn strand put we never did. It was very simple. Next year we may have ribbons on it instead of flowers. Who knows?
Stockings: We did not put up our traditional stockings that I made several years ago. They were more Santa-y so we decided not to. We did hang up some wool stockings on the night of Christmas Eve. This year the kids received a silver dollar in it. We also included a letter/testimony from both my husband and I to each child. I have not researched the origin of stockings. If I had the internet at my fingers perhaps I would. I do not know if we will do stockings again. If we do I really enjoyed the simplicity of what we did this year.
Christmas Eve: We have our traditional family dinner on Christmas Eve. We enjoy sharing this time with my extended family. We have a meal, a short Christmas program and small gift exchange. Our money limit is $5. The families do a good job about asking what the parents would like their child to receive so I never have to worry. I have a great family in that way. This is perhaps my favorite part of Christmas-being with my family on this night. We also gave the children pajamas. I was not going to do this this year, but this was one of the few requests of old traditions that they wanted to keep. We used a gift card from a grandma to buy them. She had hoped we'd buy a Wii game with the money, but the kids wanted pj's.
Christmas Day: We opened our few presents in the morning. This year we only gave our children one personal gift. The boys received swords from "Vision Forum." Liberty received a sewing machine. We also gave them some cereal with a gift card for skiing. Receiving cereal has also been a long standing tradition which they asked to keep. This was paid for with the gift card as well. We rarely have cereal and so this was a treat. This year we wanted to give one present and have one family experience. Our children have wanted to go skiing for a long time so we decided this was the year. Their other grandma/pa bought them their own tool boxes with tools-the perfect thing. Liberty received a gift card that she will either spend on fabric or things for her horses-perfect thing again. We did buy two family books and Blokus the game which we love. After short presents we went to my family for our traditional sough dough pancake breakfast and spent several hours visiting with family. In the afternoon we went to the care center and presented a Christmas Nativity Program to the residents with some help from our good friends. We then passed out the lap quilts we had made and collected from the community during the month of December. It was a very neat experience and something we plan to continue to do. The rest of the day was spent with more family time. Since we received so few presents we had to interact with family and we weren't in self-absorption with our new gifts. The boys did put in some good sword time with their uncles though. During the day I also visited two widows from our ward in their homes.
Carols: We did sing a lot this year. We went caroling once. We limited our singing to the songs and hymns that pertain to Christ versus the Santa and the snow songs. We also sung at the care center weekly throughout the month. We will continue to sing weekly to them throughout the year.
Those are the things that I remember. I am sure that I have forgotten some aspect of the Christmas holidays. In reflection I liked the focus on others and on the life of Christ besides just His birth. We will continue to work and rework on having our hearts focused on our Savior not just during the holiday season, but every moment of our lives so that He will become our living center.