Embracing the simple Joy of FAMILY
The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other. Burton Hillis
I tell my kids ever year, “Christmas is about family. It’s about being together. It doesn’t matter what is or isn’t underneath the tree. What matters most is that we, as a family are all together — healthy, happy and loving Jesus.”
Over the last four years, I’ve said that more often than I am sure my children would like to hear. It’s hard to keep a balance between wanting to give your children the desires of their heart at least once a year, and knowing that all of that doesn’t really matter. My children are older now (adults, teens and preteens) so it does make it easier. We were never extravagant in our giving with our children, but years of unemployment have set us back so far that sometimes the offerings are smaller than I’d like them to be. But someone, we always manage to have something under the tree, smiling faces, laughter and happy hearts.
As my family comes together to focus on the simple joys of Christmas, there are many things we enjoy doing that bring us closer to each other as we build lasting memories.
Annual Tree Hunting
And it is a hunt! We drive about an hour south to the tree farm and go on a hunt for the perfect tree. We all have an opinion as to what we feel is the perfect one, but in the end, we manage to come into agreement as we cut it down and bring it home.
Tree decorating, Christmas Movies & Cookies
Every year we decorate our tree while eating freshly baked cookies and watching such Christmas movie as Rudolph the Red Nosed Raindeer, Frosty the Snowman, The Santa Clause and The Grinch. Over the last couple of years I’ve gotten to sit back and watch my children take charge of the tree, which I love. I’ve come a long way from the days where everything had to be perfect on the tree. My children do a wonderful job and you won’t find me rearranging anything!
On Thanksgiving Day, my daughters and I were driving in the car listening to one of our favorite Christmas CDs by Michalel Buble. There is something magic that happens with Christmas music. My heart comes alive, and is filled with joy at not only the lyrics and what they mean, but just the nostalgia surrounding the season. It’s around this same time that my husband and oldest son sit on the couch side-by-side with their guitars participating in their own, home-made Christmas sing along.
Yes, I did say Christmas shopping. Oh, it can be stressful at times, but just the joy of going out and purchasing gifts for others (friends, co-workers, my kids for each other) brings me so much joy. Times are tight and we have had to be creative in our gift giving. Each year our shopping season starts on Black Friday with a trip to Starbucks and then off to the mall. Thankfully this year, since the sales started on Thanksgiving eve (which I was not a fan of), there was no one shopping. No crowds and lots of parking!
I am not a natural baker, but once a year my youngest daughter, my sister and my mother get together to bake cookies. We spend an entire day in the kitchen, each taking home 4-5 containers of cookies. Some of our favorites are:
Chocolate-Peanut Butter No Bake Cookies (which as a child I affectionately called “candy cookies”)
Nothing brings me more joy than partaking in the consumption of these edible creations.
These are just a few of the simple things my family enjoys doing together at Christmas that bring us joy. I do miss the times when my children were little and we all participated in Advent devotionals. With older children, who run on their own schedules, it’s hard to open the Word together. So I make it a point to drop in a “whatcha been reading lately” to spark conversation.
How about you? What Christmas activities do you do with your family that bring you joy? I would love for you to share in the comments below.
Come back next Tuesday as I share more on the simple joys Christmas!