A Christ and Family Centered Christmas

Phew! These past few months have been go-go-go-go-go! With the cruise, then traveling to Atlanta and Halloween activities, then visiting family in Illinois...next week we will be going to Birmingham then to Murray, Kentucky to spend Thanksgiving with family. Don't get me wrong - I looove this time spent with family and we are so grateful to be able to make all these trips and share this time together. However, because we've been so busy, we have decided to slow waaaay down in December!

When I think about this time of year, I always remember how quickly it seemed to fly by and how we were always going and doing something throughout the entire month of December. Last year I remember making cookies and building a gingerbread house with Raley like 3 days before Christmas, thinking where has the month gone?! I was a little bummed that we were just now getting to do these family activities that we love so much and that the month was basically gone.

This year I realized that it's ok to not attend every single party. It's ok to miss out on events going on in your town. The most important thing at this time of year is Jesus and family and we've decided this year to focus our minds on these.

Of course there are a couple of things on our December to-do list such as Santa's Village, which is a favorite, and our tacky sweater party with our connect group at church. But other than a couple of nights out, we plan to be taking it easy and just being together this holiday season. Actually, this weekend we are planning on walking the Galaxy of Lights at the Huntsville Botanical Garden and Raley and I are going to see The Dance Company's performance of The Nutcracker on Saturday. These are two holiday favorites that we are excited to enjoy before December even hits!

I really just want to take this time of year to focus on the true meaning of Christmas, which is something I don't think we've done enough of in the past. While Christ may not have actually been born on Christmas Day, it is still a wonderful opportunity to not only celebrate his birth and his sacrifice, but to meditate on it and truly think about what it means for us.

I've come up with a list of some simple, fun activities that the entire family can enjoy. Some are Christ-centered activities that will help your kids understand the meaning of Christmas and ways to serve/bring joy to others. Some are simply activities that get you in the holiday spirit and promote togetherness.

- Read books about Jesus' birth. Or read aloud from the Bible (Luke 2:1-21) and have your children follow along in their own books or kids' Bible
- Listen to Christmas music. There are some beautiful and powerful lyrics out there - talk about their meaning with your children. One of my favorite verses that hits me in the feels every time is from Hark! The Harold Angels Sing - "Mild he laid His glory by. Born that man no more may die. Born to raise the sons of earth. Born to give them second birth."
- Pick out toys to donate - take the kids with you to drop them off and talk about why we do this.
- Shop for canned goods for a local food bank
- Play with a nativity
- Shop for an angel together. (Raley and I did this last year and she had so much fun picking out things that a little girl her age would enjoy.)
- Bake cookies
- Build a gingerbread house
- Make salt dough ornaments
- Talk about the story of the candy cane
- Decorate the tree
- Watch Polar Express and drink Polar Express hot chocolate
- Make popcorn garland
- Wrap gifts
- Turn out all the lights, except the tree, and just be together. Snuggle under a blanket in your PJs, watch Christmas movies, eat Christmas goodies and drink egg nog. This is what I picture when I think of the perfect Christmas evening. Do whatever makes your family happy!

I hope this list sparks a few ideas for this holiday season. There are several things on this list that are favorites that I look forward to every year and there are a few new things we've never done before. I'm beyond excited for this holiday season and I'm praying it doesn't fly by as quickly as it typically does.

Have a wonderful weekend and a happy holiday season!

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