Yes, I know it's only October, but the kids are back in school and before you know it, it will be time for Thanksgiving, and then, Christmas.
Like most Americans, you will probably spend more on gifts during the Christmas season than at any other time of year.
Hopefully, unlike most Americans, this year you will spend less, not more, than you want to spend on celebrating Christmas!
Who can remain unmoved by the God-King who laid aside His glory and became a helpless baby lying, not in velvet and satin, but a manger filled with straw? We can almost hear the angels singing.
How we long to go back in time and see a baby-King who would change the world forever! We would have worshiped at His cradle, brought Him gifts like the wise men did, and spread the news of His birth along with the shepherds.
The simplicity of His birth amazes us--once again we realize that God's ways are higher than our ways.
My family, friends, and worship team all appreciate the nicer, calmer me.
Set aside an hour this week to make a plan for this year's Christmas celebration. Christmas will come and go whether you do this or not, but consider controlling your Christmas celebration, rather than letting Christmas chaos reign supreme.
Before you begin, keep in mind that holidays can provide refreshment, strengthen family relationships, provide opportunities to instill godly values, and allow us to celebrate the goodness of God. Or holidays can wear us out, drain our pocketbooks, and strain our relationships. Planning ahead can help the former, rather than the latter, to occur. So here is a plan for you to start this week.
- Pray for wisdom and ask the Lord to lead you in this process
- Pull out any Christmas books or articles that you have put aside because they inspire you. Glance through them
- List the things you want to do as a family that will give you a chance to be refreshed, celebrate, and enjoy one another
- List special church activities that you participate in each year
- List traditions and activities you and your family enjoyed in previous years that you want to do again
- List traditions and activities you and your family found draining and exhausting in previous years. Consider doing something different
- Make a gift list
- Make a card list
- Write down a realistic figure that you can spend this Christmas
- Put your lists in a file folder labeled Christmas Administration'--children hate the word administration and will not peek
Now that you have had your planning session for Christmas this year, it's time to get things done ahead of time!
- Finish Christmas card list
- Take Christmas Family Photo
- Finish Gift List
- Make a Christmas budget (if money is tight, plan to give homemade gifts and send e-cards)
- Decide on any Christmas presents, ornaments, or crafts you want to make this year. Find instructions and put them in your file folder. Plan two whole day or half day "workshops" where you can make the crafts, presents, or ornaments
- Enjoy your Christmas "workshop" day with children, friends, or by yourself. Put dinner in crock pot before you start and have fun
- Begin Christmas shopping (keep all receipts in your file folder)
- Start picking up Christmas staples (flour, sugar, chocolate chips, condensed milk, evaporated milk, spices)
- Address Christmas cards. Have them ready to mail December 1
- Continue Christmas shopping
- Wrap presents after you buy them (that way "peekers" won't be tempted)
- Continue picking up Christmas staples, adding yeast, baking powder, baking soda, canned pumpkin, brown sugar, white sugar, vanilla, and almond extract to list
- Make Christmas cookies and freeze ahead
- Have another Christmas present "workshop" where you make gifts for loved ones
- Buy extra turkeys when they go on sale at Christmas--store in freezer for holiday meals, including Christmas Day. Turkeys never get cheaper than Thanksgiving sales
- Pull out your lists from "Christmas Administration" folder and choose your Christmas/December activities
- Put all Christmas events on calendar--make sure to schedule family time
- Finish Christmas shopping the day after Thanksgiving--if you can stand the crowds, pushing, and shoving--be nice!
- Mail Cards
- Get any gifts you still need and wrap
- Buy Christmas tree, decorate, and place presents under the tree
- Enjoy all your Christmas activities, events, and family time
- Meditate on the Wonder of Christmas
- Bake Christmas Cookies
- Have a Merry Christmas!
There, you are enjoying Christmas! You have done the work ahead of time and can relax and meditate on the wonder of Christmas! You may even have time to enjoy your family too.
Wishing you an Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
For the Joy Set Before Us!
(Meredith Ludwig Curtis)