Saturday, December 09, 2006

Christmas This Year

I guess the reason I did not want to post this until after Christmas...I did not want to upset anyone or cause confusion well, I changed my mind. We decided that we are not putting up a tree this year and we are doing three gifts...stay with me. The reason is--well first of all my husband said so after we discussed that the thought of not having a tree and the whole tradition of placing ornaments and garland and lights made us so nostalgic and sad. So, for us, Christmas had become a tie to these childhood memories that had to be present in order for us to enjoy Christmas. We have read of the whole worship of trees etc and that that is what people are doing by putting up a tree...this pagan tradition has lost all its pagan ties and is not the reason for our decision. If the pagan ties were the reason, we would not be able to say the days of the week...ok different story. We have idolized our childhood traditions during this sacred Birthday celebration- the tree just happens to be the center of it all. The traditions were all tied to the tree instead of the remembrance of our Lord. We would sit and admire- the beautiful tree..the atmosphere. Yes, we would ponder our Lord, but take the tree out of the equation and it was like "HEY!!".

We figure our children are very young and if we would decide to prayerfully observe the celebration of our Savior's birthday in a more Christ centered way...now would be the time to instill in them that it is not about a tree- and lights -and decorations. There is nothing wrong with those things until they become so important that you can't celebrate without them. We have come to a place where we want to check the way we celebrate our Lord and in checking it we need to cheerfully take away the distractions that we have tied our heartstrings to and reattach those heartstrings to where they properly belong- the birth and death of our Savior. Christ was born in a stable...bare of festivities though every bit full of the promise of saving grace. Our house inside will be bare of the lights and garland, but it will be full of the love and appreciation for the GREATEST gift of all. Jesus was brought 3 gifts by the Magi. We are going to observe this by giving one another 3 gifts. One neat thing about limiting it to 3 gifts is that they are better thought out and precious...just as the Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. I know our family is thinking how sad for the girls and for Ayden's first Christmas, and we are sad too-but for what?...because of the lack of atmosphere-this signals a problem to us. We did put lights on the outside of the house- we do hope our lives are a light to the world..nothing drastic or tacky, and we would put up lights all year round if we could lol. Our celebration in our house will not be distracted by the outside. Again, I think of my heavenly King born in a bare stable with no pillow to lay his precious head- We are depriving our children of what the world has..yes, that they may appreciate something better...the mystery of the Gospel. Christmas in our house will be sweet and every bit celebrated...without smothering the remembrance of Christ's birth in a stable and a death on the cross. This is just what we feel led to do this year, and it is hard for us...I feel sad thinking I had so much invested in those decorations all these years.

14 comments:

Heather said...

Commenting on my post to add that our children are so young..they have not yet tied their hearts to these traditions...not one tear has been shed over the lack of a tree etc.. We praise the Lord for the joy in our children's hearts that is not yet dependant on traditions surrounding Christmas.

dcrmom said...

Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comments. I am anxious to hear how your decision plays out and your reflections of your celebration this year, after Christmas is over.

Susan said...

I **love** your decisions! We have a tree and give presents and all that, so it's not the fact that you're not having a tree that I admire so much. It's the spirit of wanting to please the Lord. One idea that I read, from a family that doesn't have a tree, is that they bought ornaments (sorry I can't remember where they got them) with the names of Jesus on them, and that is what they decorate with. I thought that was beautiful!

Another thing that we did one year was have no tree - we just couldn't, financially. We let the kids buy each other one gift each from the dollar store, and we got them some small inexpensive things. We wrapped them all and kept them put away till Christmas morning, when we brought them all out at breakfast and piled them on the dining room table. That was the most peaceful Christmas we've ever had! We didn't have any decorations - pretty bare to most people - but the kids loved keeping the presents secret till that morning. They were all elementary-aged at that time.

Enjoy your Christmas, and create the most Christ-centered celebration that you can!

Grafted Branch said...

That sounds beautiful to me. I'm a big proponent of less is more -- and protecting your children from unGodly nostalgia is a wise move.

While we've not come under such conviction is this specific area, the principle applies to all sorts of other things that we do steer clear of, and I respect your choice.

I also think you voiced it very well. I don't even feel threatened or uneasy -- that's a gift!

Grafted Branch said...

That sounds beautiful to me. I'm a big proponent of less is more -- and protecting your children from unGodly nostalgia is a wise move.

While we've not come under such conviction is this specific area, the principle applies to all sorts of other things that we do steer clear of, and I respect your choice.

I also think you voiced it very well. I don't even feel threatened or uneasy -- that's a gift!

Heather said...

Well, I must clarify that this is what we felt to do THIS Christmas. This is in no way to try to make anyone feel bad or challenged in any way. This is a poor analogy, but it is kind of like denying yourself dessert every now and then...it helps keep your appetite and indulgence in check. We also want our children to see that our celebration will be just as complete and unique. I loved the ideas Ms Susan! I also loved the ornaments idea!

Heather said...

GB...thank you so much for your thoughts. Sometimes the Lord leads us to do unexplainable things..for a season..or for the rest of our lives. This is just one of those things.

MrsWndr said...

I admire you decision Heather. That you're doing what you felt led to do. It's wonderful to see a couple/family so willing to do what the Lord asks of them.

Tammy said...

Hi, I'm just paying a wee visit to all the winners of blog awards at Restoring the Years...I loved this post and hope you have a wonderful day!!
:-D

Mishel said...

I *know* this post was not easy for you to write Heather. I appreciate your heart and the spirit in which it was written. I also appreciate your's and Brian's desire to be obedient to the Lord as you seek Him in all that you do.

When my children were young Rande and I (mostly me), wrestled with this. After a few years and different circumstances, the Lord gave us peace about the way we celebrate Christmas. I have a lot of thoughts on this issue (too lengthy to put here! lol), none of them having to do with whether or not we have a tree or no tree, decorations or no decorations, ect...but rather where our hearts are focused during this time of year. I have known those who celebrate "traditionally"(tree, decorations, ect...) become stressed and burdened trying to create memories and lose the focus of the Lord (I've been guilty) and those who celebrate more "non-traditionally" become prideful and judgemental because they are celebrating in a less "worldy" way. (I've been guilty) Neither is Christ-centered. I think the key is for us to be at peace with how the Lord leads (Romans 14:5-6) our family and to teach our children that we are no better if we do things differently (either way).

I am not saying this is how you are being at all. I appreciate your post and think you are a brave woman to write it! : ) I know you well enough to know your desire is to honor the Lord in everything you do. It's what I love about you!

Heather said...

"I have known those who celebrate "traditionally"(tree, decorations, ect...) become stressed and burdened trying to create memories and lose the focus of the Lord (I've been guilty) and those who celebrate more "non-traditionally" become prideful and judgemental because they are celebrating in a less "worldy" way. (I've been guilty) Neither is Christ-centered. I think the key is for us to be at peace with how the Lord leads (Romans 14:5-6) our family and to teach our children that we are no better if we do things differently (either way)." AMEN!! Thank YOU for your openess and honesty in your response. We too have known people who have been near destroyed by their legalism. It is our prayer that we are just doing as the Lord leads but I fear that I may have caused some confusion by posting this? THAT may have been a poor decision. *sigh* I now have that song "only a sinner, saved by grace" running through my head ;) I love you and your words of wisdom. (((hugs)))

Mishel said...

No, I don't think you caused confusion. I thought the spirit of your post was very loving and careful to point out that this is what you are doing for *your* family.

I hope I didn't come across to you that I thought *you* were being legalistic. That was truly not my intent. I so appreciate that you and Brian have sought the Lord and are following Him, no matter what. As your friend and sister-in-the-Lord, I want to support you in following the Lord, not make it harder. I am sorry if I came across that way. I was just sharing my $.02 or maybe more like my $.25! LOL (((hugs)))

Love you!
Mishel

Heather said...

Ms Mishel....I so did not take it that way...I responded above :) love you all too!!!

Erna said...

Just visiting here from a comment left on Grafted Branch's blog. I loved the pics from the piano recital, hair cut, etc. Yet, it was this post that made me stop to write. I too have felt the desire to pull away from the Christmas tree this year and to continue focusing on Christ-centred ideas (wrote a post about the ideas I've had not long ago) I'd like to have in our home. So far, so good this year! We've still been having fun but my daughter isn't worried about twinkling lights and fun ornaments. They enjoy the ones at my parents' home but don't ask where ours is. We'll still have some special things going on here. :0) We also do the three gifts. Anyway, I might end up rambling for a while. I just wanted to share that I share some similar feelings and thought I'd encourage you as there are others who desire to do the same. :0) Blessings to you!