{ Our Christ Centered Christmas Part 1-The Planning}

It seems like every year I try harder and harder to make it the “best” Christmas. I’m not exactly sure what the “best” really means-it’s not really a checklist of things we did, or what presents we got, but a feeling that is never forgotten. Brooke informed me on several occasions that last year was, “Okay, but, I don’t know how to say this mom…it was kind of..(pause) not exciting.” A boring Christmas, now that sounds like a bummer. The truth was, she was right. We were in the middle of selling our house and we were trying hard to be careful in our purchases, and though she mentioned that she really loved when we drew names for our secret Santa’s and the present she received, the day as a whole was kind of “not exciting.” Christmas without magic?! How could that be? Real life sets in sometimes that’s how it be.

It seems like we all had this great Christmas to compare it too. Ah Yes, the Christmas of ‘08. It seemed perfect in so many of our minds for so many different reasons I am sure-but the truth be told..it was the best. I wonder often if it’s because we have video documentation of all the excitement and the kids watch that and instantly remember the thrill of the morning. For me, we had just brought home a new baby-even that new baby smell still lingered in the air. Everything just seemed calm and at peace. Ever since then we strive (at least partly even if it’s in the back of our minds) to recreate that Christmas. Maybe our kids were just at the right age and all the stars seem to align just right.

Whatever the reason was, I still had it in my mind that I was going to make this Christmas have the same wow factor I knew that at least Brooke was seeking. Since a new baby was not part of the picture this year I knew that was not an option, but I knew that the feelings of peace could still be.

Just days before the week of Christmas I was talking to my good friend Lisa who mentioned a new tradition they were trying out as well. She has received a book entitled, “A Christ Centered” by Emily Freeman, and it outlined a series of devotionals that focused on a different character of the Nativity and what their significance was that sacred night that our Savior was born. It was the answer I knew I was looking for. Years ago, I had built a wood manger that stood by our fireplace each Christmas. It was filled with hay, that inevitable got scattered around the room by little hands, but otherwise remained empty until Christmas morning when a doll was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in it. We looked at the manger, read and acted out the story of the birth of our Savior, did acts of service for others, and many other good things-but I knew that the “wow” I needed my kids to feel meant that the story of the Savior had to burn bright in their hearts.

I immediately order the book, and then downloaded an e copy as well, knowing the other book might not make it in time, and I wanted to give myself time to read it all the way through first. Lisa was nice enough to email a little packet that she had made up from sections of the book and an opening activity the kick start the whole event. With days away, I got to work tweaking the packet to fit our family, printing out stuff, and gathering little details to make it all be a “wow”.

One thing I have learned being the mother of these seven children is that the key to success with them lies heavily in the right amounts of expectation, magic, and love for any given thing. They thrive so much on knowing what to expect and when. Their little hearts have less breaks, tears are saved for real tragedies, and the Spirit can be there in much abundance. Does this mean no surprises?, NO. We love all the little surprises and the fun that comes with them. They just like to have a general plan of things-it actually helps with the anticipation so much more. They love to look forward to exciting events, so this week needed to be no different. I knew that to have this be a success I needed to work out a whole “Week of Christmas schedule”. Hour by hour schedule my friends. Insane yes, but it’s something I wanted to do. I wanted to make sure that we were able to include all those traditions that we still wanted to do this year and not be rushed or any be forgotten that were important to the kids. I wanted to mingle in the Christ Centered Christmas so that it seemed natural to them. I wanted them to see that those feelings from the Spirit about the Savior are natural and meant to be the whole focus no matter what you are doing.

Our plan was to start our Christ Centered Christmas on Monday, and it would end on Christmas morning, so I planned our schedule accordingly. Did we end up doing everything? No. But, the things we didn’t get too, weren’t too missed. I loved having a schedule to mostly keep me on track. I have “house ADD” sometimes, and flounder around from one thing to the next without ever getting anything done it seems. This really helped me remember the ultimate focus of the week, and whole Christmas season.

After I felt like I had the expectation part covered, I knew that the magic part had to be there somehow. I remembered that a few months back while at Michael’s Crafts I had found these small 1inch by 1 inch ceramic boxes that had initials on the tops of the lids. They were in the dollar section and I couldn’t help myself when I discovered they had all of my kids initials. I didn’t know exactly what I was going to use them for when I bought them, maybe tooth fairy boxes? Nonetheless, they had remained unused so I dug them out and got to work figuring out if they could somehow be used as a part of our special week. I read through the book and tried to find one small object or token that could be used to represent each day. I rummaged through my old scrapbooking stuff and was able to find almost all the things I needed. A quick trip to the store in the coming days helped take care of the rest. Each item represents a different person in the Nativity, just something small to jog their memory about that individual. I’ll explain more in detail each one as we did each day.

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Sunday night, I set up our dining table with all the pomp and props I could find-a picture of Scott as a baby that we had used as our Christmas card that year, all their packets lined up in order, their small ceramic boxes, and whatever else I could find.

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Brianna so wanted to be part of the magic so she used her Personal Progress book as a guide and made special little signs with everyone names on them, something special about them, and a scripture for them to look up that talked about that nice attribute. I loved that she was feeling the “wow already. The magic part came in as they would each find a small little gift in their box each morning, and then that night we would do the Christ Centered packet part of the day. Cute little objects coupled with the mystery of what they meant=magic for me. I discovered as the week went on that the magic became more in what they experienced than this.

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As I’m looking at this picture I am remembering that as thee week went on, I found that I had a larger object (the candle stick, the lamb, the treasure chest, the bell, etc.) that went along with each person. I liked having a bit bigger reminder that I could see as I was passing through the room. It helped me really remember each person all day.



Love was all that was left. I prayed mightily for that one. Not that I needed more love towards my children, but just a general feeling of love and well being for all of us as a whole. I wanted a week with no fighting, no arguing, nothing to drive the Spirit away. I wanted everything to go just perfect without me being so caught up with it being perfect. A sometimes impossible task (the me part that is). I concluded that the best Christmas was only perfect in their eyes because of their experiences they had and the things they felt. I  decided within myself to just stand aside and let their own feelings dictate this. If the packets were left empty, but the nights conversations had been full, then so be it. If the little tokens were unnoticed or lost (which happened by some of our littler hands), but they knew what each person’s part really was, that was the real point. And if  the only “wow” that was found was the one in their hearts as they discovered, “Wow, I never knew that, or realized that, or felt that before,” then that was “wow” enough for me.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

I knew you would love the idea! ...and I love the little boxes you already had, to add to it. The set up looks gorgeous!