I have been meaning to write about something that the girls and I will be doing this year for Advent. My friend Andrea (who I tend to reference frequently on here) is leading the way with her three girls and I am inviting you and your kids to join us! In order to teach our children more about Jesus than santa, we are choosing to use the first 25 days of December to give. Each day we will be doing a different activity with the goal of blessing others. Some of our ideas include sending homemade Christmas cards to the housebound elderly in our church, making a care package for my friend’s dad who will be deployed in Iraq on Christmas, making Christmas cards for our dear friends in Honduras at The Micah Project , taking treats to our local fire station, spending a day learning and praying for the people of Uganda (The Doc will be spending a month there in February working at a clinic), taking canned food to a food bank, giving away toys the girls don’t play with anymore, and the list goes on. There are millions of options. I have used a big piece of easel paper to make a calendar so that each morning the girls can come out and I can read what we will be doing that day. Once I get all of the dates filled in, I’ll post a pic as well as a list of our activities. I would love to hear your ideas and hope your family will consider joining us!
I find myself already becoming quite nauseated with all of the commercials about shopping and all of the excess that comes with the holiday season. Even the word “holidays” makes my stomach turn a bit. Doc and I watched a documentary the other night entitled “God Grew Tired of Us,” which was about some of the Lost Boys of Sudan and their experience coming from a Kenyan refugee camp to the United States. One of the young men talked about his utter confusion regarding our celebration of Christmas. He asked “who is santa?” and why do we celebrate him? He then explained what a huge celebration they had back home, all for the purpose of celebrating Jesus’ birthday. I found myself wondering along with him why something that in its simplicity is so marvelous, has been lost and covered up by culture. Sure we could tell him the story of Saint Nicholas and explain how those in our country who do not believe in Jesus choose to celebrate him on Christmas day. The problem though, is that many of us who say we believe in Jesus have also lost sight of what it’s really about and have made santa, buying big on “Black Friday” and hosting the perfect party our main goals. If my family’s Christmas celebration looks the same as my atheist neighbor’s than something is terribly wrong!! It is fine to include santa in your day, but making him the central figure is not okay. If the first question you are inclined to ask another child on Christmas morning is “What did santa bring you,” that might be a sign that your priorities are out of whack. When BQ, after hearing nothing from Doc or I about santa, asked me last year if Christmas was santa’s birthday I was horrified. But, how I can I expect her to draw a different conclusion when all she sees in the world around her are men in costumes at the mall, cards with the jolly guy’s face, and people asking her on a daily basis what she wants santa to bring her for Christmas. This is where I feel the burden to teach her that we, as people who love and know God, must choose to be different. What are your thoughts? How are you and your family going to celebrate this year?
And so the 25 Days of Giving emerges as just a small way to try and refocus, reenergize, and restart our hearts to focus on that day long ago when the God of all creation humbled himself, taking on human form, and met us here on earth. Not because he had to, not because we deserved it, but because he really is that good and that great. Why in the world would we ever need more to celebrate than the most ultimate gift of all?