Ready For Christmas

Have you ever been asked, “Are you ready for Christmas?”  I sure have – quite a bit as a matter of fact – and my answer has changed over the years.  It used to be, “Well, not quite. I still have to get one more thing for …” and this was usually just a couple of days before Christmas. Now I answer with a confident, “Yes, I am.  Can I share with you how I managed it all and kept it under $200?” This answer has led to many discussions where I am usually able to share how I felt convicted of the way I used to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior. And I trust God that He has used my conversations and my example to others as they ponder what the meaning of Christmas is to them.

I’d love to share some of my simple yet very practical ways that I celebrate. First, I completely changed my style of decorating. I love the recent video posted titled, “What is the Meaning of This?” because I could never figure out what the Christmas tree had to do with Christ’s birth. I haven’t had a Christmas tree in my home for about 15 years now. I do, however, decorate with candle lights in each window of my house. I call them my “prayer lights” or my “Jesus shines lights” because every night I go around and turn them on one at a time while I pray for someone at each one, and I pray again when I turn them each off. And because these are pretty all winter long, I have them up from November until February. With candle lights in 14 windows, up for over 100 days, I get to pray for a lot of people! If I decorate a table, I tend to stick with royal colors to acknowledge Christ’s kingship. I love nativity scenes and even have a wooden block set, so that when children are visiting, they can freely play with the figures.

My gift-buying has turned into time-giving. With my girlfriends, I’ve asked them to come over for some tea and an in-depth conversation about anything. In some cases, I knew what they needed to talk about; in other relationships, I just relied on God to lead the conversation. And with still others, I knew they just needed some time to prepare for the holiday themselves, so I offered to watch their children, or help them wrap gifts, or bake cookies. 

I have also learned to handwrite Christmas cards only to those friends and relatives I do not see regularly.   My hope is to start writing early enough so that I can write one or two letters a night instead of rushing to write to everyone the last week in December. I imagine spending more time on each card would be much more enjoyable and I would be more passionate about sharing all that God has done in my life over the year.  I am still working on this one and would love to hear of anyone else’s experiences here.  Please share!

And lastly, I have worked very hard at changing the way I approach others around Christmas. Instead of the usual questions like, “How was your holiday?” or “What did you get for Christmas?” I started asking questions that related the season to what God was doing in their lives. I ask my friends, “How was Christ more real to you this year compared to last year?” and “Are you closer to Christ after the celebration, or are you frantically looking for time with Him?” I ask my family questions like, “How did we reflect Christlikeness in a certain situation?” and “Where or when did you see or witness Christlikeness being shown?” These questions have really moved the focus off of self on to what God is doing during the Christmas celebration.

I admit that some family and friends have not grasped the same vision that my husband I have. I take the approach of just doing it and letting people around me observe. I don’t ask others to change their traditions, and tend to only share when asked. I have gotten much more positive reactions this way. Others like what they see, and wish they could have the same. 

I am so thrilled to be part of a church that shares this same vision.  I am looking forward to learning from everyone at Blackhawk – yes, let’s enter the true meaning of Christmas… together.

I can’t help but end this note by connecting it to the October 19th message. A lot of my past traditional ways of celebrating Christmas had to do with coveting. As I look back, I can see where I coveted my neighbors’ decorations, even thought about how much others gave and received for Christmas, and realized that my giving habits may have even contributed to feeding someone else’s coveting challenges. Convicting enough for me.

Written by Stacey Gluck

2 Responses to “Ready For Christmas”

  1. 1 Maureen November 4, 2008 at 10:52 am

    Thank you for your comments on how you celebrate the Christmas season. I love it. I am going to reduce the cards I send to those who I do not see, offer more time for tea (yes!), and pray when lighting the candles in the window. Thank you for your suggestions.

  2. 2 Laura Lazewski November 4, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Writing Christmas cards is probably my favorite Christmas tradition. I’ll admit I send quite a few, even some to those I see on a regular basis. But, I am a writer. My first year out of college I started writing an annual Christmas letter. Yes – the letter my parents made fun of my entire childhood. I love that writing the letter forces me to take time to reflect on the past year. I also enjoy reading the last few letters I wrote in preperation for writing the current year’s letter. That really shows how far I’ve come, or in some cases, how far I’ve gone from where I should be.

    At first I was self-conscious about including my letter with the card, but the positive responses I’ve received have been awesome. I love receiving “real mail” and know my friends do as well. It’s neat to know that my bachelor uncle awaits his card in the mail and then calls my entire family to talk about it. I always include a personal note in each card, often filling most of the white space. What can I say? I have a lot to talk about!

    I love everything about Christmas cards. I even enjoy sticking the stamp on the front and finding a fun Christmas sticker to put over the seal on the back. And there are just so many cards to choose from! My dad’s leftovers, the ones the non-profit organizations mail my grandpa and whatever I’ve picked up at garage sales over the years. For me the most costly part of mailing cards is by far the stamps!

    My advice for people who are questioning if sending cards is worth the effort is to stop and evaluate. Is it something you enjoy or dread? Are there people in your life who would love to hear from you? What are your motives? Also – from the prospective of someone who loves Christmas cards…if you are only going to sign your name at the bottom, don’t bother. I’d rather you use your time and money doing something else you enjoy.

    If you decide to send some cards, I highly recommend starting early. Take an evening and address all of your envelopes at once. That way when you have a few minutes you can just write out the card, stick it in the envelope and be done with it. I’ve done this twice for my grandpa and he’s so greatful. I do his cards the first week of November so he’s got almost two months to leisurely write a personal message in each card.

    If you decide Christmas cards are a tradition for you, I hope you find much joy in sending your love in a Christmas card.

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Act Local: Share gifts of time and resources with those in our community. At the Impact Tree in the Atrium, find opportunities available for individuals, families and life groups. All the information you need will be on the cards by the Tree. Take a card – put an ornament on the tree.

Give Global: On Sunday, December 13 during services, we'll take up an Advent Conspiracy offering (a direct result of spending less) to give towards clean water projects and wheelchair needs in Honduras, Kenya and Romania. If you won’t be able to join us at services on that day but still want to participate, just write "Advent" in the memo of your check and drop it in any of the offering boxes.


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