Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Christmas Resolutions

Caroline and I just finished our Christmas thank yous a couple days ago. Normally, this accomplishment would be the very last Christmas-related thing we would do. But I am doing something different this January than I have other years--still thinking about Christmas instead of packing it all up and storing it until next December. Every year after the holiday, I have a pretty good mental list of all the things I would like to do differently in the next year. But I don't stop and write anything down or spend time really thinking more about it once the new year gets underway.

So this year I am thinking more about Christmas resolutions than New Year's resolutions. I want to really evaluate how we celebrated Christ's birth this year and in years past and how we could do things differently in the future.

In 2006 I came across a website that outlines a plan for beginning Christmas preparations October 21 and completing everything by December 1. The idea is that if you follow this plan and do certain tasks each week, you will have a calmer, less stressful, and more joyful Christmas holiday and a more peaceful December.

The site offers helpful printables and articles, all for free. Whether or not you follow the outlined plan perfectly, it definitely provides some food for thought and an organizational framework. How nice would it be to have everything done by December 1 and then spend the rest of the month just enjoying family, observing traditions, and worshiping Jesus?

The concept is great, but I have to remember that there is more to a joyful Christmas than super organization--and that super organization, in and of itself, won't really transform my Christmas. Only Christ will. The centrality of Christ's birth at Christmas time is something I've always acknowledged, but I have also gotten caught up in all the goings on of the season and haven't let this truth really sink into my heart.

So I'm letting it sink in now, and I am thinking of ways to thank God for giving us Christ all throughout the year. And I am making plans for this December, even though it's January.

I was super excited in the midst of all this evaluating to find a book that deals specifically with incorporating into your family life daily routines and holiday traditions that center around God and honor him. It's called Treasuring God in Our Traditions by Noel Piper. The night I found the book I was so eager to dig in that I read most of it online (available for free download). It is packed with insight and truth and excellent suggestions. I've borrowed a copy of the book from a friend and am going to go through it again throughout the rest of this month and think on the questions it poses:

Guiding Questions for all our Traditions all Year
(from Treasuring God in Our Traditions)
  • What is my greatest treasure? What is most precious to me?
  • How do I reflect and express that treasure in my life?
  • How can I pass that treasure on to my children and others within my circle?
Along with this, I want to consider the questions I've been asking all along and give thought to what I would like to incorporate into next Christmas.

My Christmas Resolutions, in no certain order
and some of them only in question form:

In regard to gift giving and receiving
  • Buy gifts as I think of them for someone all throughout the year and save them for Christmas
  • Put more emphasis on the thought behind a gift than a spending amount
  • Do something with Caroline to teach her about giving in general and, in particular, to those in need
  • Evaluate how much we spend at Christmas just to spend and try to determine better ways to celebrate with that money (more giving, using it towards time together with family instead of lots of gifts)
  • Emphasize giving over getting with Caroline and approach the presents like they are just an extra treat, not the main idea
In regard to being more organized
  • What things did I really want to get done before Christmas this year and wasn't able to? (making some handmade or sentimental gifts, starting a new tradition with Caroline, reaching out to the neighbors with a small gift . . . )
  • When can I make time to work on some of those ideas or gifts throughout the year in order to have them done by next Christmas?
  • What can I do ahead of time this year in order to be more organized?
In regard to being more worshipful
  • How do I acknowledge the significance of Christ's birth in my heart and through my actions?
  • What can I do (activity, tradition) to acknowledge the significance of Christ's birth in our home?
  • How can I prepare my heart for Christmas?
  • What can we do as a family to teach Caroline the spiritual significance of Christmas?
  • See Treasuring God questions . . .
So there you have it, in case you were wondering what was going in my head lately. :) Maybe I'll have to start a segment on this blog called, "What Amber thinks" since these things really have nothing to do with "what Caroline says. " I'll be back with plenty more of that, to be sure!


  1. This is great, Amber. I've also been thinking about how to improve my Christmas.

    And while you’re focusing on how to help Caroline understand the true meaning of Christmas, my focus has been on how to do Christmas without loosing a little bit of my sanity with each passing year. I went to 9 pre-Christmas parties and had 5 different family things between Christmas Eve & Christmas Day! Once it was all over, I was really glad I had a whole year to figure out how to be a little less committed.

    I also want to finish my Christmas crafts earlier…I started them early enough, but I took my time more than I should.


  2. What a great post, Amber. You write so thoughtfully...very plesant to read. I actually have a Christmas craft that I would like to do now...it's a decorative thing so I'd like to have it before Christmas. I also like the idea of buying gifts for people as I see them and think of that person throughout the year. I've always tried to buy gifts that truly remind me of the person, rather than from a list...but there's always that last difficult person to buy for who ends up getting, oh, a shirt or sweater or something!

    Well, you've got me thinking. :)

  3. I love buying gifts early when I see them... the problem is, I like to give them early too! It's hard to wait for Christmas, but you got me wanting to persevere! :)

    Nice, thoughtful blog. It's good to hear what's on your mind.

  4. Very thought-provoking and timely, since you give us almost a year to evaluate the past holiday and plan for next Christmas! Last year, Mara was born on Christmas Day, and this year we moved on December 15, so I'm hoping NEXT Christmas I will be able to plan more and have a refreshing holiday season, rather than a crazy one. :-) You're inspiring to me!!! Thank you!!!

  5. So nice to hear from all of you on one post. :)

    Maybe when Christmas time rolls around this year I can get some more of your guys' ideas.