My middle son had saved his birthday gift cards and finally redeemed them for a new DS game, which arrived in the mail on a Monday. We have a no electronics rule during the week, so he knew he would look at that game until Friday rolled around. But he also is quite crafty with words. “Hey, Mom, you know it’s a tradition that when I buy a new game, I play it the same day I get it.” He stopped talking then raised his eyes to meet mine.
“Impressive, my boy!”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, you know how I feel about traditions. Nice choice of words to try to persuade my heart over my head. Well played. But no.”
Traditions are a critical part of family life. Sometimes we need to break tradition, though. Sometimes, a tradition needs to be replaced.
Before our family became intentional with keeping Christ at the center of Christmas, we would encourage our boys to make a Christmas wish list of everything they wanted. Want to create a monster? This is a good way to do it! They begin to obsess about what they want. One of my boys would become greatly stressed about having to come up with material things he wanted because his nature is not to focus on these things. It was very uncomfortable for him. Expectations became too high to meet.
Just because something is a tradition doesn’t mean we are bound to it. Sometimes a tradition needs to change shape.
So we got rid of the Christmas wish lists. We don’t ask for them. We don’t even discuss them anymore. We did replace them with another kind of list. A treasure hunting list we are keeping for the true gifts of Christmas.
Sometimes the gifts don’t appear in plain sight. Sometimes the gifts aren’t wrapped in Pinterest posed packages. Sometimes the gifts aren’t extravagant. Sometimes the gifts are quiet, subtle, unnoticeable…..unless you are hunting for them.
The Christmas season is here. In America it can’t be missed. On one hand this leaves me grateful. On the other hand, I am saddened when I see what aspects of Christmas receive the most attention, the most hype. Typically those same things are what silently robs us of joy and leaves us panting for rest, finishing the season with a big, “Whew, we survived.”
Oh, friends, my heart is filled with this passion for honoring Christ as Christmas. He didn’t come to burden us with to-do’s. He came to do for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves.
He came to do. He doesn’t need our to-do’s.
Instead of filling our to-do’s with finding the perfect gifts for our kids, planning magical surprises to delight, scouring social media for the latest, newest, creative expression of Christmas magic, turn it over to him. Let go of the pressure to create magic. The magic is here. Waiting to be found. Hunt for it rather than burden yourself with creating it.
The flurry of Christmas buries the gifts of Christmas. The true gifts. The gifts of hope, love, peace, and joy. So we must hunt them out.
Though we do the elf hiding, the present buying, and the party hopping, I don’t want my boys to think that is Christmas. I don’t want them to think the excitement is in the temporary. The true magic of Christmas is less obvious. It’s hidden in the humble. It’s hidden in the simple. It’s hidden in the sacrifice.
We are hunting this Christmas season. Treasure hunting for the true gifts of Christmas. Hope, love, peace, and joy. Each day we are choosing one and hunting all day long. Today is love in our home. We are looking for all the ways we received love today. We are looking for all the opportunities we have to share love today.
We are making a list, checking it more than twice.
It’s a new kind of Christmas wish list. Forget the list of what they want. Make a list of what their souls need.
I don’t want my boys spending weeks pining away over endless wants for things. Things that days after Christmas will break, be shoved under a bed, be placed in a donation box. I want them to learn to seek the gifts that matter. I want them to learn what it means to give over receiving. But I want them to experience the satisfaction of receiving the gifts that matter so they are encouraged to give that to someone else. All in the name of Christ.
We are seeking Christmas. Truly seeking Christmas by seeking the gifts of Christmas.
Would you join us in a new, simple, tradition? A treasure hunt of daily looking for the gifts He brings and the gifts He gives us to give back out. Treasure hunting takes practice and discipline.
Find the true gifts of Christmas this season. Hope, love, peace, and joy. This trumps any Christmas magic we try to create on our own. Because it’s real, it’s lasting. It’s eternal.
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