the greatest gift of all

Intentional, my word for this holiday season. Intentional with my time, focus more on my family, and the true meaning of Christmas. As I prepared for Christmastime, I purchased Unwrapping the Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp and pulled out my copy of her devotional, The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas. It’s been such a season for learning for me. Revisiting the Christmas story by teaching my little ones of His birth made me think of details that I had not before. (Yes, the stable probably did smell like animal poop. Good question, Joy Belle.) And being a mother gave me such a new respect and admiration for Mary.

If you’ve never participated in the tradition of advent, I highly recommend the books mentioned above. As much as I enjoyed my devotional in December, reading Unwrapping the Greatest Gift to the kids was just as meaningful, if not more.

We were also more intentional about talking about Christmas being Jesus’ birthday and making Christmas Day something the little ones could understand. We even had cupcakes and sang “Happy Birthday to Jesus” to celebrate. Joy Belle’s love language is chocolate, so she would probably tell you this was her favorite part.

Another tradition we started this year was limiting gifts for the children. I remember the aftermath of Joy Belle’s first Christmas and thinking, how did we end up with so much stuff? Since then, I have heard others say they only do three gifts – like Jesus received – and a stocking. I really liked the concept and decided it was a good place to start. Three gifts for each of them, plus a stocking is still more than they need.

We purposefully chose something they wanted, something to read, and something to wear. After planning and shopping, I read about “something to share” and decided to include a game that we could play together as a family.

Did you catch my post about traditions of service? If so, you know we start reading The Giving Manger after Thanksgiving, in hope of teaching that giving is receiving. While Britt is still young for this tradition, it was really incredible to see how much Joy Belle remembered from last year. She was actually eager to give our neighbors, her friends, and her teachers gifts. We filled our little manger full of straw this year and created a warm bed for baby Jesus.

To me, Christmas truly is the most wonderful time of the year. I can’t wait to see how our children embrace these traditions and how we continue to create new ones as they grow. What are some of your favorite holiday traditions? Do you have any fun ones for ringing in the New Year?


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