It’s that time of year

when the world all goes nuts. 😀

After living in the land of Oz – not to be confused with the land of OZ, right Val  😉  – we moved to the suburbs of Chicago.  With that move, I added something new into my life as a child – the wonder of Chicago at Christmas time.

Every year, shortly after Thanksgiving, I remember wandering through the center of town (or at least MY idea of the center of town – meaning around Fields and Carsons) with my face pressed firmly against the glass of the stores, my fingers hidden deep inside my muff and my warm fur hat tied on tightly, as the wind tugged fiercely at it.

A trip to Chicago at Christmas time was always special. It meant hours of window shopping – gazing at the creative whimsy of the marketing staff.  It meant the smell of roasted chestnuts being sold on the corners.  (Warm chestnuts with drizzled butter and salt sprinkled on them….mmmm) It meant Frangos from Marshall Field.  It meant being spritzed with cologne at Carson Pirie Scott.  (For the clerks, it meant washing my nose prints off the glass cases, where I’d wander along staring in at the lovely things in the cases – kid leather gloves, Irish linen hankies, cashmere scarves…sigh)

It meant the sound of many Salvation Army bells being rung.  It meant Christmas carols being played loudly.  Every year contained something new and wondrous. It was a day of fun and magic, in my mind – and it usually ended with dinner in Chinatown.

However, year in and year out, there was always one constant. It was in December.

Okay, so it’s the beginning of November and last night, on our mini-date, we saw numerous homes with holiday decorations up. I don’t just mean lights strung in trees, I mean we saw places that had – and had LIT – obvious Christmas decorations.  Holly banners and Santas standing in yards.

I confess, I’m a Christmas-aholic.  I love the holidays.  It’s something that me Mum did to me.  😀  (My father is a confessed Scrooge, so I know it’s a maternal “gift.”)  I love the colors of the holidays and I love the smells of the holidays and I love the tastes of the holidays.  Already this year, Jeff and I have had our annual holiday meeting with the children to find out what is of most importance to them this year.

One of the things that Jeff and I have been wrestling with for the past few years is the celebration of Thanksgiving.  We struggle with having one day to celebrate the goodness of the Lord.  Isn’t that what our weekly Sabbath is for?  Any more, it seems that Thanksgiving is nothing more than doorway for entry of the “official” Christmas season.  (I can’t just say “the entry”, because our “local” Lowes has had their Christmas display up for several weeks now.)

With that in mind, this year, we’re going to do something a bit different.  We too, are going to join the crowd and make Thanksgiving the entry door of the Christmas season.  On Thanksgiving day, we’re going to give the children the dollar figure of the special tithe we’ve been saving up, that they are able to use for their gifts of Jesus this year.  We are going to have a time of prayer, asking the Lord to bless this season, helping us keep our hearts set aside for Him alone and to protect us from distraction.

We will spend those days between Thanksgiving and December 1st preparing our homes, our lives, our pantry and the gifts we desire to share with our neighbors.  On the night of November 30th, we will put the names of our neighbors each on a separate piece of paper.  We will list out each of the cookies we intend to bake and put those on a separate piece of paper, as well. (This is not a huge number of cookies, I might add – neither time nor finances will allow for that.)  We will put the names of our favorite holiday books on a piece of paper and the difference between the total of all these slips of paper and the number 25 will be filled with “Make Christmas Cocoa”  (Which if you’re at all a regular reader of Javadawn, you know is an art in itself.)  😉

All those slips of paper will go into our holiday cookie jar and it will sit on the island in the kitchen.  Each morning, after devotions, we will draw one.  It will become our interactive Advent calendar.  What we draw will become our act of worship for that day – as a gift toward Christ Jesus for His birthday.

During the month, the children will take their allotted birthday money for Jesus and choose gifts that they would give in His Name to His people and create/find something that would indicate what they are giving.  That symbol will then be wrapped and placed under the tree.  Christmas morning, what we will open is one another’s gifts to Jesus. Those gifts that would go to Samaritan’s Purse or World Vision, etc, will be given, as a whole, as a family, around the computer later in the afternoon on Christmas day.

We have decided, that by giving ourselves totally to the advance preparation of the celebration of the birth of our Lord, then we will be less likely to be distracted or taken off guard.  We will have a better opportunity to be purposeful in our focus of Him.

SO, you say, are we going to do about Thanksgiving??  Well, I have two words for you: Sabbath and Sukkot.

2 Responses to “It’s that time of year”
  1. Lynn in Alaska says:

    Whoa, you scared me there for a minute. We had our lights up the end of October. You have to understand that the days are already very short here in Alaska and it looks so cheery to have the white lights strung along the porch and some colored lights on a tree. But no Santas yet, I promise!

    I so appreciate hearing about how your holidays center around Jesus and what you can give Him and the people around you. I’ve needed to hear this – I’ve needed an attitude adjustment. Lately I’ve not wanted to be around people and have thought “life is too short to spend with people I don’t like.” Sheesh! How’s that for self-centered and just plain U.G.L.Y.? Thanks for sharing and I’m praying I can see God’s people through His eyes this holiday season.

  2. javadawn says:

    Honey, if I had to look forward to hanging winter lights in AK in December, mine would be up in October too. 😀

    You know, even when we have planned to keep Jesus as the center of our holiday, somehow, if we don’t do the work ahead of time, it just all gets lost in the shuffle. (Which I must confess REALLY annoys me.)

    That’s part of why this year, we are going to “skip” Thanksgiving, per se’, (we will have a focus on the blessing of our nation when we celebrate July 4th.) and instead totally focus on being prepared to celebrate the birth of our Lord.

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