Each year, with more little eyes and more little ears and more little feet padding their way around our nest, I’ve been hungry to find traditions that would celebrate this most wonderful time of the year with reverence and sincerity. The commercialism seems to get bolder. The advertising seems to get better. And a few weeks ago, my eldest asked if he could start working on his wish list with some help from Amazon.

How do we glorify the Presence and de-emphasize the presents?

We’ll hang lights and remember the Light coming into our dark world.

An evergreen tree will go up, and we’ll remember the One who died on a tree, and how that tree gives us everlasting life.

I’m hungry to communicate the greatness of this incredible Presence — the arrival of the Messiah. This changes everything.  This is why we want to lead lives that honor God. This is why we want to show kindness to the least of these.

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A few years ago, I tried creatively placing the little elf around the house. It just wasn’t a good fit. I watched last year as folks decorated with powdered sugar footprints, came up with creative stunts, and competed to post the best imagery of elf shenanigans on social media. For us, it continued to emphasize the presents. Be good for the presents. The elf is watching. I just couldn’t put so much effort into something that is pointing away from the place I am trying to direct these little hearts’ attention.

Could there be a bright alternative?

Could we aim to forget the stacks of presents? Because this Presence — it’s the Greatest Gift of all time!

This year, in the days leading up to Christmas, we’re starting a new tradition. One that draws a line from Creation to the Cross, and sheds new light on the meaning of the manger.

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Unwrapping the Greatest Gift, by Ann Voskamp, is a Family Celebration of Christmas. Starting December 1st, there is a lesson each day, right up to the 25th. You’re invited to create your own Jesse Tree — a tree you’ve made, perhaps from branches in your backyard — where you can hang ornaments that relate to each of the daily devotions you’ll read as a family. The activities related to each lesson involve things like praying about ways your family can give and serve others over the holidays (and all year long) or making a list of things you’re grateful for.

I’m envisioning creating these opportunities for meaningful connection with our kids at Christmas.

For it all to point to the one thing I want my children to know in this season: Jesus is the Greatest Gift.

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I’m very excited to do this together, as a family, this holiday season. The book is beautifully illustrated, and each lesson includes thoughts to discuss and family activities — all written to point to the significance of the coming of the Messiah, all encouraging us to anticipate and celebrate the arrival of Christ.

In addition to Unwrapping the Greatest Gift, last year Voskamp’s book, The Greatest Gift, was released. This devotional is about “Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas” and was written with adults in mind. It was named the Christian Retailer’s Devotional of the Year for 2014 and is absolutely worth considering in addition to the family celebration, or on its own. (They do cover the same themes and correlate to one another, but they are definitely not the same book.) The devotion draws you in to deeply considering the meaning of the lineage of Christ, and the love story of His coming.

{Voskamp has been one of my most favorite writers for quite some time and you might enjoy her website (very much) — aholyexperience.com. She is also the author of One Thousand Gifts, which is a life-changingly awesome NY Times Bestseller that would make a great gift and I hope you will read it if you haven’t already. It. Is. So. Good.}

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So friends, consider this an invitation from me to you to consider welcoming some new traditions into your Advent Season. I’m excited about finding something to help our family truly celebrate the Savior this season and I’m excited to share it with you.

I’ll continue to write and reflect on the glorious goodness of the Savior throughout the season, but I wanted to tell you now, because there’s still time to grab a copy of one or both of these wonderful books, and allow them to bring your family into some meaningful conversation about the Presence, that might draw focus away from the presents! Don’t worry if you don’t jump in on December 1st!

And? I’d love to hear from you! Have any questions for me? Are you hungry to put more meaning into your celebrations this season? What is your family doing to point to the Christ in Christmas?

xCC

 

Just so’s ya knows — This post was not sponsored by Ann Voskamp or Tyndale Publishers. I bought both books and was excited to share them with you in case you’d like to create some new traditions with your family this season. The links to Amazon are affiliate links. You might also find the books priced well at christianbook.com — we just found it cheaper with free shipping at Amazon. :)

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