Last year as I was getting ready to celebrate Christmas with my family, I prayed that God would show me a new way we could celebrate. I was tired of doing the exact same thing each year. I felt as if something was missing. The focus was too much on gifts (not that they are bad) and not enough on our reason for the season.
I wanted my kids to have a real tangible way they could know what it's all about. God gave me this idea.
We have a "Jesus" stocking.
We pull it out on December 1st and hang it in a prominent location in our home. Next to the stocking we have an envelope full of slips of paper. They very simply state at the top, "Today I..."
The idea is that we are giving gifts to Jesus. Each day we ask Him what He would like from us. This can be a wide range of ideas.
Some of the easier ideas: Give up the close parking spot for someone at a store. Leave your quarter in the shopping cart. Let someone go in front of you in line. Hold the door open for someone. It could be anything, the ideas are endless.
Some of my kid's ideas have been: Let someone else choose the movie we watch. Share part of your snack. Play a game with your sibling and let them choose which one. Give a pencil to a friend at school. Share your eraser.
There's also some ways you can give things to Jesus that are a little bit more difficult. Apologize to someone when you don't want to. Give grace to a friend or family member. Do the right thing even when it's difficult.
These are all just a few ideas. The point is to be aware of other people and to try to be Jesus' hands reaching out.
Every night before bed, we make sure to write down our gifts on a slip of paper and hide them in the stocking. On Christmas morning, the first thing we do, after we've sung Happy Birthday to Jesus and ate His birthday breakfast cake, we sit down by the Christmas tree and take turns reading the gifts to Jesus. We don't necessarily read our own either. We grab one from the pile and present our gift that we worked all month long making.
It's really been a fun way to celebrate the season, and it keeps our focus on the giving part, not the getting. I hope and pray that Jesus likes His present this year!