Christmas: From Overload to Overjoyed

How we got here

It began when the kids were young.

We longed to see their delight as they walked slowly down the stairs on Christmas morn, eyes growing larger with each step as the gifts came into view. I arranged them so that it would look like they poured out from under the tree, giving the impression of great abundance. With as many gifts as there were, I always feared there were not enough.

I was seeking to express my love to my children through gifts. I loved much and gave much. Isn’t that what we parents always do? Don’t we tell ourselves that God gave much to us to show His love, so we must give much to show our love?

The questions we began to ask

But when showing our love is more about counting the number of gifts, and adding up the value given to assure we are giving equally to each, and finding useless gizmos and gadgets to fill stockings, are we really teaching our children about love?

When they’ve opened all those gifts and broken a toy before breakfast is eaten, and cast off all but a few after  playing with them for only a week, have we really taught them about giving?

And when to prepare for this day we’ve poured over their lists of dozens of wants, are we really giving for their needs as God did in giving His Son as the Messiah?

live the gospelDiscovering a different way

Last Christmas we were ready for a change.

In my blog reading, I came across Christmas Change and soaked up the thoughts and ideas of others. What a treasure it was to see how Christmas could be different. How Christmas could be celebrated by truly giving God’s love.

Preparing the Way

But how do you make the change?

We decided to embrace the Christmas Change tag line:

a season of change, a life of return

We began by making some changes to the season. A few less gifts, a bit more giving. And we planned for the next year {this year}. As a family we decided that we like the idea of giving three gifts to each child in remembrance of the three gifts of the Magi; and my husband and I decided that we wouldn’t exchange any gifts with one another.

Then we sought how to live a life of return. This past year has brought about a lot of change in how we give.

A new Christmas Joy

This Christmas we’re spending time each day of Advent preparing for the celebration of Christ’s coming. We are delighted to be using a Jesse Tree to count down the days as we prepare hearts.

If it weren’t for a mischievous pup, our manger scene would be under our tree this year. Instead it’s nearby, and we’ve added a shepherd and sheep because it was the shepherds, the least of these, who first heard the Good News of Christ’s birth.

Under the tree will be gifts for family, but fewer than in the past, and if gifts made sounds, the bleating of goats or the quack of ducks might be heard.

For our kids, there will indeed be three gifts for each. Waiting a year for big changes has given our children a chance to grow in giving as well. While they are thrilled to be receiving three gifts, they are more excited about how much we will be giving to the least of these. Their wants don’t seem nearly as important as the needs of others. In fact, they’ve had a difficult time even thinking of three things to request. The shift in their focus has been as great as ours.

A highlight of Christmas this year will be a special online shopping trip on Christmas Eve at the World Vision Catalog. This is our true gift of love. The love of Christ.

A spark of change last Christmas gave rise to a year of change. A year of change is bringing about a radically different Christmas this year. We’ve gone from Christmas overload to feeling overjoyed.

And we’re delighting in the life of return.

Perhaps you’ll catch the spark of Christmas Change this year. I encourage you to seek the life of return.

In hope,

About Shelli Bourque

An ordinary girl living by the grace of life in Christ. Adoring wife and mom. Lover of quiet places and uncluttered spaces. Beauty seeker and image maker.