Eleven women from church gathered to drink tea and talk about the coming Christmas season. It was pleasantly warm so we sat on the porch. With teacups in hand and rosemary shortbread to nibble, we talked about the ways we celebrate Christmas. We represent a variety of styles and choices but all of us desire that Christ be the center of our celebration.
Here are a few of the ideas and traditions that folks told about:
Using an Advent calendar and/or wreath to focus our thoughts on the birth of Jesus during the weeks of Advent leading up to Christmas
Keeping the focus on Christ on Christmas day by not giving gifts on Christmas or having a tree, but celebrating with a Wise Man party on New Year’s.
Having a birthday cake for Jesus and letting a little one help bake and decorate it.
Setting up the tree in a less central location and making the crèche (manger scene) the focus in the main living space.
Not putting out gifts until just before time to open them so that the focus is not so much on the presents
Reading the gospel accounts of Jesus's birth together on Christmas Eve or morning.
Reading special stories each year that remind us of why Jesus came. Reading the same stories every year, stories that bind us together as a family because they are so familiar and beloved.
Singing Christmas hymns and carols during Advent as a family together
Making gifts rather than spending lots of time and money shopping; keeping gift giving simple; limiting the number of gifts
Traveling less, staying home and establishing family traditions
Doing something for someone less fortunate, participating in a service project in December
Having special foods that we only eat at this time of year that make the season specialMaking the Christmas Day or Christmas Eve service central
I am sure there were more but those are the ones that come to mind right now.
I'm so thankful for the women who came and shared a lovely Sunday afternoon together. I'm thankful for their thoughtfulness in the way they desire to glorify God in their lives and homes. I'm looking forward to more Sunday teatimes in the months ahead, probably not on the porch again for awhile, but just as enjoyable. I pray that these teatimes will help us encourage one another and continue fostering loving, joyful community in our church family.