Good morning blog. I know you’ve sat idle for some time and I’ll get back to why and what I’m doing about that. Today I’ll wake it up because recently I was asked a question that I think many parents will be considering this season.
Q: “What can my family do to take the focus off of ourselves and our own needs this Christmas season?”
I didn’t have a ready answer for this question. Instead I hummed and hawed with some response like “I’m more confused about that than ever.” And I am. But after giving the question a thought, I present you with these ideas.
1. Don’t do what you wouldn’t do all year.
The temptation for many is to make this the season when they volunteer at a homeless shelter, or start family times, or host some large scale outreach.
I’m not saying avoid traditional Christmas celebrations and activities. I’m saying avoid introducing new things to you family/church calendar with the hope of making a major corrective. The problem with these seasonally introduced activities is that they are often more ME directed than they should be. Homeless shelters need volunteers all year, but in this season, volunteers can become a burden to them as they get so many who come out for the holidays. Often these are driven by guilt or feelings of self satisfaction.
2. Don’t participate in the fullness of the commercialized season.
I’m not going to say to avoid it all together, but where you can, simplify. Shop locally. Buy no more than one or two small gifts per person. Make gifts special rather than trying to get everything on a child’s wish list.
3. Talk to your church leaders about points where the season (or Jesus) just becomes another commercial product.
Too many churches have taken a posture that the way to compete with the noise that the world makes in this season is to make more noise. Church leaders and church members should find quiet ways to speak of the Prince of Peace. One example is to shut down big church events and invite families to make a regular time of meeting with their neighbors.
4. Invite your neighbors over for egg nog (and then make this a regular practice).
Hang out. Cook dinner. Watch a game. Play a game. (Don’t start with a Bible study.)
Make a plan to downsize in the next year. That might mean selling one TV (rather than buying another). It might mean selling that $40,000 car and buying a $20,000 used car. It might mean selling your 3600 square foot McMansion in the hip part of town, to move into a 1400 square foot home in the more diverse neighborhood. Don’t use my ideas. Consider where your family can downsize. [Note: Don’t do this in the holiday season. See number 1. Plan it for the next year or so.] Once you downsize, figure out ways that you can use the money and time saved to be more of a neighbor to the people around you.