Today is the first Sunday of Advent. The candle has been lit, the streets are white with snow, and the sound of Joy to the World still echoes in my ears from this morning’s church service.
The Christmas season has begun.
Hubby and I have been busy making Christmas lists, planning celebrations, and I have at least ten homemade projects already on the go. (Tutorials for evergreen Christmas wreaths and homemade envelopes will be up on Artisan in the Woods soon!)
But as much as I love the bows and ribbons, papers and cards, decorations and gifts, I know Christmas means so much more.
And as family begins to ask us what we want for Christmas, we are reminded just how very blessed we are in that our lists reflect beautiful things that we want, because we already have everything we really need.
It was out of this feeling and understanding that a new giving tradition has been born in my extended family.
Many extended families have become creative with gift giving over the years. Gift swaps, drawing names, gifts for kids only, gifts for the whole family to share, homemade gifts only, and card parties are just a few of the ways that families I know have chosen to celebrate the season of giving with each other, and as a way to lessen the number of gifts each family member needs to buy.
In my extended family, we decided that rather than trying to fill stockings with our wants, we would instead come together to help meet the needs of others. This endeavour has had us shopping for Christmas dinner for families in need, giving gifts to those who otherwise wouldn’t have any, sharing gifts of love and handmade items to those who struggle through the season, and putting our hands and hearts into serving others. Even my young nephews are involved in the gift-giving and love-sharing.
And this giving to others is also a gift to each other. A gift of time spent together doing something worthwhile. A gift of counting our blessings together and knowing we have more than enough. The gift of watching the children among us grow in their understanding that Christmas is more than Santa and gifts under the tree.
When we come together as an extended family for Christmas dinner we may not be passing each other shiny-wrapped presents, but we share in the joy of the season and allow time spent together and warm embraces to be our gifts of the day. It has become one of my favourite parts of celebrating the holidays together.
It came without ribbons,
It came without tags,
It came without packages, boxes, or bags.
Christmas can’t be bought from a store…
Maybe Christmas means a little bit more.
~ Dr. Seuss
How do you share Christmas with your extended family?