This isn’t a list of musts and shoulds. I’m pretty sure we all have enough of those on our plate right now and we’re eagerly awaiting the day when things slow down…Christmas is done, the presents are opened, our bellies are full, and we can just have a moment without a pressing must-do or should-do list.
So, there are no obligations in this post. These are things I’ve enjoyed that aren’t as mainstream as caroling, gingerbread, and watching Elf.
If I enjoyed them, you might, too…
Secrets in the Dark
Last week, we had the privilege of attending a Jason Gray concert at our church. We saw him in February and it was an evening that was good for the soul. It was worshipful and encouraging. The day of the Christmas concert, though, was on the heels of a busy week and I was fighting a headache all day. It was tempting to stay home and Jeff even gave me that option. But, it didn’t feel like one more thing to do…it felt like something I needed to do. For myself.
And I’m so glad I did because it was a wonderful night. As a part of the concert, he read a couple of stories from a book he drew inspiration from for his Christmas album. I loved the writing style and the way the author brought Bible stories to life in a way that puts you in the shoes of the players in that story. It’s easy to think of the shepherds, kings, innkeeper, etc. as characters, not as real people. But they were real people and while they were in a different time and place, they weren’t so different from us.
As Jason was reading, I kept trying to get an angle to see the title of the book or the author, but I was sitting on the wrong side and there wasn’t much hope I’d be able to read the title even if I had a good vantage point. So, after the concert, I slinked up on stage and took a picture of the cover. The book is Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons and I immediately put it in my Amazon shopping cart. I’m looking forward to reading more.
The Man Who Invented Christmas
I watched this movie last year and it will be a Christmas movie staple for me. It’s the story of how Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol and changed the way we view and celebrate Christmas. I also loved watching the portrayal of his creative process…walking through the streets of London looking for characters, collecting names and inspiration.
You can rent or buy this movie on iTunes or it’s available through the Showtime subscription on Amazon Prime. Here’s the official trailer (and it is kid-friendly)…
Non-Junk Stocking Stuffers
Let me gripe about stocking stuffers for a minute. Advertisers promote gift cards and small electric gadgets, candy, and junky toys for stocking stuffers. Now, I’m all for buying the kids some treats and putting them in their stocking, but I cringe at the “stocking stuffer aisle” that is filled with junk no one will care about or want in a week. And the good stuff, the gift cards and electronics add up so fast! You could spend hundreds of dollars on stuffers before you even get to the “big presents!” It doesn’t feel thoughtful, but like something that has to be done to fill a specific space.
Okay, rant done.
So, I wanted to share what my parents did. They got a few small presents and filled up the rest of the space with seasonal fruits and nuts. And every Christmas morning, I would peel, section, and eat a couple of my clementines as I opened presents.
The ones we didn’t eat right away ended up in the nut bowl or the fruit bowl, but I never remember feeling disappointed or shortchanged. And, you can always mix in some chocolate and candy canes. Hershey Kisses are always a winner with my boys.
Jeff picked out this boardgame for the boys last year and it’s been a real winner. It is a “settler” game where you build villages, cities, and roads, while collecting and trading resources. It’s complicated enough to make the game interesting, but it has a clear end to it (unlike a game like Monopoly that I don’t think I’ve ever finished in my life!) There are also all sorts of expansion packs to make it work for more players or to add more components and various ways to play. If you’re “board game people”, I’d suggest giving it a try!
Shop like there’s no Internet (at least once)
I really do love the convenience of online shopping, gift cards, and being able to buy just the right thing for someone from a link they send. It makes Christmas shopping so much easier and people get what they really want, but I have to admit that it also takes something away. The other day, I was remembering the time when we’d plan a day at the mall and we’d browse stores, looking for gifts for everyone on our list. We’d then wrap them, pack them in boxes, and take them to the post office to ship out. Remember those days when we didn’t have something sent directly to the person from Amazon?!
Well, yesterday, I went to the mall and I browsed around looking for a few more gifts to check everyone off our list. Yes, it took more time, but I found so much more joy and satisfaction in it.
So, I would encourage doing that with at least one gift.
What things have you enjoyed in Christmases past?