Recently, when my husband posted pictures of our family decorating our tree last week, his post received a lot of feedback…some positive and some, well, let’s just say Ebenezer Scrooge would have been proud of some of the comments. I decided to do an informal poll of my Facebook followers (you too can become a Facebook fan here) to determine how others felt about putting up the tree before Thanksgiving and found similar results. Responses ranged from “Do what makes you happy” to “Noooooooo.” So, in order to enlighted everyone…and convince you all that I am right (as usual) I decided to share why our family decorates our tree so early. Warning: I’m pretty convincing, so you may want to read this when you have a couple of free hours, because you may just want to jump up and start decking the halls! So, without further ado, the reasons we decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving…
To Get My Children In The Mood For Giving
Every year, my church participates in Operation Christmas Child, a ministry of Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse. This is an amazing ministry that reaches children all over the world, yet it is simple enough that even my smallest child can participate and feel she is making a difference. In a nutshell, Operation Christmas Child is a way to share God’s love by packing shoeboxes with small gifts for children in 130 different countries around the world. You can choose to pack a box for a boy or a girl, and with a $7 donation you can follow what country your box travels to. Interested in packing a box this year? There is still time, but you need to hurry. Because they need to ship all over the world before Christmas, collection ends November 25th. Head over to Operation Christmas Child to find out what to pack in a box, or to find the nearest drop-off location (there are 10 within a 50 mile radius of my home!) Don’t have time to go out and fill a box manually? No problem. You can Build Your Shoebox Online! No excuses, right?
So, you may want to argue that the Christmas season doesn’t start until December 1st, or maybe Black Friday. But at our house, we strive to celebrate Christmas in a way that honors the real reason for the holiday, the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus. God sent his greatest gift, and it is our joy to share that gift with others. So, in this house, the Christmas season begins when we start packing our shoeboxes.
To Have a More Relaxing December
Last year, my family began celebrating the 25 days of Advent in a special way. Instead of candy in our Advent calendar pockets, I placed tiny envelopes with the day’s mission written inside. Some days are an act of kindness. Other days are a family activity, like baking cookies or going to see Christmas lights. (I’ll be sharing more about our Advent activities next week.) The entire season was planned out before the month began, so it went pretty smoothly, but it did make for a rather busy Christmas season. However, with activities like decorating already out of the way, we were able to spend more time on things that I always wanted to do, but usually couldn’t because we couldn’t fit them in. Imagine waking up December 1st with your home completely decorated, your month of family celebrations all planned (including all items on hand for each activity) and your family ready to celebrate the true Reason for the Season. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? Trust me, it is the nicest way to spend the holidays.
To Set the Mood for the Season, that is The Reason for the Season
Beginning mid-October, retail stores start displaying Christmas items. With so much competition, it can be difficult to keep children focused on the real reason we celebrate this holiday, the birth of our Savior. Since the stores are already competing to sell my family the commercialized version of the holiday, I think it is imperative that my husband and I keep the focus on Christ early on. So, it is important to decorate the tree (um, trees…we have a few), set out the nativity scenes and just enjoy being together as a family mid-November before the rush of the season hits full steam. Let’s face it, Thanksgiving is like an entrance ramp to the autobahn of Christmas…a full speed race that doesn’t slow down until about January 2nd. Let’s slow it down by stretching it out a bit.
Because Christmas is for Children, and Kids Want the Tree up Early
Have you seen how cute my kids are? The minute Halloween is over, my children begin asking when we will put up our tree. Who could resist those adorable little faces? Plus, seeing their eyes light up every night when the tree is turned on is enough to make me want to put the tree up in August, so I think I am showing quite a bit of self control waiting as long as I do. I mean, really…have you seen how cute these kids are?
Well, there you have it…the reasons we decorate our tree before Thanksgiving. Whether you have been motivated to pull out those ornament boxes or just shake your head at my reasoning, I hope reading this did one thing for you…I hope it made you take a look at the next several weeks and take a deep breath. Christmas time can be one big blur of busyness if you aren’t prepared. But, with a little planning and a few special moments decorating with your kids – whether today or December 1st – I believe this can be the best, most Christ-centered Christmas your family has ever had.