If you’re like me, life whizzes by at lightening speed, especially this time of year…I mean, there are only 12 more days until Christmas and I am still digesting my Thanksgiving meal!
It is for this reason that a few years ago I decided to slow things down for our family. We began the tradition of a weekend in the mountains to stay in a simple but quaint cabin, without technology, and a ultimate focus on Jesus being the reason for the season. My intention was to help all of us take a deep breath before hitting the pavement of sales, flashing lights, songs about Rudolph, and wish lists that grow each week. If we went away, into the quiet of nature and family, maybe we could instill in our children’s hearts a perspective other than “me, me, me!” We could talk about the gifts and talents Jesus gave them, and how we can use them to give back to Him in this life. Stories from the bible, and crafts that reminded my children of Christ, warm meals together and maybe a Christmas movie snuck in somewhere became the agenda.
A couple of years into this tradition, we invited close family friends that we had known for twenty years. It quickly became a standing tradition of theirs too. This year, we all headed up to Snow Mountain Ranch again, hoping for a little breather before the race to the 25th began.
This is the view! Peaceful!
We did get out and go on a hike. Notice the mailbox name:
On Saturday night, after filling our stomachs at a taco bar, we invited the kids to gather around for a time of teaching. I read from The Advent Book, a wonderful story of Jesus’s birth presented in a book with doors for kids to open and beautiful illustrations. I got this book years ago at a MOPS convention, but you can still find them on Amazon here.
We asked the kids to share what the birth of Jesus meant in their lives…it was very sweet to hear their responses. A lit candle stood on a table, and we shared about how we can be a light to others since we have Jesus in our hearts, and asked the kids to reflect on this each time they saw a candle flicker this season.
After we felt we had sufficiently rewired their hearts to the true Christmas spirit (he he), the kids got to do an ornament exchange–and I don’t think we had any tears this year!
Our final event of the weekend is always a Christmas tree hunt. We bundle up and treck through the forest, in search of the very best Charlie Brown tree. It is a tradition our family loves. After all the families have hauled their trees out of the woods, we serve hot chocolate to the kiddos and wine and cheese to the adults.
It’s a wrap! We headed home with a competition. Whoever had their tree up and lit first that night would get $50 off next year’s lodging (we won).
More importantly, we came home with hearts in the right place, as the wave of materialism and presents seemed a bit smaller than before we left. I have named this “Intentional Christmasing,” and if I’m not on top of it, it won’t happen. Being intentional does not easily go with the flow of life, whether it’s making a date night happen, calling your out of town family to say hello, or setting a little time aside to focus on Jesus. But, it is worth it.