Make Your Family's Christmas More Meaningful This Year

"I see your smiling face Like I've never seen before Even though I love you madly It seems I love you more The little card you give me Will touch my heart for sure
All these things and more, darling Oh, that's what Christmas means to me my love That's what Christmas means to me my love.."
-Stevie Wonder

I love the childhood memories I have of Christmas. Growing up, our household became a winter wonderland—practically a festival of trees! Neighbors could always count on seeing the little ranch house with blue candles in every window, the blue and white icicle lights hanging from the roof, and the blue and white blinking lights on the front door wreath reflecting off of the silver wrapping paper that covered it. Literally every room had its own Christmas tree as its focal point, each with a different theme and color scheme. Can you imagine a tiny person's love and excitement for this time of year??

As I grew taller, the decorations grew smaller and smaller, and so did our time together. I realized that after the holiday season left us, once the lights came down, and the joyful music went back to the secular tunes we heard before November, so did our outward joy. A lot of our joy was tied to Christmas "stuff" like decorations, holiday music, capturing the perfect pictures, or buying each other the perfect gift.

Even though we learned early on that it was the season of giving and of love, and we were happy to give to those in need every year, we didn’t realize that this same joy and giving we were doing was supposed to occur among ourselves all year long. We relied on the spirit of Christmas to make us feel good and expected it to last past the New Year. But what were we doing as a family in the off-season?

Now, as an adult with my own family, I find myself wondering what Christmas really means to me each year and wondering how I can make it special for them. I'm always trying to start new traditions or add to the ones already in place to make this Christmas more enjoyable than the last, and somehow it still leaves me feeling like Christmas just doesn't feel the way it did growing up as a kid. What's missing?

Maybe I'm too focused on the past, being constantly reminded of what used to work, a loved one lost, that one time I put my hope into something that didn't come to pass, or that one Christmas where everything that could go wrong, did. But that's not the way God intended anything to be.

The older I get, the more I realize what's really important to me. I've been asked what I want for Christmas this year, and my honest reply is "time with my family." I want to spend my free time loving on the ones that matter most and making sure they feel loved. I value the relationships I've built over the years, and I value the beauty of the present moment because no one is promised another second on this earth.

As you prepare to enjoy your families this holiday season, keep in mind the real reason is to spread hope and love to all those we come in contact with. Keep the love going following the New Year, set new family traditions, and simply live and enjoy each day as if it were your last!

Originally, I had come up with a list of some of my favorite Christmas traditions to share with you but as I proofed the list, my spirit led me in a different direction. I want to make sure I teach my own son how to celebrate with the real reason in mind, to slow down to fully take in God's precious gift of life with contentment, and to remember to love on the very people God has placed in our life while they are here.

So, how do you make your family's Christmas more meaningful this year?

1. SLOW DOWN. Get quiet. Be still. Let everything you do and everyone you surround yourself with bring you contentment, love, joy, peace, and relaxation. No more forged relationships and wasted energy trying to do it all with everyone. We could all stand to say "No" more often!

2. Enjoy quality time with your family. Enjoy the company of the ones God blessed your path with. Decide what each of you loves to do, and give the gift of sharing that passion with them. Does your child love to bake? Help them bake cookies or a cake for another loved one. Does your spouse enjoy cooking? Come up with a special menu or new recipes to try and have a cook off right in your own kitchen. Cooked too much? Invite friends and family members over to enjoy your new dishes!