cultivating a good life this christmas
Merry Christmas, friends!
As individuals, families, and even collectively as a team, we’ve tried to be more focused and more intentional about carrying the true spirit of Christmas in our hearts this year. We thought it would be special to share a snippet from each of us about how we’ve tried to make this Christmas extra meaningful. If you’d like to chime in, we’d also love to hear from you in the comments as well … because we’re always inspired by what you share! How have you made this holiday season special?
I have felt personally and profoundly impacted by a movement called #LIGHTtheWORLD this Christmas season. The idea is this: Each day in December we have been reminded about the Savior’s attributes or things He did during His earthly ministry . . . and along with those reminders, we’ve been prompted by small ideas on how we can emulate Him and serve others. The advent calendar + short videos on that website have been awesome! This effort to think more about other people and less about ourselves has kept our hearts and minds more focused in a way that brings TRUE joy . . . not the superficial, fleeting, often selfish type of fun . . . but real happiness.
The cherry on top was carving out a Saturday morning to go serve a group of often overlooked and underserved people in our community. We all mass-produced breakfast burritos and sandwiches with our respective families ahead of time, then arrived to a methadone clinic before the sun even came up. We — along with our children — served warm breakfast, hot cocoa, bananas, water bottles, and warm greetings to total strangers who are trying to get off drugs. Then we stopped by a homeless alley in downtown Phoenix and distributed more food and water there. It was really special for us to come together as a team, and as families, in sharing LIGHT with others who are struggling.
For me it’s about family and focusing on Jesus Christ — they way He lived His life and trying to be more like Him, coming together and loving one another regardless of our differences. I always feel so nostalgic for the days when my grandparents were here, and because they were still here, we gathered around them. I love all the warm feels that come with nurturing those old traditions, while creating ones with our grandchildren. Did I mention that I’m a grandma? It’s the BEST thing ever.
I am so grateful for the reminders I have each Christmas season of the goodness in the world. This season we have tried so hard to give to others. For the first time I can remember, all four of my kids have been touched by this spirit of giving. As we have served others, I have seen the light of Christ in my children’s eyes as well as those we have been able to serve. The more we have given of ourselves, the more ideas my kids have come up with for ways to serve those we know and those we do not know. I am thankful for the constant reminders of how blessed I am and to see the joy in each of my children’s eyes this time of year.
I’m so grateful for this month. Grateful for the open reminders in the media, in stores, and in almost all my conversations this time of the year — all reminding me of Christ and His light that shines through everyone I meet in some unique and beautiful way. Christmas is so much more than the commercialism, and though I have little kids who love the excitement of surprises and Santa, it will never outweigh the truth that a power much greater than any on earth gives love and hope to me, and everyone, year round.
Overcoming our selfish natures is, to me, the quintessential struggle of the holiday season. The battle rages in every heart torn between the desire to “get,” and the joy of giving. While commercialism will still have its day on December 25th, and my home is far from the exception, I made a special effort this month to give up something I’ve selfishly been hoarding all year long: my time. I’ve been trying to push my favorite hobbies and time-wasters down my priority list, somewhere below my family and my health. It’s an effort that gets me halfway to fulfilling the spirit of Christmas found in one of my favorite quotes: “It is well to remember that he who gives money gives much, he who gives time gives more, but he who gives of himself gives all.” – Thomas S. Monson.
Something that we do every year is decide who to donate our Christmas Jar to. This is something we started years ago, and it continues to be one of our most meaningful traditions. We usually give it to someone in “need,” but this year, as our family pondered and prayed on our recipient, we were drawn back to one particular family that we are close to. They are not in need monetarily, but due to some health issues, they could just use some love and kindness. Once we decided on this family, we all felt such a great sense of peace and it is helping us to overlook the hustle and bustle of the holiday while we patiently wait for Christmas Eve to arrive so we can drop off our jar. The best part has been watching our teenage kids digging through their individual cars for every last penny to add to our year-long collection. It has been a year in the making and we are very much looking forward to paying this forward.
Years ago I found a list of traditional Christmas symbols (candy cane, star, tree, ornaments, etc.) and what each of them symbolizes as it relates to the true meaning of Christmas — a time to celebrate the birth of the Savior, Jesus Christ. Each year at Christmas we talk about the symbols that so many view as the things that make the Christmas season so festive and fun, and as a family we remind ourselves to focus on the Christ-centered symbolism behind the “everyday” holiday images that we see throughout the season.
(It’s worth mentioning that Laurie welcomed baby no. 4 into their family and she is currently on maternity leave. Now that’s cultivating the most beautiful kind of Christmas right there. We are so happy for her!)