Have Yourself a Very Simple Christmas

How to clear out the clutter and create a meaningful holiday

One of our all-time best Christmases was the year we were broke. Really broke. We had just joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ, making the shift from "a real job" (as our parents liked to say) to raising adequate support for our missionary endeavor. We had two small boys and no money.

We economized at every turn. A friend loaned us her artificial Christmas tree. Grandparents came for the holidays loaded down with yummy food and other goodies. A neighbor called and told us they'd just gotten a great deal on steak and bought too much for their freezer.

Another friend gave our boys toy car panels?complete with horns, steering wheels and other enticing controls. These panels soon became the boys' favorite toys, fueling our sons' imaginations and transforming from cars to space ships to trains to whatever else our boys wanted them to be.

We decorated our whole house with chains of colored construction paper glued together with homemade paste. Our home was festive. Joy abounded. And we weren't exhausted by all the running around we would have done had our financial situation been different.

We had no choice but to focus on other aspects of Christmas, like the fact that it's Jesus' birthday. Despite our simple, low-budget celebrations, that holiday season was extravagant and rich. We realized the importance of building meaningful holiday traditions and rituals and focusing on the gift of joy we have in Christ.

Where to start

To make your holidays more meaningful this year, start with traditions that make your family unique. Take a few minutes together as a family and evaluate your traditions. What are your favorites? Which are most meaningful? What traditions do you continue that are only a ritual and no longer have any real meaning? If you're a young family just establishing holiday traditions, you can ask the same questions of the rituals your own families practiced.

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May 25

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