I've had the most inspiring conversations with my brother, Stephen, this whole month of December. They have been about what Christmas means in our society. Somehow much of Christmas' meaning gets lost with all the fluff. Fluff that isn't necessarily bad, just distracting.
How is it that the Passover for the Jews is untainted with commercialism, fat jolly men, and reindeer? How is it that Christmas means very little of Jesus and very much of packages, goodies, sleigh rides, and stockings? Sadly Jesus can be difficult to see in Easter, as well.
And yet, there are those people that try very hard to find meaning in these days of celebration. There are those that seek the Christ child and carefully make him the focal point while Santa and his reindeer are being shouted from the rooftops, in every plush, musical, and illustrated way. (At this point it probably sounds like I dislike Santa. I just don't like how Santa usually overshadows the whole reason for Christmas in every shape and form.)
My brother is incredibly inspiring to me. He helps me see things like Christmas, in its purist, unadulterated form. And for our family, we've tried doing many things differently this December that are still fun, merry, and thrilling, but for all different reasons.
One of the ideas came when talking to Stephen. He said, "We leave cookies and milk for Santa, but what do we leave for the Savior, what do we do to welcome Him?"
And so we're starting a tradition of replacing our cookies and milk Christmas Eve with the Gifts to the Savior box. The box usually sits under our tree until Christmas Eve when we write down what our gift will be to Him--something we want to change, try to do, or be in the coming year--and put the notes in the box. This Christmas Eve, we'll leave the box out (where the cookies would have been) and open, as an offering to the Christ child that would be born the following day, on Christmas day.
I have to say, it definitely feels different in our home this Christmas. We've had some of the most memorable and meaningful conversations, times singing Christmas carols around our tree, and bundled up for the cold moments reaching out to those around us. No gift under the tree could take the place of what we're trying to become as a family because of this special season.