As we set up our Christmas tree yesterday, I was talking to the kids a bit about Advent and the season of waiting it is. And I was thinking of ways to really help it not be about presents. Not that I think it's bad to love the presents... who doesn't love presents??! But last year Jacob had a really hard time waiting until Christmas day. He kept talking about how tempting it was and innocently admitting how he just couldn't wait to see what was in all of those wrapped packages under our tree! After all, he had to look at them and wonder for two or three weeks!! I actually felt bad for him. He was just. so. excited! and the waiting was torturous.
So as we looked at our beautiful tree lighting up the living room last night I was ready to go start wrapping all the gifts I have in my closet. Presents are almost a part of the decor of a tree, and I love seeing them all ready to give, because I know the excitement they'll incite! But then I looked under the tree and saw the nativity set as Mattie had set it up... every character crowded around to see Jesus. A small picture of what we're really waiting for. To be a part of the crowd all tightly gathered to worship the Messiah. Our Messiah!! My Immanuel.
And I realized that I knew the perfect way to help it be less about presents.
Leave the space under tree empty until Christmas morning. Leave the nativity scene right there to represent the Gift we've all been freely given. And all of those "things" we talk about not focusing on? Avoid putting the concrete gifts right in front of the kids all the while trying to refocus them on the abstract Gift that they can't really grasp because of their humanness. And I don't mean "avoid" in some legalistic way, but in a way that provides relief to the kids. A way that leaves their field of vision undistracted and available to focus on the Christ I'll be presenting this Advent season as we read, wait, and serve. Then we'll pull out the gifts the day we celebrate!
Aaaah... I love it when God provides clarity and things like this just make sense all of a sudden.