When my husband suggested we place a second Christmas tree in the front room, I knew I must have misunderstood him. This is a man who loves Christmas decorated with more simplicity and less clutter.
Before he could change his mind, we had that tree up and decorated. Yet something was missing: the gifts.
So began a new tradition. A Jesus tree. Each time we served someone, gave to someone in need, or loved on someone, it became a gift under the tree. A sort of birthday gift to Jesus – to celebrate the ultimate Gift, salvation through Christ. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about?
Little notes scribbled on index cards might read, “Gave my allowance to buy a soccer ball for World Vision,” or “Chose to forgive my brother when he stole my toast,” or “prayed for X” or “sent a letter to Y.” These notes would be placed in envelopes addressed to Jesus. Little boxes were wrapped and tied up with ribbons, addressed to Jesus, filled with all the ways we were going through Christmas with eyes wide open for Him.
Rather than stumbling into opportunities to serve Christ, I saw my children seeking those moments. They were intentionally creating ways to show the love of Christ.
Intentionally moving through the season seemed to slow time. When time moves slower, we linger a bit longer. The memories, they penetrate a bit deeper – they have time to soak into the parts of our soul that are longing for more of Christ.
The visual image of the number of gifts under our “Jesus” tree compared to the number of gifts under our family tree was a powerful reminder to us where our hearts were. Each time we walked by the Jesus tree and saw only a few gifts, we were encouraged to seek opportunities to serve Jesus, to shine His light for the world to see.
To see my children excited to serve others so they could wrap a gift for Jesus is a moment in time I will treasure forever. To hear them discussing how they could do something and wrap a gift for Jesus rather than focusing on creating their own personal wish list was a priceless snapshot in time.
Christmas holds a unique opportunity for creating memories with the ones we love. Moments in time are etched into the deepest corners of our souls. Those moments shape us.
For some of us, the Christmas season can feel like a blizzard, blowing in hard and fast, burying us under mounds of parties, activities, shopping, and all kinds of chaos. We find ourselves wondering how we can slow the storm of time so we can focus on what really matters: Christ.
This Christmas allow yourself to enjoy the gift of each moment you are given. Savor it, slow to watch it unfold before you as you are fully present in the moments. When time feels slower, we are able to see the true gift of Christmas.
Sometimes the simplest acts, the smallest traditions, make the biggest difference. To others. To us.