936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting
Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!
My husband slowed the car as we passed by the old wooden gate. “I don’t know, Babe.” We gazed out over the lot, a sparse expanse of tree trunks punctuated by the occasional lopsided evergreen. “Are there any other lots?” I asked him. “Not really.” He began to turn the car around.
But then there were their excited voices, chiming in from the back seat.
“We looking for a parking spot, Daddy?” Ellis, Our two-year-old could hardly contain his enthusiasm.
“I’m going to find the prettiest Christmas tree for you, Mom, to make you so, so happy!” Our four-year-old, Zeke, beamed.
My husband turned the car again, but this time towards the parking lot.
Despite the great shortage of trees, the farm was buzzing with families cheerfully milling about in search of a tree to call their own. Our boys knew no disappointment, and set straight to work in finding us the very prettiest Christmas tree. They ran about, zig-zagging through the remaining evergreens, and leaping off of deserted tree stumps. Occasionally they would stop to further inspect a tree
“Do you like this one?” I asked them as we stood before a slightly crooked, fairly naked blue spruce. “Yes!” Zeke exclaimed. But then his little brother voted otherwise. “No, this one needs to stay outside, Mama.” We moved on.
Eventually, with some imagination and grace, we all agreed upon a fairly well-shaped tree. Surely it had been passed over a hundred times at the sight of its tangle of dead branches down low. “We can cut it down from up here, above the dead ones.” My husband motioned towards the middle of the tree. I squinted. Yes, this could work. The boys watched as the tree fell to the ground. Perfect. Or close enough.
Off we went with our little pine tree, taking it away from that sparse tree farm, and driving it towards our sparse home.
We are in the midst of selling our house and moving to Colorado. And so this Christmas finds us in a bit of a limbo, and with a very empty home. And the thing is, it has been a very surprising kind of wonderful.
Because it seems as though Christmas has a knack for collecting clutter. With more sales, more shopping, more things, more treats, more noise, more events, more activities, more expectations, and more wants, the important things can get a bit hazy. All of this more tends to distract us from what we are really wanting more of.
Like memories. And peace. And joy. And still. And Jesus.
All of this Christmas clutter tends to rob us of everything that, in twenty years from now, we will want to look back on and see. Busy and noisy and greedy have a way of erasing all of those things that we really want to etch into our memory and hold on to.
And I’m not against the festivities and lights and baking. I’m just proposing, from beside my imperfect Christmas tree in my nearly empty house, that perhaps less could be more this Christmas.
Maybe we could find the Christmas magic we are wishing for by looking back on a lowly manger. And perhaps the wonder of Christmas is not wrapped up in glistening paper and elaborate bows, but rather in a swaddling blanket.
And maybe the shimmering glow of Christmas is not found in strings of lights or candle-lit windows, but rather in the gleam in the eye of a newborn babe, perfect, staring into a starry, silent night so many years ago.
Perhaps a dirty feeding trough and a bed of straw were the perfect Christmas decorations. And maybe the story of a set of frightened and overwhelmed first-time parents, staring down at their baby boy, the promised Savior of the world, is all the hope we need this season.
Maybe that lowly little manger scene embodies all the magic we’ve been searching for.
Please don’t get me wrong. I’ve strung a line garland, taken the boys to see the lights at the train station, and we’ll be decorating our tree come tomorrow morning. The ornaments and the carols and the baking– these can all be a part of this celebration. They all have their place in our job, as parents, to be memory makers.
But only if the memories that we are crafting point our little ones back to that manger. Only if those memories remind us that the very first Christmas was a humble one. A silent one. A dim one. A slow one. A lowly one. A holy one.
And so this season all I am wishing for is a lesser Christmas. Less clutter, and more time. Time to sit, and time to think upon a brand new mama years ago, holding her wrinkly newborn babe–her Savior. My Savior. And time to share with my boys the story of a little boy, born long ago, who came with a mission to bring them the greatest gift.
Yes. I think that’s all we’ll be needing this Christmas.
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!