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Just for You > Everyday Godly Play Blog > Presence over Presents

Presence over Presents

Real talk through personal stories around family and faith. This month we reflect on the busyness of the Advent season and what it means to be present with our loved ones.

As the holiday season approaches, I find myself getting anxious because I know that it’s going to be so busy. I remind myself to slow down...and be present in the moment. But with all the coming hustle and bustle, I also get anxious because my family does not always have the means to provide all of the things often expected this time of year. That can be a lonely space. I try to remember that it’s not about having all of the things, and lucky for me, since we stream our shows, my kids don’t get to see a lot of ads!

Instead of focusing on things, our family builds traditions to look forward to. I am such a big kid at heart. I love the magic of Christmas and all that comes with it. I love still believing. I love the sense of wonder. I love the weather change and the coziness of being at home. When my husband and I had our first kid, we decided that instead of traveling from place to place for the holidays, we would stay home and build traditions within our own family. Now our boys look forward to those traditions every year, and to be honest, so do I. Sometimes I think I look forward to them more than they do. 

We are a homeschool family, so with that we get the privilege of taking the whole month of December off. My partner and I still have to go to work, but not having to worry about the extra of schooling is nice and our kids look forward to the break. I look forward to this break–a pause that kindly gifts us extended time for our traditions.

It's a chance to anxiously await the possibility of snow and watch for the first flakes to fall (our family loves snow). We don’t always see a white Christmas, but it’s fun wishing on that star that maybe this will be the year we get one. We go to our zoo's wildlights holiday event. We enjoy seeing the new things they put on display. We hurry to find the reindeer and see if we can spot a red nose. Spoiler alert–we never do, but it’s always fun to try.  

Every December 21st, my kids wake up to a Winter solstice labyrinth that I set up the night before using leftover trimmings I collected from the live Christmas tree kiosks. They wake up super excited to see which way the labyrinth is going to bend around our house. Then they get to walk it. We light a candle once we get into the middle, and then we sit in silence, soaking up the light and the crisp smell of pine. The kids each get a turn, and then I take my turn also. Moms get to sit in silence too. 

Each year, we have a Christmas advent calendar that is a puzzle. The kids take turns picking a piece each day. I used to have to work with them, but as they have grown up, it’s been nice to step back and have fun watching them work together. I enjoy seeing them try to figure out what the final picture is going to be. One day I’ll put the puzzles into frames (who am I kidding I ain’t got time for that), but the boys love pulling the previous year out and comparing them.  

We are a family that loves to be comfortable. We love to be at home together, so we look forward to our Christmas movies. Now I know there is a big debate about whether or not Die Hard is or isn’t a Christmas movie. For us our Christmas movie will always be Home Alone and Home Alone 2. It’s so much fun watching those movies. My kids, and even I as an adult, get great joy watching Kevin and his shenanigans. They always ponder if it’s possible or not for them to set up those same antics, and if they couldn’t, what would be the different ways that they would do it.

Sometimes after the movie, I’ll build an obstacle course inside the house (which they thoroughly enjoy), but mainly, it's simply sitting on our oversize couch with all of the blankets and treats, turning off the lights, and laughing that makes these moments magical. I hold close to my heart these special sights and sounds–my kids giggling, my husband's smile and laughter, our dog trying to sneak a treat while we are engrossed with the movie. 

Then comes Christmas Eve. I have to work on Christmas Eve every year. It’s a long stressful day for me, and I look forward to coming home, getting into our Christmas Eve pajamas, and gathering around my partner as he reads ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas. Now my partner is a Dungeons and Dragon player, so as he is reading the story, it’s not just your standard telling. He takes us to a magical place with his voiceover‘s acting, bringing to life elf shenanigans and deer rescues...

And then we all go to sleep. The house is quiet and peaceful, and that I think is where I find the true meaning of Christmas. That’s the moment I wait for every year. The hush that settles before the next day. That sense of safety, that feeling of love, that moment of being present with my family and sharing in the space that we call home. 

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