Sunday, November 28, 2010

Advent And When We Stopped Celebrating Christmas

Art work by Hannah Varghese  of Malaysia (here) - Title -God Is With Us
Today begins the Advent season here in the Hassoldt home.  
I’m going to share a little secret with’s a little shocking, but we did something three years ago that we have never regretted since...
we stopped celebrating Christmas.  Yep, tree... no commercial craziness...nothing; 
except a little candle and a Bible Story. 
Why did we do it?  We weren’t completely sure ourselves...we just felt absolutely sick and tired with the “over-much” of it all that we saw around us, sadly, especially among the Church of God.  The expectations, expenses and decorations were killing us.  The “perfect” holiday was sucking the life right out of us.  
In a sense, we tore down the whole “Christmas thing”, even the “good” Christian ones.  Have you ever considered how many “idols” are put up during the Christmas season?  Many things, even good ones, can become an idol that replaces our love, worship and devotion for the only True God.  At the time, I didn’t realize how many traditions, expectations, and good ideas were competing with the Real Meaning for the season.
Please know right now, this is just what WE FELT WE were suppose to do and that in no way do we judge how any one else celebrates their holidays.  It’s just what we needed to do to escape from the craziness that has become a part of this season and get out of the “holiday fog” that had engulfed us.  I felt sick to see on the news today that not only do we have “black Friday”-the Friday after Thanksgiving, but now we have “cyber Monday”.  Really!!! This is ridiculous!  
I began to look in the Bible, pray and ask the LORD what we are to do to honor this precious Biblical event and historical moment in our Christian faith.  After these three years Steve and I feel ready to “re-build” our Christmas.  The Nativity story begins in Luke with these precious words from Gabriel to Mary “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” (Luke 1:28).  That is the 1st thing that I want to teach my children...that the LORD is with us!  Yesterday, today, tomorrow, this Truth is always!  Next, I want them to know that the Babe that was born is Holy-the Son of God (Luke 1:35).  This Truth will be the anchor of their faith for the rest of their lives. The angel tells Mary something else very important to remember as we anticipate the coming of our LORD...”For nothing will be impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37).  
Another thing that I want to show my children (and remind myself of ) from the Nativity story; Mary’s response to the Good News is what I want to say to my LORD each day - “Behold, I am the servant of the LORD....” (Luke 1:38).  Next in the story is a very important word - “believed” which is found in Luke 1:45 spoken by Mary’s cousin Elizabeth “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the LORD.”  Has the Lord spoken something to us that we need to believe as we wait to see His fulfillment? 
The Nativity story continues with Mary’s song of Praise in Luke 1:46-55.  Ohhh, there is so much in the Nativity story sweet family and friends.  So much that we might be missing as we scurry about with trees and lights.  Let’s stop and linger and praise Him.  
Other things that I want my family to see and celebrate from the Nativity story is praising the LORD like the angels did in Luke 2:13 and giving Him glory as in verse 14; to wonder at the things told by the shepherds as others did in Luke 2:18 and to treasure and ponder what we have seen as Mary did in verse 19.  Also I want our family to return to our work at the end of this season glorifying and praising God for all that we have heard and seen as the shepherds did in Luke 2:20.  
As a family, we will begin our time of remembering the Nativity with Advent - lighting a candle, reading the Bible Readings for each day of the Advent season and singing a song.  We do not give gifts to the children for Christmas...they get gifts for their birthdays.  We do not want to take away from the real GIFT of Christmas.  No competition for My LORD!!!  We want to remember, celebrate, honor, and give praises to Him and Him alone.  At some point during the next 4 weeks we will have a special “Nativity Celebration” with some fun finger foods for the children, nativity stories and we make sugar cookies (cuz, the children love to make sugar cookies!!!! Who doesn’t!).  I want to make this time special and fun for the children.  However, my main purpose during this season is to teach my children and remind us all that the real Nativity story shows us how to respond, surrender, rest, believe, praise, ponder, treasure and glorify the One Who came to BE WITH US. 
Blessed Advent to you and your family!


  1. We celebrate Advent as well preparing our hearts for our Savior's incarnation. I too so want to remove all the commercial side of Christmas. I am slowly weaning our family each year. This year they are each getting 3 gifts representing the wise men. One they need, one they want and one just because. Next year maybe we will get done to one and then none!!!

    You inspire me!!!

  2. Thanks for sharing. I'm a little sickened by Christmas already this year. First time really. I haven't decided what to do with this yet. I look around and it so, well it's so not what God wants of us. I get especially sickened by the Chrisitans with the Jesus is the Reason for the Season stickers. Really? If so, we'd be doing it different. And where did he tell us to celebrate a birthday for him anyway. Conflicted.

  3. GOODNESS if you didn't live so far I would be running over to hug you!

    AMEN! AMEN! AMEN! Nothing here either but the gift of love! His love for us!

    Pretty amazing what happens when the world is truly shut outside our doors and we open it completely to HIS WORD and GIFTS!

    Love and blessings!
    PS We do a Bethlehem dinner that is amazing - you can find it on my blog - our family LOVES it!

  4. Shonni! Thank you for this post! This has been totally on my heart over the last month or so!! Not sure if I would get away with canceling Christmas but we are down-sizing!!!! ALOT!!! And re-focusing! Thank you for encouraging us to make this change! Love ya Sista!

  5. So glad to read your post and the following comments. Growing up, my family never had any Christmas celebration at all. Mostly because, historically, it didn't originate with Christ's birth. The Romans were decorating trees and bringing in evergreen branches during that time before Christ was even born. They did it to commemorate the winter solstice. (Side note: Many scholars believe Christ was born either in the spring or the fall, since it happened at the time of Roman taxation and the weather for traveling is best during those seasons.) Over time the pagan customs and Christian beliefs joined and then merged with capitalism and kazaam! We've got the Christmas of today!!!

    bringingmercyhome is right when he/she says that there is no Biblical command to take a day to celebrate Christ's birth, although I don't believe it's wrong to do that. If you wish to read something that will make you think a little, read Jeremiah 10:2-4.

    When we first started taking in children, Christmas was a big deal to them. I didn't want to take it entirely away from them, but I definitely wanted to leave the commercial side out as much as possible. We started looking at Hannukah (the Jewish commemoration of a miracle that Jesus did celebrate while He was here, similar to our Thanksgiving) and getting ideas from it.

    What evolved was something that we all feel comfortable and happy with. We take the last eight days of the year and focus on time with our family, remembering God's miracles (the greatest of which was the gift of His Son), and reaching out to those in need. We do give a few gifts (practical and fun) and we don't decorate.

    I love your ideas, Shonni. I love your willingness to share with others what your family is doing. I think you're helping to take the pressure of the holidays off of so many breaking budgets. Thank you!

    P.S. Sorry this got soooo long!

  6. So, can you rec. a special book that you use for your Advent devotions each day? Or do you choose your own scriptures from the Bible? Thanks!

  7. Shonni;

    Thank you for sharing your family's are a wise woman.

    mama to 8
    one homemade and 7 adopted

  8. Thank you!! Every year we continue to "refine" our Christmas traditions, removing more worldly traditions and including more God-centered ones. I used to get frustrated, wishing to "fix" it all at once....but have realized now that it's OK to make this change a process for our family. Which is why it's so encouraging to read thoughts from others making similiar journeys. God bless, Jennifer

  9. Shonni,
    Thanks for sharing your heart. While I enjoy decorating for the holidays I dread all the other stuff that comes along with it. The crowds at the stores the pressure of buying gifts etc. Every year around this time I get sick and sure enough the day after Thanksgiving it started, just the thought of everything that needs to be done affects me physically. I'm grateful that we are also down-sizing this year!!

  10. I so love your heart! We have felt this way for years as well. So tired of the commercialization of Christmas and all who are so quick to fall in line with it all. Including ourselves at times! The past couple of years I've tried to get our extended family to give gifts of donations to a favorite charity instead of gift gifts to each other. (Hope that makes sense). But every year it is a battle to get them to see it--and so. sigh. We are back to giving gifts that none of us need at all. :( You have inspired me and I'm going to see what we can do differently this year with our own little family! Thank you and blessings!


  11. I'm glad we're not the only aliens on the planet===that's how some people look at me when our little kids tell them there is no such thing as Santa Claus! We were convicted a few years ago to get rid of all SC stuff. We asked our teens if we should do SC for our adopted 2yo. Suprisingly--the teens said "no"! We decorate very little, do the Jesse Tree devotions, and have only a few gifts for immediate family onle.
    You are a blessing to me!

  12. borrowed from a facebook pastor friend....Some people complain about hypocrites in church. Strange that so many in our society hate Jesus Christ, but still celebrate His birth...and so many retailers that do not want Him, still count on Christmas to get their businesses out of the "red" and into the "black" (thus "Black Friday"). To me that's the height of hypocrisy!!!

  13. Thanks for sharing the blessings that Christmas can bring. Every year I feel such a burden about the ridiculousness of the Christmas season, the money, the waste, the expectations.

    Surely the Lord is in this place. Great ideas above and helpful comments.

  14. Thank you Shonni for this post. Our family stopped celebrating Christmas about 3 years ago and we have had so much more peace during the season. Really the only thing that tries to steal our peace are our Christian family members. Strange how bent out of shape people get about not celebrating it...


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