When #1 Son and Baby Girl were little, I had all these dreams of offering them a holiday season filled with glorious memories and multiple experiences to fully engage their little minds. A few years and several back copies of Southern Living later, I was in sensory overload, as was my family. Then I was hit upside the head with a sermon that changed everything.

This young pastor shared that “If Jesus came back as the entire world is anticipating the arrival of the Christ child during the Advent season, what would He find? Would He find over eating, over drinking, over stimulation, and a world overwhelmed with accumulation?” It knocked me so hard, I dropped all my packages.

That year I decided to declutter the holidays by inviting each member of the family to share the 3 things that made Christmas Christmas. I further decided to only do those things for that season. I was completly surprised by the response. It seemed even the house gave a sigh of relief.

My man’s list:
1. A fire in the fireplace
2. Open gifts on Christmas Eve
3. Church on Christmas Eve

Baby Girl’s list:
1. Fire in the fireplace
2. Open Gifts on Christmas Eve
3. Church on Christmas Eve

#1 Son’s list:
1. Open gifts on Christmas Eve
2. Only 1 Christmas tree in the house and it should have all our handmade ornaments on it (Up to this time, I was trying to keep up with the fabulous ladies in the Junior Service League Christmas Tour of Homes and had a theme-decorated tree in every room that made the house so bright at night we were getting fly-bys from Hartsfield International Airport)
3. He wanted to be IN the Christmas Eve service at Church

My list:
1. Family Christmas Letter written to all our friends and family coast to coast (This endeavor had made for sibling banter between me and my hilarious brothers. We love getting Christmas cards, but I know your name. Please tell me what’s going on your life.)
3. Bobbi Jean’s Lemon Cake only once a year and HAS to be on Christmas Eve (Bobbi Jean was the woman my Daddy married when I was 10 years old. She was an amazingly generous woman. She taught me everything I know about the blessings of family traditions and the power of random, kind words, and face time with those you love.)

Just in case their list of 3 changed, I would ask the question “What 3 things makes Christmas Christmas for you this year?” each Thanksgiving. It freed up a ton of time, energy, and resources.

Now that Baby Girl is married to #2 Son, a fire in the fireplace still tops her list of must-haves.  However, they live in a little house where there is no fireplace.   A fireplace DVD will be their first gift from us for their first Christmas in their new home.

What 3 things makes Christmas Christmas for you?