Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The other Christmas Book...

Of course THE Christmas Book that is the guide for the whole celebration is the Bible. You really don't need any other book to make Christmas happen. Meditating on God's Word and letting it dwell richly in your heart is the key to the most successful of all Christmas celebrations. And if you'll carry that habit with you into the new year, you'll find yourself not only celebrating Christ's birth, but you'll catch yourself celebrating the joy of knowing Jesus each and every day.

AFTER the Bible, the book that I find most helpful for the holiday season is The Christmas Book. You see, our church's women's ministry hosts a wonderful event early in November each year. It features breakfast, a devotional talk, wonderful music, and workshops designed to help women prepare their hearts and homes for the holiday season that goes from Thanksgiving through Christmas.

At that event one year, I had the blessing of attending a seminar by an amazing woman of God name Debby. She is an interior designer and hostess extraordinaire. Although I learned enough to keep me busy for years to come, the one take-away that I went home and implemented immediately was The Christmas Book. Think of it as Holiday Headquarters.

Here is my Christmas Book. It is a two-inch, three-ring binder. The cover is courtesy of my youngest child.

Inside, The Christmas Book has dividers separating the different sections. The pages in each section are secured in page protectors to keep them safe and clean.

Here are two pages from the Advent section. Under Advent, we keep printouts of the Advent verses we use from year to year.

And here is a print out of Jesse tree symbols used as a kids' craft.

The recipe section holds ALL the recipes for the entire season, from Thanksgiving favorites to our Christmas Eve chili dinner to our Christmas Day Big Family Meal. Christmas cookie recipes, quick and easy meals for the hectic December schedule and actual menu plans are included in the recipe section too. As Debby pointed out in the workshop, if you go ahead and plan your meals from Thanksgiving through Christmas ahead of time, you can take advantage of the sales and shop very economically. Choosing your cookie recipes well in advance allows you to plan for teacher and neighbor presents as well as entertaining.

One of my favorite sections is the gifts section. I keep our master Christmas list in here each year... the list of who got what and our gift-giving budget. I write down teacher gifts and neighbor gifts and the years that we make those gifts, I snap a picture to remember what we did. But my favorite part of the gift section is the kids' Christmas lists that they wrote themselves. Such treasures!

All those Christmas workshops yield a wealth of ideas, so I have a section devoted to notes from that women's ministry event, as well as articles I find in magazines or online that deal with organizing and planning and strategies to keep Christ in the center of Christmas.

We have a section for Christmas cards and letters, where we have placed a copy of each letter we've sent out and each card. We keep printouts of names and addresses of people to whom we send cards. This year, we started a new tradition and put the Christmas letter on our family blog. I'll print it out and put it in the book too.

An entertaining section holds copies of party invitations and plans for gatherings we've hosted and attended. Plus some ideas we'd love to try in the future.

The final official section is for decorating and crafts. It holds pictures and directions that we've found in magazines as well as photos we've taken while out and about during the holiday season. It is our headquarters for future creative plans and our handbook for "how we did that" so we can do it again in years to come.

The Christmas Book allows me to be purposeful during the holidays. When I plan well, I have time to spend in fellowship with my sweet Savior and time to enjoy my family and friends.

I even have secret plans for the plan book. Since The Christmas Book is as much a history book as an organizational tool, I have all our family traditions from devotions to recipes to parties in one place. When my daughter marries, I'll give her a Christmas Book of her very own, complete with copies of the devotionals and recipes we've used over the years. She and her husband will make their own traditions, but she will carry to her new home a legacy from her family. While I'm at it, I think I'll make a couple more for my daughters-in-law too.