Meaningful Christmas

Every year, I understand the true meaning of Christmas, yet I still have a hard time focusing on what really matters during the holiday season.  It's easy to get immersed in gift giving, baking and holiday get-togethers and forget that those are things we DO to celebrate but they aren't WHAT we celebrate.

I learned of a Jesse Tree last year and am eager to start this tradition when Judah is a few years older.  Every family can do it differently, but traditionally, it's where you have a small tree set-up in your home and everyday from December 1st- 25th you hang an ornament depicting a Biblical story that shows how God prepared the world for Christ's birth and you read a verse along with it.  It helps you focus on The Lord as a family each day throughout the Christmas season.

For example, December 1st, you would talk about The Creation Story and hang an ornament of something like an Earth or Dove. You can find the devotionals online that tell you what verses to focus on. The ornaments can be made or you can purchase your own to resemble the verse you're trying to convey.  I pretty much love this idea because it combines crafts, Christmas, and quality time and I'm such a lover of all those things:) I think it's a great way for children to have a visual representation of what we're celebrating. I suppose we could start this tradition this year but thought it would make more sense when Judah was 2 or 3.

Besides this idea, I have been pondering other ways to bring meaning into the Christmas season.  I want to incorporate some new holiday traditions that can carry us through the entire month.  They don't have to be intense or timely, it could be similar to the ideas Hannah and Maggie had for remembering what they're thankful for during November.  But I'm sorta at a loss.

Some ideas I came up with:
Celebrating advent with candles or a calendar
Picking up a Christmas devotional at the store and reading it as a family
Watching The Nativity together (I haven't seen this, is it good?)
Serving the less-fortunate in the Des Moines area as a family

So I wanted to ask: what do you do to bring meaning into the holidays?  How do you focus on Christ's birth and not get swept away with the materialism all around us?  

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