Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Sarah Sundin | Spread the Christmas Joy

A Simple Christmas

I come from a small family—my first and only cousin was born my freshman year of college. We lived in California, and our grandparents lived in Ohio and Connecticut, so it was just the four of us every year.

Christmas was never spectacular for us, but it was quietly magical. Through simple traditions, my parents made the celebration meaningful and delightful.

We always attended the church’s Christmas pageant. We always put out the crèche and played carols. We always set up the same decorations, carefully placing the tinsel on the tree one strand at a time.

Since my sister and I are only fifteen months apart, we often received the same or similar gifts. So we’d sort the gifts by type, and Martha and I would open the twin gifts back to back, simultaneously, trying to open at the same rate. And no spoilers were allowed!

We also had odd, unique family traditions. We always went to the shopping center on Christmas Eve to buy family gifts—yes, we’re procrastinators. And my dad always, ALWAYS found a parking spot right in front of the Broadway department store. Sadly, this parking-spot-opening gene was not passed on to the next generation.

Today, Christmas is often a blur of frenzied, over-the-top decorating and baking and gift-buying and gift-wrapping and crafts. We add on more and more every year and Christmas becomes a time of chaos, stress, guilt, and debt.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Christmas is about the wonder of God Himself coming to earth as a tiny baby, God among us. 

As the angels told the shepherds in Luke chapter 2: “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord…. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

The last few years, I’ve been returning to the simple traditions, the ones that bring peace and joy to my family and friends. And I’ve been stripping away the activities that only bring guilt and stress. In the process, I’ve rediscovered the wonder of the season.

What can you do to simplify your Christmas?

Sarah Sundin is the author of seven historical novels, including Through Waters Deep (Revell, August 2015). Her novella in Where Treetops Glisten was a 2015 Carol Award finalist. A mother of three, Sarah lives in California, works on-call as a hospital pharmacist, and teaches Sunday school.

Through Deep Waters
In 1941, as America teeters on the brink of World War II, Mary Stirling works at the Boston Navy Yard and renews an old friendship with naval officer Ensign Jim Avery. Jim’s destroyer escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic, but problems on his ship point to a saboteur at the shipyard. As Mary works to find the culprit and Jim battles U-boats, could their friendship blossom into something more? Or could the dangers they face keep them apart?

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