I was surprised by the wide variety of reactions that bubbled within me when I read Kendra Tierney’s post about how she’s not giving her kids toys for Christmas.
In about three seconds, I went from “THAT’S NUTS!” to “It sort of makes sense but I would never do that” to “Maybe I should do that” to “I TOTALLY NEED TO DO THAT!”
After I thought about it a bit more, I decided that the specifics of the idea might not be the right fit for us (at least not for this year), but I continued to be inspired by the idea behind it. What I love about what Kendra is doing is that she’s questioning key cultural assumptions about what it means to celebrate this season — even some of our most deeply-entrenched assumptions, like the idea that there should be toys under the Christmas tree.
Emboldened by her example, I’ve started to look at every single thing we typically do during Advent and Christmas, and I ask myself two questions:
- Do we really have to do this?
- Does doing this reflect the values that are most important to us as a family?
I talked to Kendra on my radio show about this this week, and one of the interesting things that came from the discussion was the realization that you can’t choose activities that reflect your family’s values if you haven’t taken the time to clarify what your family’s values are in the first place.
I love the idea of having an “intentional” Christmas, by which I mean a celebration of the season the reflects the priorities that we claim to hold dear. Every year, I have a vague yearning for this concept — but I end up getting caught up in the chaos and feeling like I’m just drifting along, swept away by forces outside of my control.
After my conversation with Kendra, I’ve come to see that the secret to having an intentional Christmas is to take the time to discuss what really matters to your family. Then, once that’s clarified, take each new potential demand on your time, hold it up to that statement of values, and boldly ask:
“Do we really have to do this?”
I’m delighted that my discussion with Kendra is the latest episode on my podcast, which you can listen to below. I hope it provides you with some inspiration for your Advent and Christmas seasons!
(If you’re reading this on email you’ll need to click through to see the player.)
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