Cold knocks at the windows, but we don’t let it in tonight. It is warm and cozy inside, because Christmas has come to our house. The tree winks in the corner, a lucky little pine tree that isn’t out in the frigid night. We chose this tree from a Christmas tree farm, cut it ourselves, and brought it home, giddy all the way. Stockings hang on the mantle, empty but hopeful. Handmade paper garland and Christmas projects from the kids are scattered about the house. Popcorn and cranberries are strung on the tree, a white dove on the top as is our tradition, and of course the ugly cotton boll angel and the Christmas pickle hang from it’s bows somewhere in there. Gingerbread houses, handmade gifts, candycanes, and wrapping paper rolls turned into swords. Christmas has come, indeed.

The whole house is warm and lovely, and feels “right”.

But there’s something else, something different this year, that has helped us have a richer, fuller holiday season than ever before. For this past month, we’ve been doing Advent lessons each night (missing a few here and there). We have worked our way through the Old Testament prophesies, the waiting, the hoping, the need… and now we’re into the New Testament fullfillment, the coming of Christ, the great joy of His birth. We sing a song after the Scripture reading, O Come, O Come Emannuel, or Joy to the World, or O Little Town of Bethlehem. We have an advent wreath/ nativity scene, and each Sunday we light one of the tapered candles in it, concluding on Christmas Eve, with the final story of Christ’s birth. The difference it has made in the kids is just amazing to me. They really “get it” this year- why we celebrate Christmas, where the joy of this season comes from. They have learned the songs, joined in the discussion about Christ’s birth, and they always look forward to what the new candle might be. (Hope, Joy, and Love so far.) It’s helped us to focus on, dare I say it— the Reason for the Season? Catchphrase extraordinaire, the best ones are always the truest.

Anyway, I just wanted to share how we’ve been preparing for this great day, and how full my heart is of Christmas this year. As my children learn and understand more about what these days mean to us as Christians, I am also drawn back to that humble manger scene. I am drawn back to the greatest moment in history, the moment of God’s greatest glory. Helping my children to focus on Him has helped me, too.

This year, the lights seem brighter. The songs are sweeter. The cocoa smoother, the tree prettier. Because everything about Christmas is more, when everything about Christmas is Him. I’m thanking God for refreshing my sight of Him, and I hope that you’re tasting the joy of the season, too.