Home > Christianity, Christmas, Faith, Guest Posts > I’m Dreaming Of A Stretched Christmas — Guest Post By Jon Stolpe

I’m Dreaming Of A Stretched Christmas — Guest Post By Jon Stolpe

Jon Stolpe has become a great friend to me and the Deucology blog.  He is a great brother in the faith.  He is a Christ-follower, husband, dad, son, uncle, engineer, runner, chicken farmer, gardener, saxophone player, operations manager, adventurer, and the list goes on.  He also grew from 5’6″ to 6’6″ following his junior year of high school.  He felt a bit stretched during that time of his life, so he views life from a stretched perspective.  He blogs over at Jon Stolpe Stretched and you should visit him there often.  It’s my pleasure to have Jon Stolpe guest post for me today.  Take it away, Jon……

I’m Dreaming Of A Stretched Christmas

When Larry and I were talking about guest posting on his blog, he mentioned the idea of tying Christmas and stretching together.  The more that I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve come to realize that stretching is actually very appropriate to where I need to be with Christmas this year.

In the hustle and bustle of life, the normal approach to Christmas can simply mean a crazy time of gift giving, holiday parties, shopping, Christmas concerts, and more running from here to there.  With two kids in middle school, we have certainly fallen into many of these traps.  It seems like we’re always on the go, and Christmas can just become a time for more busyness.

Honestly, I’m tired of it!

I want Christmas to be a time to re-center my focus on what matters – Christ, family, and people.  So how can I do this?  That’s a great question!  I think it starts by being intentional throughout the holiday season.  Here are some of my ideas:

  1.  Celebrate Advent.  I grew up celebrating advent with my family.  Each week, we sat together at the table.  We lit the advent candles.  We read some scripture that talked about the coming of our Savior.  We also used an Advent Calendar.  I still remember opening each window and reading a verse or two each day that heightened our anticipation of celebrating Christ’s birth.
  2. Keep up with family traditions.  For me, the traditions that come with the Christmas season are part of what prepares me for celebrating the birth of the King.  Our family has a big tradition that comes with setting up the Christmas tree and hanging the ornaments.  Every year, it’s the same.  We sit around the tree together, we listen to our kids explain the reason for their ornaments (we give the kids one ornament each year that represents a key moment or event from the past year).  Baking cookies and making Swedish food is another part of the tradition that knits our family together.
  3. Find a way to give to others.  Whether it’s bringing a plate of cookies over to the neighbors, serving at a local soup kitchen, or giving to the Salvation Army, I believe it’s important to teach our families that Christ came for people.  When we give to others, we help point them to Christ.
  4. Be reasonable in your family gift giving.  Let’s be honest, your kids don’t need every last toy, gadget, and clothing fad that is advertised on TV or is in the front display at every store at the mall.  Set a dollar amount that you are going to spend on your kids, and stick to it.  We have tried to follow another principle in giving gifts to our kids.  We get them four things:  something they WANT, something they NEED, something to WEAR, and something to READ.  Don’t go overboard!  When we go overboard, we take the focus right off of Christ and right onto the gifts.
  5. Learn to say no.  This one is the toughest for our family.  We have to learn that we can’t do everything.  We can’t go to every single holiday party.  We can’t buy every single game or gadget that calls out to us as we walk through the stores.  Set a budget on your time and money.  This is so critical if you are going to feel refreshed and refocused at the end of the Christmas season.

And so, this is where I start with my Christmas stretching experience.  I don’t have it all together.  And I need to make sure my focus is in the right spot.  It’s so easy for me to go through this season on cruise control.  I don’t want to do that.  I want this season to stretch me, to grow me, and to spur me on towards Christ.  And I want the same for you!

How are you feeling stretched this Christmas season?  What else would you add to the list above?

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  1. December 14, 2011 at 5:16 am | #1

    Want and need is so true!!

    I always find as well that I will be really cautious, creating cheap presents and homemade gifts or even buying through the year – then it gets to Dec and I see MORE stuff and start buying that as well!

    Come January I am broke- and half the ‘stuff’ isn’t remembered. It’s worth buying a big turkey – or a big day out? We’ve booked this walk this Christmas http://www.goactivities.co.uk/products/1677/festive-adventure-day – it’s a big day where you go out and eat in the forest and just hang as a family?

    It takes your mind off PRESENTS too! Great post Jon! xx

    • jonstolpe
      December 14, 2011 at 5:28 am | #2

      Thanks, Elaine!

      This sounds like an interesting way to celebrate Christmas. Don’t forget your map and compass! :)

    • December 14, 2011 at 6:29 am | #3

      Elaine, thanks for stopping by. Come again!!!

  2. Arny Sanchez
    December 14, 2011 at 10:38 am | #4

    I’ve really been thinking alot about Christmas lists…and that fact that sooo many people are sooo into them…

    BUT, i Hate Christmas lists…

    Christmas should be about giving and giving from the heart. I believe we should give what we want to others…and others should “learn” and I say learn because most of us…including myself…have to learn to accept the fact that it might not be a “great” gift you wanted per say….but to realize that it was from someone special who put a lot of heart and time and emotion in getting you something they thought you would enjoy…

    that’s what’s been weighing on my heart…or stretching my heart latley…

    • jonstolpe
      December 14, 2011 at 3:11 pm | #5

      Interesting perspective, Arny. Thanks for sharing.

  3. December 14, 2011 at 11:08 am | #6

    Awesome guest post!

  4. December 14, 2011 at 11:10 am | #9

    Great post as usual Jon. I feel the stretch this time of year as well. Stretching to set boundaries, stretching to see Jesus in the midst of the clutter, stretching to teach my kids. I like your idea of giving your kids a gift they want, they need, to wear, and to read, that’s a great rule of thumb.

    • jonstolpe
      December 14, 2011 at 3:13 pm | #10

      Thanks, Beck. I’d be interested to hear if you use the “want, need, wear, read” idea for your gifts this year…and how your kids respond to it.

    • December 15, 2011 at 5:43 am | #11

      Thanks for visiting, Beck

  5. Mark
    December 14, 2011 at 2:48 pm | #12

    We also do the Want, Need, Wear & Read gifts. I find that giving gifts to others is ALWAYS more important than giving out my own Christmas list. I mean, what do I ‘need’ anyway? I’ve got it all when I look at it in perspective. Adopting a family for Christmas is always fulfilling, and if someone gives to those in real need in lieu of giving to me, that’s a great gift!

    BTW Duece, I see you may be a UT fan. The real UT, I hope, Go Vols!

  6. December 16, 2011 at 7:22 am | #15

    I appreciate your point on learning to say no. It’s easy to say ‘yes’ all the time, but your ‘yes’ to one thing is a ‘no’ to something else.

  1. December 14, 2011 at 5:18 am | #1
  2. December 17, 2011 at 6:29 am | #2
  3. December 17, 2011 at 9:17 am | #3
  4. December 31, 2011 at 7:40 am | #4
  5. May 3, 2012 at 1:27 am | #5
  6. October 16, 2012 at 5:01 am | #6

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