Un-Decorate for Christmas

It’s October, and I’m ready to start listening to Christmas music. Has this conversation come up in your home too?

In my house, the timing of Christmas music is a basic disagreement that my husband and I face every year. I love Christmas and can’t wait for the season to begin. Meanwhile, my husband, Tim, thinks it’s an abomination to begin observing Christmas until after Thanksgiving. As you can see, we are polar opposites in our Christmas readiness.

I understand his point. Among other things, Tim doesn’t want to us to miss the importance of Thanksgiving. (He also might have a lower tolerance for Bing Crosby than I do. I’ll check on that.) For me, though, Thanksgiving and Christmas merge into a seamless holiday season. Giving thanks and worshiping Jesus go hand in hand.

So we compromised. Through November, I listen to Christmas music when I’m all by myself, and then beginning the day after Thanksgiving, we listen to it non-stop.

Why I Love Christmas

Really, if I’m honest, my desire to get started early with the Christmas season comes from feeling like I never get enough Christmas. I cherish the togetherness of our family, and there’s something special about a season where we stop and think about what’s really important.

Unfortunately, at Christmas, those lofty ideals aren’t often realized. We want to be together with our family and focus on worshiping Jesus, but in trying to capture those moments, we unwittingly become busier than ever. We pile on holiday parties, and we pile on gift after gift that we think will make us happy. (Spoiler: Gifts don’t bring happiness. Why do we ever believe that they will?)

What if there was a way to make Christmas more meaningful than ever before, without buying more gifts or adding to the frenetic pace of the season?

McMahan family at Christmas

In wanting to be closer to our family at Christmas, we may unwittingly we become busier than ever.


Our Christmas Traditions

A few years ago, as Tim and I thought about the memories we’d like to foster in our children as they grow, we decided to radically reorient our Christmas season. We were inspired by the Advent Conspiracy. Tim built a manger for our living room, which we still use every year alongside our tree. (Here are step-by-step instructions on how to build a manger.) We decided that our kids would receive three presents each. (More on that later, too.)

The result? Our family has been beautifully shaped by the decisions we made.

homemade manger

Tim built a manger for our living room, which we still use every year.

Along the way, we realized that there’s no better way to celebrate the birth of Jesus than to focus on those closest to His heart: the poor, the weak and the vulnerable.

Hope Tree

This year, Food for the Hungry is introducing a new way to celebrate Christmas. It’s called the Hope Tree, and it epitomizes the approach to Christmas that I think we are all longing for.

Here’s how it works.

  1. Your church sets up a Christmas tree in the sanctuary or in the foyer of your church building.
  2. Food for the Hungry will send you (free of charge) decorative ribbons, a tree topper, and the most lovely ornaments you’ll ever see—photos of children waiting for sponsorship.
  3. Throughout the Christmas season, your church family is invited to sponsor children from the tree.
  4. Everyone rejoices as the tree becomes un-decorated, because it means that children have found loving sponsors!
Hope Tree

Contact our Church Engagement staff to order your Hope Tree kit!

Thinking about doing a Hope Tree with your church? Our Church Engagement team can get you all set up. Just fill out our contact form and we’ll call you to take your order.

Come un-decorate the Christmas tree with us!