Thursday, November 18, 2010

Holiday Celebrations

From the moment my girls hear the word "Christmas", they start getting excited about the coming holidays--Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I think they love just about everything about these holidays--family, friends, yummy food, presents, being thankful, and most of all celebrating Jesus' birth.

A new book about celebrating the holidays has just been published by Moody titled Putting God Back in the Holidays, by Bill and Penny Thrasher.  I really looked forward to reading this book and getting some ideas for ways to talk to our kids about the holidays through the year and some fun ideas for celebrating.

The easiest way to express what I think about this book is to say that there are some thoughts and ideas in this book that I really like and others that either I'm not comfortable with or wouldn't be realistic for my family based on the personalities of me and my husband.  Reading this book reminded me that every family I know has different family traditions.  

Many of our family traditions come from things that our families did when we were growing up.  Every Thanksgiving, I make spiced peaches.  Every Christmas Eve, we had friends over for homemade noodles and sauce.  My husband's family made pizzelles and gingerbread cookies every Christmas Season.  But, there are other holidays that we don't celebrate as much.  I do celebrate them with our children as part of homeschooling, but they aren't family holidays. 

Sometimes I think reading a book like this can make a mom feel guilty or struggle that her family doesn't or can't celebrate holidays the way the Thrashers talk about.  I can be prone to envying families that get to do things that I wished for when I was a young girl.  But, I tell my children that when you envy others you miss out on what you have.  I think the same is true for me.  I may not get to do some of the things with my family that I dreamed of as a young adult, but I do get to homeschool them and spend time with them.  They are very different things and not connected at all, but I hope you get the idea.

What are some possible reasons why we might not be able to celebrate this way?  1) A marriage is between 2 people.  Both people have a say in how the family runs with the husband having the ultimate authority and responsibility to be the leader of the family. 2) Physical or financial limitations and availability of resources.  I believe these are both legitimate reasons.

So, if you are like me, how can we respond?  I think we can find our own ways that do work within the framework and finances of our families to celebrate these holidays.

The bulk of this book is devoted to spiritual birthdays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  My favorite section is actually none of these, but actually the section for other holidays.  I enjoyed the discussions of Valentine's Day, MLK, Jr. Day, Presiden'ts Day, Arbor Day, and other American holidays.  I know that I am going to reread the pages on these holidays as we go through this next year.  I may not "do" anything per se other than talk and discuss with my children what the days are about, but those discussions matter.  I look forward to talking with my children about submitting to authority on President's Day and praying for the leaders of our country.  I am very thankful for the biblical passages that the Thrashers included in their discussions.

There is a short section devoted to birthdays, but a larger section is devoted to "spiritual birthdays" and having a blessing party.  This is one of those topics that I wasn't sure what to think about as I read it.  I've talked to several people about it.  I don't think the idea of "name it and claim it" is biblical.  God does listen to our hearts and he does give us the desires of our hearts--when those desires are in line with His will for our lives.  But, simply praying and asking or "claiming" a blessing is no guarantee that we will receive what we ask for.  I have encountered discussions like this before and I am uneasy about it.  It doesn't sit well with my soul.  My pastor's wife shared with me that she believes God can give us wisdom about what to pray for for our children.  I do agree with her.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and I began to realize that this book will be loved by many people.  If your family enjoys celebrating holidays together and your husband would really enjoy the ideas in this book, I think you'll probably love it.  I have one friend that I can see just loving this book (and I'm sure you know who you are!)  I'm so thankful that this friend is able to celebrate holidays this way and I am certain her children are blessed by their family traditions.  I hope my children are encouraged by our family traditions even though they are different and less in number.

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Moody Publishing.

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