'Christmas' tagged posts

Advent: Looking into the Unseen

It was a sunny day, the kind that is perfect unless you are running around in heels, setting up for an event.

Which is exactly what I was doing, regretting the heels and starting to sweat–just a little bit. That evening, I was trying to make sure my three kids weren’t bothering the actors who were also trying to get ready for their performance. It was an event like any other event; if I’ve done one, I’ve done a million. But this time, as I watched my kids fold programs and chat with the actors, I knew this was different and I was especially grateful for the experience. The actors, who were eating pizza and getting their mics fitted, were members of the homeless community, here to share their experience of what it means to be unseen and unknown in Tacoma.

Long lay the world, in sin and error pining

Our family has tried to serve people who are in the midst of poverty and homelessness for quite a while now. We’ll donate turkeys, even assemble a meal. We have served at Tacoma Rescue Mission, bought socks for clothing drives. We often will purchase a water bottle for someone outside of Target, say a prayer for people as we drive by in our car, and carry extra gloves and blankets to hand out if we see a need.

 

But to be honest, anyone can do those simple actions. My heart was not affected – these actions cost me little. But about a year ago, I committed to do something simple, but much more costly. I committed to stop what I was doing, look into the eyes of the person, and acknowledge their presence. It made a world of difference and it brought me to the performance on that hot sunny day.

Creating Meaning, Embracing Joy: 6 Christmas Ideas from our Family to Yours

They took every single Christmas gift, that night our home was burglarized just before Christmas in 2012. Our house was ransacked… but the memory that stands out to all of us most vividly is all of those Christmas presents… gone.

The following year, 2013, the news came just before Thanksgiving: my husband Brian’s workplace would close its doors in December.

In 2012, when word went around about the burglary, packages, gift cards, and cash gifts began to pour in from friends, neighbors, even strangers. Our own Christmas was so provided for that we had to pass significant gifts on to others with much greater needs than ours. Our kids, though, were deeply impacted by the experience of being on such a bountiful receiving end. “Mom,” declared one of my sons, “I think we’re rich in friends.

In 2013, with discretionary money low, we tightened our belts and exchanged “gifts of service” to each other. We raided the account we have set aside for “giving to others”, and we secretly bought each other gifts like soccer balls for kids in Africa, physical therapy for kids in Eastern Europe, school fees for girls in Asia, tailored as personally to others’ hearts and interests as possible. That Christmas when we exchanged our gifts, our kids declared it their favorite Christmas ever.

2014 was a normal year. The number of gifts under the tree looked normal again. But in my journal that year I recorded this:

“By the grace of God something most not-normal has happened through those last two Christmases — our kids have learned to take extravagant delight in all of the details of Christmas that are NOT about receiving. They have learned gratitude for small things, and the pleasure of seeing others’ enjoyment. And they’ve also learned to receive a gift as it is intended when given… as an expression of the love of the giver — Once again, hard things and disappointments have brought forth fruit that looks like compassion and joy. Lounging on the floor with them, watching this play out… this may just have been MY favorite Christmas.

Christmas for us is not December 25, but a month-long flurry of lights and music that begins officially the day after Thanksgiving and doesn’t end until the sad day when the now-turned-fire-hazard tree finally comes down in January. The Zinns LOVE Christmas. Year after year though, as the planning and the activity begin to kick into gear, Brian and I talk and pray and wrestle with the questions — “HOW do we engage all of this fun… AND help our children to be freed from that icy grip of materialism? HOW do we cut through the exhilarating exhaustion and teach ourselves of the God who speaks in stillness? And HOW do we never, never lose our wonder that Almighty God would take on flesh and draw us near?”

Overlooked Stories and the Wonder of Christmas

Once upon a time, I used to write Christmas plays. I write plays for Sports Camp, which is easier by comparison. Demonstrating the big ideas of Sports Camp is simpler than explaining the wonder of Christmas. Despite that, I am proud of those Christmas plays. One of my favorite vignettes from those plays was the […]

When Does Christmas Come?

Each year there is that moment when the Christmas season becomes real to me. It may be when I see that the Christmas decorations have been hung on the street lights, or I happen across a children’s choir singing in the mall, or when I hear a special Christmas carol.

I have always loved Christmas – this celebration of Emmanuel, God with us. However, the past few years have been different. It seems as if the cares of life have dimmed the brightness of the lights and the joy.

This year, especially I was not ready for this season. It has been a difficult year.

Celebrating the Incarnation in a Broken World

Christmas is coming!  My family and I are excited! It is time to celebrate! Christmas is the celebration of God coming to earth in the flesh, as a gift to humanity.  It is a celebration of the incarnation of God as man in the person of Jesus.  This is a very good reason to celebrate. […]

From A Christmas Story to The Christmas Story

“You’ve never seen A Christmas Story?  You have to see it!”

Every year, sometime post recovery from tryptophan overdose (aka too-much-turkey) and pre pine-needle-fire-hazard-prevention clean-up (aka taking down the tree), I hear this phrase.  You’d think after 37 years I’d have done something to remedy my Christmas film deficiency.  Oddly, however, while most people have fond memories of this movie, and nearly everyone thinks my life is lacking without the ability to understand significant pop culture references related to its characters and scenes, no one really gets all that excited about the idea of watching it with me.  It’s more an experience to have had, not one to keep having, it seems.

Despite managing to get through over 3 decades since its release without watching this movie, I haven’t completely escaped knowledge of its contents.  Images from the movie are prominently displayed every year at this time.  There’s the leg-shaped lamp stand, the pink bunny suit, the tongue on the frozen telephone pole. If you’ve seen the movie, you know what these are, and you know why they’re funny, or meant to be. I, however, am missing the context.  Without the full story, I don’t know what any of these things actually mean.  Sure, I get the basic humor behind the tongue stuck to the pole.  But why is the boy in a bunny suit at Christmas time?  And what’s the significance of a plastic leg in fishnet stockings attached to a light bulb and fringed shade?