About the Author

Stephanie Bryant is the co-founder of @incourage and a podcaster at the #JesusLedAdventurePodcast. She owns a Marketing & Business Coaching company. She is passionate about guiding you to your promised land and personal brand therapy. She enjoys spending her days with her husband and their miracle daughter, Gabrielle, on #BryantFamilyFarm....

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  1. Stephanie,
    I have learned that “as goes mom….so goes the household.” My mood and temperament as we approach Christmas has a trickle down effect in my home. Granted, it’s a little easier these days when I don’t have to secretly wrap gifts from Santa while the kids are napping or at school. And, I don’t have to worry if I’ve wrapped Mom and Dad’s gifts in the same wrapping paper that Santa uses lol. But still…I find I have to prepare my heart for His coming so that my peace rubs off on those around me.

    I can’t wait, each year, to dig out Ann Voskamp’s “The Greatest Gift – Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas” along with my Jesse tree and ornaments (the best Secret Santa gift I’ve ever received :). This is my time for my own personal reading and reflection…my time to focus on the One who puts Christ in Christmas – Jesus himself. Tracing Jesus’ lineage allows me to put myself in the story – it helps bring Christmas home for me. If you want to do something good for yourself or a friend, get the book and the ornaments and draw near to Him in the silence of your heart. (No this is not a paid advertisement lol). Dec 1 will soon be here…I’d love to have others join me in the journey. Thanks Stephanie…and yes, one Christmas we did the “all on Christmas eve thing”. All I can say is “never again!!!”
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • You’ve inspired me to make a Jesse tree this year, Bev! I have Ann VosKamp’s book, and I’m going to get the ornaments now. I don’t have any children at home anymore, but three of my grandchildren are visiting for Thanksgiving with my daughter and her husband. Thank you, Stephanie, for your encouragement. I love Christmas!

    • I’ve enjoyed the Jesse Tree, too, Beth, and am excited to use Ann’s ornaments and book this year with my daughter, Gabrielle. She is really understanding so much more about Jesus’s story and why He came. It’s such a privilege to have those conversations with her. Our favorite tradition is a birthday party for Jesus Christmas morning. When my daughter wakes up there’s no signs of Santa, but there are balloons, party decorations and cake for breakfast. We sing Jesus Happy Birthday to kick off our festivities.

      • Stephanie, I had to smile while reading your description of Christmas morning at your house! What delightful memories you’re creating for your daughter, memories that will not only fill her heart with love for family but love for her Savior as well.

    • Thank you for confirming what was revealed to my heart That Thanksgiving is the beginning of and open door to the
      being thankful, observing and celebrating of Christ’s birth! It all makes sense now that it all fits and connects together perfectly! We focus on God wondrous gifts and especially the gift of Jesus on December 25th !

  2. Every Christmas my family has a special tradition. From November to December all of is kids (there is 10) work together to earn money for a, special ministry called Gospel for Asia. Some of us older ones get jobs or set up little businesses during this season. And the younger ones earn money from mom and dad doing odd jobs around the house. It’s a group effort for sure! On Christmas day we take out the Gospel for Asia catalog and add up our earnings. Together we choose what gifts we want to purchase for the missionaries and those they ministry to in Asia. Some of the gifts From previous years have been chickens, goats, a camel, fishing nets, sewing machines water filters and so many more…I’m so glad God has given us this special opportunity each year to share the love of Jesus with those who have never heard of his gift to the world. It really has shown us what is the most important part of Christmas, giving.☺

    • Jessica, I love the idea of doing this ON Christmas day as a family. We have done something similar in years past with Samaritan’s Purse’s catalog. Such a wonderful visual for us all and a great opportunity to pray for our brothers and sisters around the world.

  3. My issue with celebrating Christmas before Thanksgiving is that then Thanksgiving gets lost in the shuffle. It becomes a “junior Christmas”, which can result in commercialism. I’m struggling with this right now with my 8-year old son. He has always loved fall and loved Thanksgiving, but this year all he talks about is wanting to get a Christmas tree and start playing Christmas music. I try to keep him out of the stores as much as possible, but on occasion I have to take him with me,and he sees the decorations and hears the music and wonders why we can’t do it at home. I try to explain that first we celebrate Thanksgiving (I have always appreciated that he can actually enjoy a holiday with no presents), then Advent, then Christmas. But it’s hard to compete with secular culture.

    • Claire, I used to feel like you, too. I agree there is a lot of commercial pressure to do everything earlier and earlier every year. But I also think there’s freedom in when and how we celebrate the holidays. Each season looks so different for every family. Your son’s excitement to celebrate his Savior’s birth makes me giddy. I love his joy! Like my daughter said, “Christmas is in my heart.” Maybe you could look at this as an opportunity to extend the spirit of the season and have a longer countdown to Jesus’ birthday?

  4. I’ve been pretty rigid in the past about NOT celebrating before Thanksgiving — mostly in reaction to the universal tendency to skid right from Halloween to Christmas! But this year, I’m finding myself in a softer position toward Christmas and am looking forward to playing some Christmas music while I’m making the Thanksgiving pies. I’m already cranking up Handel’s Messiah just to get the party going.

    • Nothing like good ole Hande’s Messiah to get us all right with the Lord. Can’t be cranky during those choruses, right?! Being thankful for Jesus and all of His blessings = Christmas + Thanksgiving.

  5. We had talked about not even putting up a tree this year, one reason being we are empty nesters! But your thoughts help me get past the “bah humbug” to the Even so Come Lord Jesus!!!

  6. Stephanie,

    I prefer to think about Christmas coming after Thanksgiving. I feel we need to enjoy each holiday. My feelings stem from Christmas not being Christmas, but more of a worldly holiday, It’s all about buy, buy, buy get, get, get. We’ve lost the real meaning for Christmas! I may have some traditions, but mostly I just want to be with family and celebrate the birth of Jesus!!!

    Blessings 🙂

  7. Stephanie,
    Thank-you for sharing your heartfelt thoughts. I love that,’Grace to Savor.’
    I agree, begin to celebrate Jesus’s birth when it’s right in your heart(s). While I’ve always loved Christmas, my Mother poured herself into it with a certain kind of giving spirit. After she was gone I felt I needed to carry on not only my own traditions but her’s as well. But when my dad passed away three years ago on Christmas Day, although it was shattering I was reminded that no matter what, it was, and will always be (Christ)mas.

    Penny

    • Penny, I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m sure losing your Dad on Christmas Day makes the holiday bittersweet. But what an amazing gift he received that day – the best one ever, right? To be celebrating our Savior to seeing Him face to face in a blink. Wow. I pray you’ll be able to have a peaceful and beautiful Christmas this year with fond memories.

      • Stephanie,

        Thank-you so much for your sweet reply. I believe it was for my dad a gift.

        I hope that you have a blessed holiday season.

        Penny

    • Penny,

      So sorry for the loss of your father on Christmas day. I understand the holidays can be a down time for you. May God bring peace to you and your family this Christmas. You are so right–no matter what Christmas will always be about the birth of Christ! I pray this year will be a good time with family and friends!

      (((((Hugs)))))

      • Beth thank-you so much for your kind words. Prayers that you also have a Christmas filled with joy, and peace.

        Blessings to you,

        Penny

  8. For the first time our son is away from home this holiday season and back in September I realized a sense of dread and sadness in my heart…but then the Lord reminded me to be thankful in all things, so I started a personal “Thanksgiving season” early… a sort of thanksgiving advent – during the month of October. I have been focusing on being thankful in my heart and pondering God’s gifts, of which there are many, delighting in the abundance of harvest and beautiful colors and we have a sign that says “grateful, thankful, blessed” … after reading your post, I realized that my elongated Thanksgiving season is helping me prepare for Christmas… my heart is ready to jump in – right after Thanksgiving day!

  9. I won’t officially start Christmas until after Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is my favorite and I feel it get lost in the holiday hustle and bustle. But advent is in my heart, I’m anxiously awaiting our advent studies arriving in the mail, hopefully this week. I can’t wait to take a peak. Also this year per my daughter’s request I am going to make an advent wreath for our Kitchen Table

  10. I love the Bishop’s Wife. They just don’t make movies like that any more. As I recall it was Dudley who decorated so expertly, she had a maid and a cook. What ever we do or whatever we have, He’gets the glory. Even from an old movie. I would also recommend Beyond Tomorrow, it’s kind of obscure, but so was It’s a Wonderful Life at one point.

  11. Thank you for sharing Stephanie!

    I simply LOVE the Christmas season! For me it’s a season of giving and reflecting on the greatest Gift. I too finally decided not to let anyone dictate when I’m to celebrate. My mother went home to be with the Lord on New Years Eve in 2011. She too loved Christmas. Instead of doing like some and dreading that time of year since we lost her then, I’ve decided to celebrate it even more! My celebration starts in early October with Christmas carols. I still honor Thanksgiving but usually start putting out small Christmas items as it nears. There’s just something about Christmas! There’s something in the air! People are more kind and loving. I like to think it’s God’s love.

  12. I love your daughter’s quote “I love the Christmas lights because I have Christmas in my heart”. My husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary earlier this year, one of the things we reflected on was how much we both love Christmas. Yes, we love the decorations and the music but it’s about more than that. It’s about Jesus birth on that night. We go to Christmas Eve service as a family, our grown daughter still comes home to help decorate the house, we (my husband and I plus our daughter and her husband) go look at lights together.

    Both mine and my husband’s fathers are deceased, it’s made both of our Moms stop decorating or caring to celebrate the holidays. So we have stepped in to make new traditions and keep the family together. Because your daughter is right, Christmas IS in your heart.

    Thank you for the reminder Stephanie.

  13. Played Christmas music and plan to put up the small tree next week! Then start setting out the nativities! yes plural…many of them. Love planning and hope to be able to enjoy the true meaning for a whole month!

  14. Oh my goodness! If I weren’t replying to this group then I’m sure someone would be saying I’ve lost my mind. I have literally been praying about whether to decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving this year. I know that probably sounds ridiculous. Who asks God when they should decorate? He has far more important things to listen to… well, I did. And I feel His answer in this post. Our house is going on the market Friday and I was afraid if I didn’t decorate before Thanksgiving I wouldn’t get to. However, like many others have posted its always been a major no in my book as I never wanted anything to overshadow Thanksgiving which is my favorite holiday. But I see more clearly that actually the 2 holidays are very much tied together. Thanksgiving is really about Christians who came to a new land bc they wanted to practice, study and worship God’s word as it was in the Bible not in the legalistic way it had become in much of Europe. And they wouldn’t have had the New Testament without Jesus ‘ birth. So as my daughter stated today, we should absolutely decorate for Christmas now and keep our fall pumpkins out too! Because we wouldn’t have Thanksgiving if we didn’t have Jesus!

  15. Stephanie, I just love what you wrote,”I’ve stopped doing what was expected and focused on the meaningful”. So well said, and so true for me at the place I am at in life. I think this principle applies to everything in life. In one of the posts a lady mentioned that she prayed and asked the Lord when to start celebrating Him. How cool is that. The thought came to me, how about everyday. Of course the tree and lights and Christmas music all symbolize Christmas time, however why not start celebrating when my heart feels moved to do so. I have been playing religious Christmas music for the past 3 weeks, I ordered Max Lucado’s new Advent study ( my teenage son and I are going to do it together, and are both so excited), and to go with the Ann Voskamp Christmas devotions, I ordered a wonderful Children’s devotion so my little ones can also have a wonderful visual and fabulous daily advent story (It’s called the Jesus story book Bible). I just love having something heart enveloping, to look forward to during the build up to the Jesus birth. I love having all of my children and hubby as deeply excited and involved in the build up to Christ’s birth. And the idea of having many nativities set up in the house, what a fabulous idea. I am so thankful for all the wonderful ideas shared here. Thanks for writing this wonderful post, blessings to you all ladies.

    • Oops I made a boo boo….the lady prayed asking the Lord when to start decorating, not celebrating Him. I read what my heart needed to hear. Just wanted to clear that up.