I have long been a fan of tradition and celebrating the seasons.
As much as I adore autumn, I love the changing of fall to winter – pulling out decorations to deck the halls on the outside, while realigning my heart to prepare Him room on the inside.
I’m fairly new to the practice of Advent; I love both the heritage of how it’s been done through the ages as well as the grace to make it work in modern times in a culture bent on busy.
My Honey and I, we are empty nesters now and we’re finding the need to let go of some older customs as well as look for new ways to make memories that last and that count.
For the last few years, we started a new Christmas Eve tradition. We didn’t intend for it to happen, but once we did it, we knew we would never want to stop.
In the “olden days”, when our girlie was young, Christmas Eve meant a house filled with family. Gifts unwrapped, hors d’oeuvres and desserts galore, and games played loudly into the night. New pajamas and a late-night holiday movie would lull us to sleep after the guests left for home and the laughter died down.
But slowly, family moved away and girlie got a job. Soon our little nest was no longer filled.
Instead of mourning the loss of what used to be, we decided to embrace what is now by starting something new.
We began going to a Christmas Eve service at the church around the corner. My mother goes with us and our daughter, too, when she can. I can’t tell you what an unexpected gift it is to hear my Mama’s voice singing Christmas carols by candlelight by my side.
After the service, we drive around town, sipping hot chocolate or coffee and looking at all the twinkling festive displays of lights strung across lawns and over rooftops.
And then, the BEST part of the evening: We pray and head out to a restaurant for coffee and dessert.
The purpose of our dining adventure is less about visions of sugarplums dancing and more about gifts given.
We ask God where we should go and pray that He places us in the right section with His intended waiter or waitress.
We go with the intention of blessing our server on Christmas Eve.
We order something simple and pool the money we’ve been saving up. We pray over our offering and take turns deciding who gets to hand over the tip to a tired, usually less-than-happy-to-be-working-on-Christmas-Eve worker. And we watch the spirit of Christmas light up their face. The look of shock and disbelief is priceless.
The joy it brings us to be a blessing is over the top.
We have friends who do this at Walmart or the grocery store. They go with the intention of looking for single moms or overworked dads and they offer to pay the bill. Sometimes they go to the laundry mat or to the dollar store and they leave bills or coins all over the place. An anonymous blessing for the last minute shoppers or those doing chores on the night before Christmas.
Last year, our whole church caught the vision and many went out together for Christmas morning breakfast and gave an offering to their waitress. She was speechless and in tears, because who does that?
Here’s the thing: we can all do a little and a little adds up and can make all the difference – in someone’s holiday, yes – but also in their life!
Who will forget the kindness of strangers who met a need they did not know or who gave a gift so unexpected and extravagant?
How can we look beyond our kids’ Christmas wish lists and the traditions we usually observe to see where Jesus, the shining Star, may guide us this year?
Tried and true traditions are part of why we love the holidays, but let’s stay open to new traditions that God may be asking us to embrace! Let’s stay open and prepare Him room.Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I love this…what a wonderful new tradition. Also, how in keeping with the true meaning of Advent (expectation and saving) and Christmas (giving). I believe that when we give joyously, like you did, from the heart with the intention to bless someone else, you/we get a tiny glimpse of the joy, love, and blessing God had for us when He gave us His one and only Son. Unlike us, His giving is not a once a year thing….He keeps giving, and giving, and giving to those who deserve and/or expect it least…us sinners. Thank you for sharing your wonderful new tradition and shining a spotlight on God’s great love for us.
Thanks so much, Bev! We can never ever out-give God, right? But it is oh so fun to try! 😉 Advent Blessings right back to you, friend!
What a great idea and beautiful blessing!
What a beautiful idea and so in keeping with the Spirit Of Christmas!! This is something I would like to do with my husband or family. We also are empty nesters and have been for many years, and what a blessing to be able to make someone smile on Christmas Eve!
Thanks so much, D!
Velda, it’s so fun and such a gift to see the wonder on their face! I hope you and your family are able to add this in, one way or another! (Is it too soon to say Merry Christmas?)
Great idea! My girls would love to do this! Thank you!
Oh yes… this is definitely not limited to an Empty Nester tradition… our whole church got involved last year and the kids LOVED it!!!
Love this! Merry Christmas!
Thanks, Karen! Merry Christmas to you, too!
Debbie Patterson says
I loved this! Blessed to be a blessing for His glory and our joy!
Amen! Thanks so much for reading, Debbie! Merry Christmas!
Chuck Marshall says
What a blessing to us and others wonderful to show God’s love.
Thanks, Chuck! What better way to celebrate Christmas, right? To give a little love and wonder! Merry Christmas!
This is such a beautiful way to bless others and show the love of our Father.
It’s beautiful and FUN! Thanks so much for stopping by, Linda!
I love this idea!
Praying for you, Adria! Merry Christmas!
Wow that is such a touching story. I’m so inspired by this tradition. 🙂 It’s really about shining for Jesus!
Yes it is, Jacinta! Yes it is! (Beautiful name, btw!) Merry Christmas!
Diana Morgan says
How Beautiful I’m going to share this with my husband! Thank you for sharing your heart! With a wonderful way to share from our hearts to others! 🙂
Oh I hope you guys decide to play along! You will be oh so blessed! Thanks so much for reading, Diana!
You have truly touched on the spirit of giving in such a thoughtful, and generous way.
I hope that you and your husband have a blessed Christmas,
Penny, Thanks so much! Praying your Christmas is blessed as well!
I was not expecting the story to unfold the way it did…I gasped! I absolutely love your tradition and hope to recreate it with my family. Reading messages like yours put me in the right frame of mind for Christmas… Thank you.
Isn’t God FUN? I love that you gasped… and I so hope that you and your family are able to incorporate this tradition in one way or another! You’ll find that you are more blessed than the one who finds/receives the gift!
Wow. You have encouraged me today. Our lives have changed too! Becoming empty nesters,children moving accross the country and parents moving on to heaven! I love how this blesses others instead of focusing on traditions lost. Thank you.
Libby, Hello there! Merry Christmas, my friend! It’s such a hard transition into Empty Nesterhood –full of All the Feels, right? Praying for you guys as you dive in to a season full of traditions and encouraging you to make some new ones as well!
Jessica Watkins says
Oh I just love this! I am not an empty nester, but a new-ish married. My childhood was steeped in tradition! Now, the holidays are a little different as my husband and I find our own groove – three Christmas seasons later and we are still trying to figure it out! We do many things with my family but it is not the same. This is something I have really struggled with!
I am going to talk with him this weekend about starting a tradition like this..how fun to start blessing someone on Christmas Eve or Christmas day and letting that grow with our family.
Jessica, The newlywed season is a hard transition, too! It’s great… but still has the potential for some bumps and bruises as you navigate what traditions to keep, what ones to let go or change up. Honestly – now that we do this every year, I WISH we would have thought of it earlier! I love that you are considering it! I will pray for creative and fun ways to add this in and be a blessing!
Thank you for this. I am now reminded to LOOK FOR opportunities to be a blessing beyond my immediate family during the holiday season. May your Christmas season continue to creative new traditions.
Yes and Amen! I receive that blessing and prayer! The good news (or at least a tiny portion of it, right?) is that it doesn’t have to be monetary either! Sometimes a simple smile, hug, or word of encouragement to a stranger is a gift that impacts and makes a difference as well! Looking for the opportunities opens you up to find them! Blessings and Merry Christmas, my friend!
Martha Martens says
Wonderful! Blessings to you folks!
Thanks so much, Martha! Blessings right back to you and yours! Merry Christmas!
Michele Morin says
What an amazing tradition, and what I love about it is its outward focus. You’re blessing someone outside your own circle, and that’s just so great!
Isn’t that really what it’s all about? Making room… enlarging our circles… inviting in? Thanks so much, Michele! Merry Christmas!
Your message truly resonated with me. I can only thank you for sharing your wonderful tradition with your readers. I am blessed, as I am most certain we can all look for opportunities to bless others during Advent, as well as throughout the entire year.
Amen and Amen, Dee! Thanks so much for reading! Merry Christmas! May He highlight opportunities for us all!
Kathy Cheek says
I love your ideas, they are so easy and simple, with the power to richly bless others, thank you for sharing!
A couple years ago in the check out line at a Walgreens, after I paid for my items, I broke into the box of candy canes in my bag and gave one to the clerk behind the counter. It was just a little candy cane but it put a big smile on a young man’s face.
Oh yes, Kathy! I love this! I love the reminder, too, that we can all do this and it doesn’t have to be monetary! Sometimes a simple smile, or encouraging word is such a gift, right? I mean, that is what Incourage is all about! Praying we all sense and see the opportunities God puts in front of us this season!
I love this! I like giving to random go fund me’s, or even sending someone money on Facebook when they aren’t expecting it.
That’s because you are awesome, my friend! I love these ideas, too! xoxo
Karen Woodall says
we are not far from empty nest and i think it’s so important to develop new traditions around holidays and be flexible and adaptable so you aren’t always thinking about what’s missing but looking forward to what is coming. thanks for your post
That is wisdom, right there, my friend!
Thank you for sharing! I hope I can be a blessing to others as well.
Oh Shanice, I am sure you already are! Praying God highlights new and creative ways for you to do just that this holiday season!
Susan Shipe says
Just another reason I love you so.
Right back at you, friend! xoxo
Love this! ❤️ Thank you for sharing and Merry Christmas! To you and your family. God bless xo
Thanks so much, Stephanie! Merry Christmas to you and yours, as well!
Ginger Harrington says
Love this so much. What a wonderful gift and tradition, Christmas or not!
Thanks, Ginger! Merry Christmas!
Oh, Karrilee, this is so beautiful! I think you are probably just as blessed as that server you so generously tip. When we bless others I find that we are blessed, too. It’s a wonderful feeling. Thanks for sharing your new, wonderful tradition!
Blessings to you!
Oh yes… she or he may walk away with an unexpected gift –but we are blessed as well! (Maybe even more!) Merry Christmas, friend!
I love this so much, what a way to share joy and thanks giving. Karrilee, I pray God blessing upon you and your family this Christmas season.
Thanks so much, Dale! Praying for the same thing for you and yours! Merry Christmas!
Oh friend, it’s so awesome to see you over here. I love this…and you so much!
Thanks so much, Tara! Your support and friendship are such a blessing to me! Merry Christmas, my friend!
What a wonderful way to share His love at Christmas!
It really is so much fun, Janet! It can be super low key or it can be elaborate… either way – you get to be both the blessing and the blessed! Merry Christmas!
I so love this! What a wonderful way to share God’s love.
Thanks so much, Rosanna! It is so much fun and something we look forward to now every year! Merry Christmas!
Beth Williams says
What a novel idea!! I find I get blessed when I give to others. One year I joined up with a ministry to help less fortunate. Not having much money I chose an elderly woman to buy for. Got warm socks, candy and a few other items. That person was blessed to know someone cared for them enough to get a few items. Now I do Angel Tree. This year since I have a part-time job I chose two young children. I get clothes and a toy. For these children it may be all they get at Christmas. God will see the good we do and bless us!!
A good tradition is to go caroling. Our church goes to nursing homes in the area and sings carols to the residents. They are stuck in the same place all the time and some may not even have any family to come visit. It also blesses the workers.
One year while away in college a friend won a Super bowl party. That year we had a blizzard that made driving impossible-especially in the mountains. She had left over pizza. The next morning she and I went to the nursing home across the street and helped the workers assist the residents. We also gave pizza to the workers. Those poor workers would probably be working a second shift due to weather. It gave me a sense of what is important in life!
Oh Beth, I love the way you pour out the Love of Jesus and how you let Him lead you! That is really how we position ourselves this season (and hopefully, beyond!) To lean in and listen… to catch a glimpse of His heart and to shine His Light wherever we go! I love each of the ways you shared that you are able to give and be the gift! It’s so powerful and I think often it is so much easier/doable than we let ourselves believe! Your examples were beautiful –simple ways to keep our eyes open and to reach out and bless! May He continue to move through you and to bless you as you bless others! Merry Christmas!
This moved me to tears Karrilee! What a wonderful approach! Every tradition was once new in the scheme of things and we do well to embrace rather than mourn just like you said. It’s been on my heart this year to bless a family at church in some way whose mama just lost her job of 32 years after her company was bought. Thanks for the extra push to go be the good for someone! ♥ God Bless!
Heather, isn’t He just so good? He draws us closer and at the same time, stirs us up to reach out beyond our own circles! I love your heart to bless… I am praying He will give you creative ways to bless this family and that He will multiply the seed. I know so often we can dismiss that pull because we don’t have much to give, but it doesn’t have to be much –it doesn’t even have to be monetary. Praying for you as you pour out –and for this family for provision and blessing in this transition to a new season! Merry Christmas!
Corena Hall says
I absolutely dig this idea! Thank you
Corena, first off –I am partial to your name! My sister spells it differently, but stil! xoxo Secondly, I absolutely dig it too! We are already having fun –praying into where we should go this year for dessert and praying ahead of time that the Lord will seat us in the ‘right’ section so we can bless our server! Merry Christmas!
I LOVE THIS SO MUCH! My hubby and I are empty nesters too and while Christmas Eve day and evening are spent in the thick of family stuff, our Christmas Day is not. We already have an “expedition” planned for that morning and cannot wait! It’s fun to know we are part of a community of like-minded folks!
Karen, I love this so much… yes! This is not something magical that we came up with on our own… we, too, have friends who have been “Elfing” (they call it) for years… on Christmas Eve or on Christmas Day. I too love that there is a community… a movement… to go out and be a blessing and share the Love! May God give you creative ways to shine on your expedition! Merry Christmas!
Karen Sebastian says
I absolutely love this! You have captured the true reason for the season!
I am inspired to do something like this too.
Karen, Oh I hope you do! It can be simple or big… but looking for opportunities to bless will be the best gift you get this season! Merry Christmas!
Sherilynn Matsumoto says
You have some wonderful ideas. We are empty nester so, too, but it is we who have away. Even though we’really driving just 5 hours to visit our daughter and her family for Christmas, I was at loose ends as to what else we can do this year. We’very always had grandchildren coming over all season long.
Your idea about the tips and leaving one dollar bills around, as well as finding a young mom and paying her grocery bill are going to be new traditions for us, too! Thanks!
Oh Sherilynn, you can’t know how happy this makes me! Praying for you in this transitional holiday season! May God fill you up, keep you company, and give you opportunities around every corner to pour out His love! Merry Christmas!
Thank you and my sister, Nancy,so much for sharing. Christmas used to be larger than life in our household . After my divorce 10 yrs ago I’ve searced for new meaning and heart . This year for some inexplicable reason Christmas is rising in my heart again. You have given me hope and ideas to share with my scattered family .
Oh Laura, I am praying for you… praying that the new meaning and heart and joy of Christmas will rise up and overflow through you this year in new and fun ways! Sometimes change is hard. (Who are we kidding… MOST of the time, change can be hard!) But God… He always has Change in mind that will bless and equip and rise up… that will Light, and Open, and Wrap around! And really, who doesn’t want THAT kind of Change after all? Praying in all the corners that your family is scattered, they will feel His warm and loving arms, pulling them close!
Let Hope (and the spirit of Christmas!) arise!