It's almost Christmas? Stop for a moment and think about that! It is almost CHRISTmas! Christmas is one of the most important days of the year yet, we try to pack so much into the "season" that we are too tired to enjoy the miracle of the day. With all the Christmas programs, Christmas parties, Christmas caroling, Christmas decorating and Christmas gifts...we have lost the joy that is CHRISTmas. As children's leaders, we are so busy running around...trying to fit everything into our schedule that we often miss the Christ moment of it all. Slow down and enjoy the moment...the Christ moment...the very first Christmas moment. A moment where all was calm, peaceful...and quiet. At that moment, the focus was on one tiny baby...even though the world around them was all a buzz. The world was so busy that they missed the first CHRISTmas. Let us not get so busy that we miss CHRISTmas! Solution...Simplify everything else, cut corners, skip activities that you are trying to schedule in...and enjoy more Christ time. I know it is too late to plan for this year...however, it is calendar planning season! Make changes now for next year! A few new (less stressful) thoughts/ideas! Deadline: Set a cut off date for all planned church Christmas activities (December 14th - Second Sunday of December is a good goal)...and then focus on what is really important. Christ and YOUR family! Christmas Caroling inside the church: Consider teaching the children 2-4 fun and easy Christmas songs (start early, learn one new song per month. Make it a part of your worship time each Sunday (no extra practices needed), make wrist bells (pipe cleaners and jingle bells) to wear around their wrist and ring as they go caroling down the hallways of your church. Stop at each classroom and sing a song or two (make arrangements first of course). Wear hats, scarves and mittens...just as you would for outdoors caroling. When finished, serve hot chocolate and snacks. Throw in a few extra activities and games and you have just thrown your Christmas class party as well. Consider replacing your Christmas play with this morning of Christmas Caroling. Parents will still see their child perform and the stress level has just decreased...for you as well as the for the parent. If you still want/need to perform in front of the church, have the kids wear their coats, hats, gloves, etc and perform the same songs they learned for their morning of caroling. Kids missing? No problem! Not enough time? No problem! Kid back out at the last moment? No problem! Not enough kids for a play/musical? No problem! Take this same activity (caroling) on the road...visit senior living facilities and brighten their day. You will reach just as many (or more) as you would by doing a Christmas play...without the stress. Plus you share Christmas with those who are often forgotten. Ring the bell for the Salvation army: Teach the children the meaning of sharing with those who are less fortunate. I schedule our children in 1 hour shifts. Plenty of time for them to ring and enjoy...not enough time for them to get bored and lose interest. I have prayed for you today! Remember to keep Christ first...and enjoy LOTS of fun, quiet, stress free family time. Hot chocolate, cookie decorating (pre-made cookies or frozen sugar cookie dough to drop and bake are just fine for this evening together), scripture time with family, easy "family only" Birthday party for Jesus, a Christmas light drive, and reading Christmas stories, are all fun, stress free activities that you can share. And remember to give lots of cuddles while watching Christmas movies and sharing popcorn! These are the moments you...and your family will remember! Slow down...and enjoy CHRISTmas!