I vow every December to find more ways to celebrate the real reason for the season—Jesus! After Thanksgiving, I get out my box of advent accessories and stacks of Christ-centered Christmas books. I set out the many nativity scenes we own, several of which are hands-on for the littlest ones. Then we decorate the tree and the house and maybe get a wreath hung outside the entry. The Christmas songs play in the background and I really think this might be the year when life slows down like a Norman Rockwell picture. Then it’s a blur of activity and gifts and busyness until we’re ringing in the New Year. Where did the month go? All my hopes for a cozy season that slows down to savor the Savior are dashed. Although we make time for lighting the Advent candles at least half of the month, I find most of the Christmas books are never read aloud to little ears that need to hear the story. And forget about the great craft and baking ideas I have stashed in a file. If I get a batch of cookies in and one simple craft started, I’m doing great. It seems that December gets so full of Christmas activities and parties and shopping, that I guiltily feel relieved when January rolls around. On top of our busy everyday lives, it’s a wonder any of us have time for Christmas at all. Why is it so hard to squeeze Christ into Christmas? It ought not be so. The problem is a simple one. We can’t do it all. I don’t remember which expert said it, but it holds especially true this month: Saying ‘yes’ to something, means saying ‘no’ to something else. If I want to say ‘yes’ to a month-long focus on Christ, then I must say ‘no’ to some other things that distract me from that, even good things. This year, we’re saying ‘no’ to some regular homeschool subjects so that we can say ‘yes’ to a Christmas learning experience. I’ve decided to devote our learning for December to all things Christmas, especially Christ. Our homeschooling focus will shift from our usual devotional, read-aloud, science, history, geography and writing to focus solely on the birth of our Savior. We will continue with daily math lessons, as well as basic language arts, but everything else in our little homeschool will center on Christmas. Although we won’t get to all of these, here are some ideas on our list: -Learn how Christmas is celebrated around the world -Read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens -Or if that’s too much for my kiddos, read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever -Study the history of crèches -Learn some traditional Christmas hymns or carols -Create a Jesse Tree during Advent -Serve your community, whether it’s ringing a bell for the Salvation Army or feeding the homeless or visiting a nursing home -Give gifts to those in real need—find out about a local family or work with local ministries like Angel Tree or Salvation Army -Make ornaments for your Christmas tree and be sure the kids sign and date them -Invite a lonely soul over for some part of your celebration -See a local performance of Handel’s Messiah or another Christmas concert -Attend the Christmas Eve service at church -Watch several Christmas movies, like A Nativity Story, It’s a Wonderful Life, A Charlie Brown Christmas (which is very Christ centered, by the way) -Visit a living nativity -Take lots of pictures of it all I hope you’ll give yourself permission this December to step back from some of the ordinary learning to focus on the extraordinary gift of Christ. You’ll still learn a lot, but you’ll also create family memories that will outlast and outweigh anything you might miss. And you’ll show with your time, not just your talk, that the King of Kings is worth your devotion and attention. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to read another Christmas story to my little ones who still fit on my lap. And maybe I’ll let the bigger ones have a try at making some Christmas cookies all by themselves. If I slow down enough, I know I’ll make a memory in their hearts and spread the joy of Jesus in my home. And from there, you never know where it will lead. -originally published December 3, 2010 Melissa Morgner is a happy wife of 17 years to her college sweetheart and mother to six loud, but lovable children ranging in age from 13 down to three. After ten years of homeschooling and sampling way too much curriculum, she takes an eclectic approach in their little schoolroom, choosing resources that best suit the children and the teacher. Her busy household puts her gifts of juggling and winging it to the test each day. She steals moments here and there to write on her blog, Day In Day Out, about the lessons she’s learning from the Lord in the routine but privileged tasks of mothering and homeschooling.