All I Want for Christmas…A Christmas Wishlist

All I Want for Christmas…A Christmas Wishlist

Wife, mom, daughter, teacher, blogger, crafter, organizer - but most and best of all, I am a Christian. I am passionate about my family and my God. I am married to my best friend and am blessed with a one year old son who keeps me busy all the time staying at home with him. And I am glad to be in the service of our incredible and awesome God.
Tracy Watts

Christmas and Thanksgiving mark the beginning of a holiday season supposedly centered on selflessness, contentment, and service.

However, this season often does not “feel” particularly happy or religious. In fact, with Black Friday hordes, Christmas to do lists, and advertisements of perfectly primped and styled families, it all feels very pressured, backwards, and stressful. I know that’s not how I want to feel. Nor is it how I want to act. So this year, as I look forward to holidays, I am making my own wishlist with a personal agenda.

What do I want for Christmas?

Time over Gifts

When I look back over the years, I don’t think, “Wow! What a great Christmas–that was when my grandma got me these shoes that were the very latest fad!” I think back on times when my family spent time with me. Basketball games played with cousins, hymns sung as we all crowded into the living room, sharing and passing and laughing at an overcrowded table.

These are those precious moments, those things that you store up in your heart.

It is a blessing to receive and to give gifts. But one gift doesn’t cost anything and means so much–the gift of your time. This year, I want to give that gift to my family.

Less Activity

Sometimes we get the idea that just because an activity is a “good” activity, we should do it. Well, I am only one person. And I’m pregnant and a mom and a wife…the list goes on. I can only do so much. Doing fewer things and doing them well not only helps me to be less hectic (my family will thank me later for not being so snippy and grumpy!). It also helps me to actually be present and enjoy the activities we choose to do. Less truly is more: more patience, more attention, more grace.


The Strength of Will to Focus on the Godly

There are many wonderful things about Christmas. For instance, there is no other time in the year when even the lost and the worldly are thinking about Jesus! What a great opportunity, not just to share goodwill and gifts, but to share the best gift ever given: the story of the Christ, His cross, and the salvation it brought.

Yet somehow, it is easy to “fudge” our focus. To be distracted by the hubbub, the travel, the rush of the holiday season.

It’s easy to say to myself that I’m still doing good things. That what I am doing still “counts.” Dashing around to six different stores to buy presents, filling gift sacks and stuffing fruit baskets for the elderly, signing and addressing envelopes to loved ones and friends–they can all be good things.

But they may not be the necessary things. In the craziness that is our lives, I think it is especially important that we be a Mary and not a Martha. We need to realize that the “better part” is to pause and take our gaze upward: to sit and listen at the feet of Jesus. It may mean saying “no” to some things or  losing sleep some mornings. It may mean giving up on having the “perfect” house or the “perfect” schedule. But, as we gaze upwards at the cross, at the face of our Father, we will find not only peace for our hearts but wisdom for our actions.


And we will find that everything is better after looking at Him.



Be encouraged by these posts as well!

5 things to do with Kids at Christmas Christmas Grief Christmas is Here Music Christians celebrating Hanukkah

The Other Side of Christmas

The Other Side of Christmas

Wife, mom, daughter, teacher, blogger, crafter, organizer - but most and best of all, I am a Christian. I am passionate about my family and my God. I am married to my best friend and am blessed with a one year old son who keeps me busy all the time staying at home with him. And I am glad to be in the service of our incredible and awesome God.
Tracy Watts

I love Christmas. The tingle and bite of winter air, the rosiness that rises to your cheeks when you’re outside thrills me. I love the music, the twinkle lights, the house lights. I love that people who often don’t think of Christ have their minds bent on goodwill and giving. And yet, for some–for many more than we probably realize–Christmas is a hard season. It is a bittersweet time, full of memories of those we have lost, either to eternity or conflict or distance. The other side of Christmas can be lonely, painful, or even depressing.

And while I don’t think that should lessen our joy, I do think that we can and should be aware of those struggling and sensitive to their burden. What can we do?

Pray for them.

Pray specifically for them–for comfort, for peace, but also for courage. And let them know that you are praying for them. It is a powerful and wonderful tool that we can intercede for each other on our knees before the awesome Maker of all things.

Spend time with them.

Many gifts are overrated and underused. They are cast aside in an ever-growing pile of “stuff” which sucks us into a world enamored with materialism. But the gift of your time is not only something that can help a lonely person, it is something precious and remembered. It says, “I love you enough to give up other things to just be with you.” It may even be good for you to have some perspective shed on what the “other side” is like.



One of the most valued and least developed skills is listening. Listening–and listening well (with interest, love, and warmth)–can be an enormous gift, especially to someone with struggles. Being able to talk about a loved one who died or the particular challenges of a serious illness can help heal an aching heart. And it is something that you can do no matter what your Christmas gift budget is.

So, today, go out there and bless someone who wasn’t expecting it. In return, you will be blessed beyond measure.


Stress-Free Shopping Tips: Why We Don’t Buy Gifts at Christmas Time

Stress-Free Shopping Tips: Why We Don’t Buy Gifts at Christmas Time

Hello. I grew up traveling the world as a military brat. I ultimately felt God's pull to Oklahoma Christian University where I met my husband. We now have 3 beautiful children and have settled in Mustang, Oklahoma.I am a homeschooling mom and with 3 kiddos it is a full time job! I am daily encouraged by God's great patience and grace in my life. In my free time I enjoy reading and crafting.

Here’s the scenario:  

It’s the end of November and you’re just coming out of your turkey coma.  Assuming you didn’t launch into crazy shopping mode on Black Friday, you may be considering the perks of Cyber Monday.  I mean, it’s all online right?  All you have to do is log on and shop to your heart’s desire. No laying a finger on a germ-riddled shopping cart!  You don’t have to battle the crowds. And you’re going to get crazy discounts right??  I mean, yeah, your niece doesn’t particularly need another pair of headphones, but LOOK AT THE PRICE!  Before you know it, you’re distracted.  You’ve gone from the headphones to refrigerators and now you’re looking at boots in your own size…  STOP!  Let’s take a timeout here.  Put down your device and hear me out, please, because there is a better way.

Am I telling you that you should never shop Black Friday or Cyber Monday?

Nope.  If you have a good plan, a solid list, and an incredible amount of self-control and patience, you go for it sister! I am here to encourage you, not to ask you to do something totally crazy!

Here’s what I won’t be asking: I WON’T be encouraging you to withhold gifts from those you love.  I WON’T be telling you that celebrating Christmas with gifts is wrong.  I WON’T be encouraging you to do some crazy strict thing that very few people can achieve.

I WILL be discussing easy and effective ways to shop for your loved ones throughout the year so you don’t have to do that familiar Christmastime scramble.  You know, the one where you end up running to several stores looking for that perfect gift at the last minute.  The one where you are growing increasingly anxious at the time ticking away before celebration time arrives as are the 400 other people trying to squeeze into the mall parking lot.

Tips for Stress-Free Shopping

Blah.  Just writing about the Christmas shopping craziness makes me tense.  There’s no need for your gift-giving occasions to leave you scrambling, frustrated, and frazzled.  Here are a few things to think about when you’re getting started with your stress-free year-round shopping:

  • Let go of the notion that you MUST get the best deal out there.  Let your bank account dictate the best deal for you.  What’s a fair price for the gift you’re looking for?  Is your budget able to accommodate that?
  • Stick to the basics.  For our purposes, my husband and I generally buy all of our children’s gifts throughout the year.  That means that we have to stay away from fads and seasonal items and stick with basic things that our children love through different ages and stages.
  • Technology is your friend, so don’t forget to use it!  If you’re walking through the store and spot an item marked down, hop on your smart phone if you have one and check out competitor’s prices.  Chances are if it’s on sale at one store, it could be somewhere else too.  That’s an easy way to make sure you’re getting a great deal.
  • Pay attention to peak sale times.  My husband and I love to stroll through different stores when we’re out together without our kids (which is a rare occasion indeed).  One thing that we’ve noticed through the years is that we find excellent sales when we’re “window shopping” on our anniversary date.  That’s mid-July.  Why is Walmart clearancing out toys in mid-July?  I have no idea, but it’s worth noting if you’re going to be year-round shopping.  After Christmas sales are generally good as well as sales in the fall when summer type toys go on sale.

Advantages to Shopping Year-Round

By shopping year round I get to gauge my children’s consistent interests and buy things that they will appreciate well into the next Christmas.  For us that generally looks like Legos, art supplies, books, building sets, and clothes.  As a nation blessed beyond abundance, I feel responsible for keeping my children grounded.  Let’s face it, kids love the latest and greatest thing.  We do not have traditional television in our home, so my children rarely see commercials, but when they do, you’d think that these children have never received a gift in their life.  Suddenly a stuffed animal that turns into a pillow AND holds your pajamas inside is THE MOST AMAZING THING EVERRRRR.  Never mind that they have no need for something like that, or that they never touch the 5 billion stuffed animals they already have.  Luke 12:15 says this:

And he said to them, “Take care and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”  

I want to ensure that my family remembers these words, especially during the Christmas season.  Along with the relaxation I gain during the holidays by shopping this way, I also gain a sense of financial stability.  There’s no saving for months in order to make Christmas “happen.”  There’s no going into debt in order to find the latest craze and pay more than normal for it at the last minute.  I waste less money on impulse buys when I know I have more time to look.  I also waste less money on junk.

This all stems from our desire to be good stewards of the money we have been blessed with.

For me, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of knowing that I have a well-stocked closet with gifts for any occasions.  There’s no post-Thanksgiving scramble for this girl.  I can ride on into December knowing that other than a few things here and there, I’m set for Christmas and can set my focus on Christ our Savior.

How do you handle holiday shopping? 

What ways do you ensure that your family is focusing on things greater than earthly possessions?


Opening The Christmas Box

Opening The Christmas Box

Hello. I grew up traveling the world as a military brat. I ultimately felt God's pull to Oklahoma Christian University where I met my husband. We now have 3 beautiful children and have settled in Mustang, Oklahoma.I am a homeschooling mom and with 3 kiddos it is a full time job! I am daily encouraged by God's great patience and grace in my life. In my free time I enjoy reading and crafting.

I love this time of year.

The cooler weather, the music, the giving spirit that seem present in so many ways; it’s beautiful.  I also love the traditions that my family and my husband’s family have passed on through the generations.  As we began forming our own family traditions, I stumbled upon a new idea that I hadn’t heard before.  I wish I could credit a particular source, however I’ve seen it and read about it from several places. So I’m not sure who to give credit to!  I should note that I’m not the creator of this idea, but we do tweak it to make it just right for our family.

We call it the Christmas Box.

Each year in November or early December I begin working on our Christmas Box.  My goal is to fill our Christmas Box with things that will create beautiful memories for our family.  I usually include:

  • Homemade “tickets” to our local holiday light show.  It’s one of our favorite things to do each year.
  • Mugs for hot chocolate and one of our favorite Christmas movies.
  • A special treat for each person.  For the kids it’s as simple as a candy cane or piece of chocolate.  For my husband and I, I’ve been known to buy a candy bar or throw in a Starbucks gift card.
  • Glow wands for the kids to use during the drive and long wait for the light show. 
  • A new pair of pajamas for each person.  This one is subject to interpretation.  Let’s face it, my husband and I only need so many pairs of pajama pants! So some years I just fold up some old ones and throw them in the box.  However, our kids still need a new pair each year, so it’s a nice way to throw in that extra gift.
  • At least one good Christmas book that tells the story of Christ’s birth.  We also use our Bible to reinforce where the true story of Christ comes from.

Our Family’s Traditions

For our family, we choose a day that works for us since we spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with our families out of town.  I try to pick a Saturday.. That way, everyone is well-rested and we can get an early-ish start on our celebration.  We generally have a sit-down dinner a little bit early and then we open our Christmas Box.  The kids are always so thrilled to see each thing inside.  Everyone changes into their new pj’s and we begin sorting through the goodies in the box.

Our kiddos are still pretty young, so we don’t plan much for after the light show.  Generally the line is long and everyone is ready for bed shortly after we get home. After we get home, we open gifts and then put the kids in bed.  That means that we have to get to everything else in the box before we leave.  That can be a little tricky when I get overzealous and fill it to the brim!  However, there have been times where we’ve opted to save something for the following day.  I try to choose a short Christmas movie and we watch it before we leave or even save it until the next day.

Using the Christmas Box to Focus on Jesus

This new tradition is something I look forward to every year and I hope that it’s something that my children look forward to as well.  I’m excited to see how it changes as they grow older.  I love that I can use the things I put in this box to reinforce the birth of our Savior.  With Christmas becoming more commercialized every year, it can really be a struggle to keep our children focused on our Savior.  Even for those that don’t use Christmas to celebrate the birth of Christ, most parents don’t want children whining, begging, or demanding certain gifts for two months every year.

I think it’s important to help point our children’s hearts toward Christ-like behaviors.  I struggle with getting my children to focus on giving to others rather than focusing on their own desires.  The Christmas Box helps me reinforce the importance of family time and togetherness, rather than just gifts and the individual.

How do you help point your children toward Christ or Christ-like behaviors at Christmas?

What traditions, old or new, do you enjoy with your family during the holidays?

Pin It on Pinterest