Before I really even knew Nancy I knew her husband. He was my boss at Houston's First and is one of the people I respect most in the entire world. And when he spoke of Nancy his whole face changed. This man I respected so much respected her so much. He adores her and that is clear. As I got to know Nancy I saw a woman who was incredibly genuine and really passionate about her life having meaning. If we are being honest, which you know I always am, she is one of those women that is so nice you wonder if it is real. Well, I promise you, it's real. She speaks the truth but always in love. I went on a trip with her and a few women from our church recently. I was preparing a lesson and had left my concordance at home. No worries though, Nancy quickly became my personal concordance. She has worked hard at memorizing scripture (and even published a book on it-- see below). So if you hadn't already met Nancy, now you have. I know you will love her too.
What has been 1-3 of your favorite Christmas traditions as a family?
1. We started preparing for Christmas on Halloween, as we didn’t celebrate “Halloween,” so we would take the kids to the mall on Halloween and they could shop and make a Christmas wish list. We lived in a small town in Missouri and so going into the “city” was really big for the kids!
2. When the kids were young – actually through high school- we would watch “It’s a wonderful life” on Christmas Eve as a family and drink hot chocolate. We would turn all the lights out, except the Christmas tree lights and make it like we were at the movie theater.
3. We always had the manger scene out and put Baby Jesus in on Christmas morning and then read the Christmas story.
What has been some of your biggest regrets about the holidays?
Wish we would have adopted a family each year to provide for. We gave toys and such to different ministries, but I think it would have been a powerful thing to have adopted a family and taken them the gifts.
Did you do Santa? Share reasons and what you'd do different. If you didn't, how did you explain it to your kid so they weren't "that kid?" If you did, how did you explain that Santa wasn't real and did it break their trust in you?
1. We did not do Santa in a traditional way. We told the kids the story of how Santa came to be and that parents now carry on the tradition by providing special gifts for their children on Christmas morning. We didn’t make a big deal of it, but did tell them that some kids really believed in a real Santa and that it was up to their parents to tell them the truth some day. Hopefully, they weren’t “that” kid!
2. We had to be a buffer sometimes between what “Grandparents” wanted to do and what we were trying to teach our kids. My go to quote was – choose your battles! So, I did not want to dishonor my parents by acting like my way of parenting was the “better way.” So, I learned to compromise when my kids were with their grandparents (we lived far away from both until they were in middle school) and just let them enjoy their grandkids and talk about Santa if they wanted. I don’t think Santa is evil – the idea is a good idea, but it is not the main idea of Christmas. It is up to us as parents to teach them that Jesus is the main idea.
How do you do gifts for your kids? Others?
We made a huge deal about the kid’s birthdays. I would decorate after they went to bed the night before their birthday. I would decorate the entire house with banners on their bedroom doors, over the dining table and down the hall with balloons and streamers. The decorations would stay up for an entire week and they got their meal served on the “special plate.” Then when Christmas came around they realized it was not “their” holiday, but Jesus’ birthday – deserving more decorations and up for an entire month! As they got older we would give them one really nice gift and always fill their stockings – even now and they are 24 and 26! It amazes me that they really never begged for a lot of toys and things at Christmas, they came to realize that Christmas wasn’t about them, but about Jesus- just like their birthdays were about them.
Anything else you'd like to share?
One thing I did last year was really special – now my kids are older and they never ask for anything for Christmas, so I gave them each, including my daughter-in-law, a gift with the purpose of building communication and relationship. So, I gave will a journal and wrote him a card asking him to write poems, songs or prose and to share them with me as he did throughout the year. I gave my daughter-in-law a Bible study by Beth Moore and told her we would go to Bible study together and dinner. I gave my daughter a movie pass and told her she could use it only if she asked me to go with her! Sometimes it gets harder to buy for your kids as they become adults and so putting the emphasis on relationship rather than “stuff” really makes the gifts more meaningful and more about eternal things rather than the material.
Nancy and her husband, William, live in Houston. If you'd like to learn more from Nancy and you live in Houston, check out her Sunday School class, The Heights (women only), at Houston's First Baptist You can follow Nancy on Facebook and check out her blog, provetheword.blogspot.com. And if you want a good read that could improve your life, buy Nancy's book Taking the Word to Heart here.