A new family tradition for the holiday begins this winter as the "12 Gifts of Christmas" tour (www.12gifts.com) stops at a dozen arenas across America. The three-hour evening of music, comedy and encouragement features GRAMMY-winning artists Steven Curtis Chapman and Laura Story, and is hosted by actress/author/speaker Lisa Whelchel (of "Facts of Life" and "Survivor: Philippines" fame). It also includes storytellers Mary Beth Chapman, Patsy Clairmont, Luci Swindoll and Marilyn Meberg, comedienne Anita Renfroe, and illusionist Harris III.
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"I will be welcoming everybody into the living room," shares Whelchel of the outing's November 29 opening. "We're all going to sing Christmas carols together, [hear stories] and it's all going to be very relational. And I really love the format. It's very unique. I've been involved with Women of Faith and other women's events where we spend Frinday night and Saturday morning or all day Saturday together and that's great, but this is geared for the whole family and for today's culture that's so fast-paced. It's a one-night event, but feels like you've had a whole day's worth."
Advice for the Holiday-Weary
As someone with three 20-something children of her own (Tucker, Haven and Clancy), Whelchel can certainly relate to the craziness of varying Christmas schedules, which coupled with touring commitments, makes balance an essential ingredient in her life. She's empathetic to families that are pulled in various directions as they embark upon errands, gatherings, and hopefully at the top of the list, reflecting on the real reason for the season.
"I remember a year when my kids were about 7, 8 and 9 and I was just talking to the Lord saying, 'sometimes I feel like Jesus gets lost at His own birthday party," she admits. "'I don't want to throw out all the fun celebrations and festivities, but at the same time, how do I make this more about you Jesus?' I just sensed He was saying 'don't do anything differently. I love a party. I love celebration. Keep all the decorations, keep all the hustle and bustle because it's fun and full of joy, but just find me and look for me in the middle of it.' I actually wrote a book called The Adventure of Christmas talking about how if we stop for a moment and look deeply at everything that we do at Christmas, no matter how much it looks like it's detracting, you can find Jesus in it and can really celebrate Him even deeper in the middle of the hustle and bustle."
Long-time friend Mary Beth Chapman can certainly relate to a full family plate that includes her hubby Steven Curtis, alongside children Emily (26), Caleb (22), Will Franklin (21), Shaohannah Hope (12), Stevey Joy (9) and Maria Sue (who is now with Jesus). Having her husband and their two sons on the tour certainly helps, though that doesn't mean the pace of their busy lives will slow down after the tour or commemorating Christ's coming into the world (as we learned when asking her for wisdom on how to stay sensible this season).
"I'm not old enough for wisdom (laughter), but suggestions? Have your son announce he is getting married in Dallas on December 28th! That always keeps a mother sane," unveils Mary Beth Chapman of another exciting, albeit tightly timed development this season. "Seriously, we really try to remember going into December that we would rather have time with each other and it's not about the 'stuff.' Sure, gifts are nice, but I try to keep perspective and protect some time to just sit. However, we will be driving to Dallas for our 'sitting' time this year! And laughing is always good!"
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