About the Author

Anna works full-time for DaySpring from Minnesota, where she lives with her husband and four kids. Anna is the author of A Moment of Christmas and Pumpkin Spice for Your Soul, and she shares the good stuff of the regular, encouraging you to see the ordinary glory in your everyday.

(in)side DaySpring: things we love
& you will too!
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(in)side DaySpring:
things we love
& you will too!
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Reader Interactions


  1. Anna,
    The ornament…LOL…that is just too classic! I think we ALL need to know where she got that, because we can ALL relate. One Christmas eve when everyone else was enjoying wine or hot chocolate and appetizers (which I had made) after church, I found myself alone in my closet wrapping last minute gifts. I’m sure I was grumbling about Christmas and wondering what’s wrong with this picture? Christmas carols sing of “rest, silent, hark, joy, merry, come all ye faithful.” I wasn’t experiencing any of that and knew something needed to change. I’ve since cut way back on the decorating. I don’t bake (none of us needs the calories). I set up a wrapping station that I can go to when I have five minutes to spare. I make an Advent devotional a MUST. I’m learning to let go of what is not essential and hold tightly to what is a priority. Time with God and languishing in the awesome gift of His Son is my utmost priority this season. Everything else is icing on the cake. Great post!
    Bev xx

  2. I love our advent calendar and how much our kids look forward to it. It has a scripture passage to read and an activity to do…usually something simple like drink hot chocolate or something that is already on our calendar like attend the Christmas concert at church 🙂

  3. There are so many things I love about the Christmas season. One of my favorite traditions is reading to my kids around the lighted tree. I gather our Christmas themed books (and get some from the library). It is such a peaceful way to end any day!

    Thank you for this giveaway!!

  4. My favorite tradition for 45 years is reading the Bible Christmas story and “The Night Before Christmas” in our Christmas PJs just before bed on Christmas Eve. My mother did it with me since I was born and now I do it with my son.

  5. Because I do not have grandchildren, my favorite Christmas tradition is having my nieces (ages 11 and 6) come to bake cookies and to make a Christmas craft. We spend the day together and I rejoice in their time with me. This year we will add the newest niece (age 1) to our festive day.

  6. We always read the Christmas story from Luke at my in-laws before eating Christmas lunch. This is a tradition passed down from my father-in-law’s family. He recently passed away and my husband and I will be hosting the family this year and we will be continuing the tradition.

  7. Growing up I always disliked it when I asked why we did something and the answer was “Because that’s the way we always do it.” So as a mom with 3 kids I try to make sure we do some Christmas activities every year, but I don’t stress about doing every activity every year. So my favorite tradition is that we have no “have to” annual traditions that feel more like a burden then a joy.

  8. Even though my daughter is two, I feel like this is our first Christmas of freedom. It’s my favorite time of year, so I am looking forward to building new traditions together.

  9. That ornament made me laugh that is so true. A tradition I love with my family is going to Christmas Eve service and looking at Christmas lights. Then we go home and make dinner together as a family. Love this time of laughter and reme bering old times. Usually after that we watch Its A Wonderful Life.

  10. Advent devotions around our dining room table have been the source of my sweetest memories. It helps that we have a St. Bernard who “sings” with us on all the carols, and all the little things we did to unwrap the mystery of Jesus, the best Christmas gift, still linger as sweet memories for me in our present season of the empty-ing nest.

  11. Back on the day, the Christmas tree went up the day before Christmas Eve, was mysteriously simply and beautifully decorated overnight, we as children added a few ornaments here and there throughout the season, and the tree came down the day after ‘Little Christmas’, Epiphany. The anticipation and enjoyment of the nativity, the special foods, even for Epiphany and the Celebration of Lights is all part of the beautiful memories of family. We were pointed to the manger. While you are creating the “perfect everything” are you creating the manger of your heart for The Perfect Gift ? My outdoor wreath shines simply and brightly Christmas Eve day and through the season to Epiphany, long after many of my neighbors decor is removed.
    “Yes !! We love You first, Lord. Help us loosen that we may grasp.” Love it. Love Him. Fall on your knees. Prince of Peace. Lord of Lords. Savior. Messiah. Immanuel. Amen.

  12. Putting up our collection of nativity creches, and admiring the many ways artists have captured the Christmas story.

  13. Growing up we had many sweet family Christmas traditions, but things changed after our parents joined Jesus in heaven. My husband, two sweet dogs and I now enjoy our time together, around the tree, remembering all the goodness of years gone by and Gods great love for us. Christmas is now simple for us. Simply beautiful❤️

  14. My favorite Advent tradition is lighting the Advent wreath each evening and reading the devotion that goes along with it.,

  15. At our house we have done different things different years, including skipping outdoor decorations or even the tree, but one thing I make sure we do is display the nativity scene. It keeps us focused on the real meaning of Christmas, and because our nativity scene is a hand carved one we got when we lived in Central Africa, it doesn’t look quite like some traditional nativity scenes. It also reminds us of people celebrating Christ’s birth around the world and that Jesus came for all peoples of the earth.

  16. When I was little, my uncle sent my family a lovely advent wreath set…it was great until one year I walked in the room and saw it on FIRE. Though our practice of advent changes over the years to accommodate the stage of life our girls are in, we always do our best to make it a practice. And, I always have the fire story to share.

  17. Driving hours with my kids back to my home town for our annual goodie making day is one of my favorite traditions. My grandma passed away three years ago this Christmas but we have still kept it going. Otherwise, most of traditions keep changing like this year my in laws decided to not do any gifts this year so another change. I’m trying to be better about focusing on the gift of Jesus with advent.

  18. With Advent comes a spirit of renewal and a strong desire to come to Him, to be with Him and to love Him. I surround myself with reminders that keep me firmly focused on the true meaning of the season. From the nativity scene on my mantel, to the basket filled with a selection of biblical Christmas books, to a seasonal devotional set aside to reflect on His life and promises, I remain immersed in thankfulness, hope and love.

  19. Last year, we began a very simple nightly advent reading and listening to a Christmas song as a family. It wasn’t fancy – lighting a little votive candle, reading a little paragraph, listening quietly to a song. And we didn’t get to do it every single night, because well, life. Holidays are insane. The nights we were able, though, were some of the best of the whole Christmas season.

  20. Each December we choose a night to make hot cocoa, put it in travel mugs, pack up a box of homemade Christmas cookies and pile the kids into the car to drive around town to see all the houses lit up with beautiful lights! We ooh and ahh together, laugh and enjoy each others company as we search for homes bursting with cheer! It’s an evening spent together each year that our children have grown to anticipate with excitement and a tradition I think they’ll carry on with their own children someday.

  21. We have a Jesse tree with ornaments made years ago in MOPs. Each year we hang the daily ornaments and read the verse and devotion for that day as a family.

  22. This devotional was a blessing to me and is much needed during the busy holiday season. In years past, I could literally feel the pressure building as Christmas approached. One of the things that I stopped doing was pressuring myself to get my family dressed and out of the house to take photos for our annual Christmas card. It felt good to let that go as I was the one who ordered the cards, addressed them and purchased stamps to send them out. Poof! Pressure gone, leaving me room to celebrate the season with my family.

    My favorite holiday tradition is putting up and decorating the Christmas tree, which involves playing Christmas music and enjoying egg nog or hot chocolate while we decorate.

  23. My favorite is having my granddaughters read a book we have read for many years “B is for Bethlehem” – a children’s book that celebrates Jesus’s birth in rhyme and fun illustrations. After the book, someone else reads from Luke 2. Then my husband prays. What a precious time together. I was thrilled when my overseas teen granddaughter commented how she missed reading that book on Christmas. I wrapped it up and mailed it to her! Now she can Skype and read it to her young cousins. But this year they are home for a visit and we can again read it together! (PS- I did buy myself another one to have here for my other grands as well!)

  24. My most favorite Christmas tradition is attending the midnight candle-lit Chrismas Eve service at church. It is something I always look forward to.

  25. Beautiful devotion and love the design cover and the design of your website!
    Thank you for this reminder. I will have moved three times during December, one will be this December.
    All the decorations and traditions will not get carried out, and that will be okay. Two things I keep
    because they bring us all joy: a real tree and stockings for everyone.

  26. Growing up Catholic, we had always done an Advent wreath, lighting one candle each Sunday of Advent. So,,,, when I had kids, I continued the tradition. Even now, when they’re mostly grown and gone, I still look forward to lighting that wreath each Sunday!

  27. We don’t have a lot of Christmas traditions in our family, but we do open our presents on Christams Eve which is fun. It leaves Christmas morning for more focus on Christmas.

  28. I love the Christmas season . one of my many favorites is making cookies with my kids. We just take a day to do cookies alsi okay games and make it a snack day. It seems to grow every year. We use my grandma cookie recipe which makes it even more special

  29. My favorite part of Christmas is getting the family all together in one place! With a daughter in Co!orado, another in Portland and another in the farthest reaches of northeastern Oregon, we rarely get all of us together in our North coast Oregon home. Christmas gets that done. It’s chaotic and crazy and wonderful!

  30. Just ordered this wonderful gift for myself. It can’t come at a better time to be still and focus on what is important. When I read the message above it was like you were speaking to me, I have been really trying hard to find a way to focus on what is important this Christmas. I am really excited to start reading A moment of Christmas! Thank you Thank you!!

  31. Since moving to Tennessee 6.5 years ago, holidays are a little quieter around these parts. Since I’m longer married and all of our family are in different states, it’s just the three of us. We usually go to a Christmas concert together every year. It’s been so busy we haven’t had time to discuss that yet. We usually go to a Christmas event here in town during the weekend as well. With our schedules this year, our weekly dinners together have had to be put on hold, so we will see what this year holds for us. 🙂 Being together is the most important thing!

  32. First of all, thanks for this needed reminder. It’s so true, even though my husband and two grown sons love Christmas and help me, the bulk of the burden does fall on me. I’ve had to learn this over the years, even though I don’t WANT to let many things go, because I love them all. But we must prioritize what’s truly important. It sounds funny, but it took me awhile to understand that just because I give something up one year doesn’t mean I have to let it go forever. That helps me let go of things that I really enjoy if needed, knowing it’s only a matter of time before I can do them again.

    As for the favorite tradition, this is just a fun one we adopted from my the way my parents did stockings for us. Instead of filling the stockings on Christmas Eve the traditional way, we hung our stockings when we decorated the house for Christmas, near the beginning of December. Any morning we might wake up to a mysterious lump in our stockings (hung on our bed-posts, since we didn’t have a fireplace mantel). It made the long wait until Christmas more bearable and exciting for us, especially as young children. We still enjoy this tradition of stretching out the surprises all month long (and sometimes even a day or two after Christmas). I’m glad my parents were willing to think outside of the box.

  33. Reading the Christmas story before we open gifts at my parents. My father was promoted to heaven 3 years ago so my mom read it. She joined dad this past May so my nephew is going to read this year. We’re going through this year of”firsts” and finding our new normal with God’s strength and grace.

  34. Thank you for this reminder. Both my kids and my dad have December birthdays so I completely understand that extra busyness during the holiday season! I appreciate the lesson that if there is one thing we don’t do this year, we can do it again next year and it’s ok! The world won’t fall apart! The worst stress is that which I place on myself.

  35. We love to decorate the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. It’s so fun taking out the homemade ornaments that my son made at school, hanging them on the Christmas tree, and reminiscing about them. We also make sure to put out our Nativity Scene. We have a Christmas counter, and my son loves to wake up and change the number of days until Christmas. The little things…..

  36. Even though my siblings and I are grown, we STILL go over to daddy’s house on Christmas morning in our pajamas, as if we had woken up on Christmas morning there like when we were kids. Smells like maple syrup from breakfast with Christmas music playing in the background. Our kids running around crazy, wrapping paper everywhere, but we still sit and soak in some time on daddy’s lap, just like when we were little. ❤️

  37. Do you know we can get caught up with worlds way of Christmas. Especially if we have unsaved family. They say you must by Christmas presents for family because it Christmas. Not because of the real meaning of Christmas. Spend money you know you can’t really afford. Especially if most years they go out as family like mine for a family meal. We club together to pay for my Parent and the rest of the meal. You feel saying they offer to buy you a drink even though it non alcohol because you don’t drink. You have to buy them and everyone else there a drink alcohol or non alcohol drink as well. You out money you can’t really afford. You go if it a family meal for peace sake. But I know I don’t want to be there. As it not my seen. I have to ask myself would God want me waisting my money on buying drink when I don’t drink. Christmas time spending money you can’t afford on presents you can’t afford. So I did like the title of today’s reading said. God told me Dawn be honest with them. I was honest with my family. I said I can’t afford this family meal together every now and then at Christmas as nice as it is in all. Christmas presents. I be buying what me and my husband can afford. I prayed that my family would appreciate that I was honest with them. Rather than us spend money that we couldn’t afford. God wouldn’t want us too. Especially when there are people homeless people in the world starving. The money could go to Gods work. The best present I could give my family this Christmas is to live my life in front of them for Jesus God told me. Especially when none of them saved and pray for them to see Jesus in me and want what I have. That is Jesus as their Saviour. My family where very understanding when I explained all that to them. I then thanked God. As I knew God made them see it from my side. I was so relieved. That they where understanding. The family meal when it takes place they say pay what you can afford if I have to pay. So God is Good all the time and all the time God is Good. Buy present Dawn you and your Husband can afford. At least you give a present. I though you know what yes at least we give a present at Christmas to you all. But Jesus is the real reason we have Christmas. Even though 25th December is not his real Birthday as the Bible does not give the date of when Jesus was born. But talks about his Birth and him being the best present to all the world that we can give people by tell the story of his Birth. I say AMEN TO THAT. Xxx

  38. Oh Hi! I know exactly what you mean with Christmas & Birthday’s adding extra to do! My son’s birthday is early December, mine is early January & my daughter’s is early February! I don’t have any traditions. I just try to stay afloat! In addition to the ☺️Holidays & Birthdays I suddenly became a single mom when my son was a baby, not by choice. My ex left me. I spend most of Christmas Day with out my kids. It can be a very sad time and I would love your devotional! I am praying for a Christmas miracle for my family this year, as I have been praying for it for 12 years.

  39. Oh, glory be. My daughter’s birthday party was this last Saturday (home princess party for 8 little girls), her birthday was on Sunday. My son’s birthday is the day before Thanksgiving, and we are celebrating his birthday dinner on Sunday, because he is with his father on his actual birthday (son from first marriage). Then, Thanksgiving, and suddenly Christmas is here! While I love it all, and I’m so thankful for these moments, I can quickly get submerged in the mire that is preparation. And I am a person who has her Christmas cards ready to be mailed the day before Thanksgiving, so they arrive the day after to everyone. You know, the carefully curated pictures from the previous year. Yeah, not this year. I opted to write cards this year, rather than spend the 2 hours trying to put a picture card together. I wrote them out in less than 2 hours, and saved myself some much needed stress and time. So yeah, I get this. Completely.

    • Sarah. This is my favorite. You so get this!! I have a just-before-Thanksgiving kid birthday, and a just-before-Christmas kid birthday. Also yes to the cards. So much yes to the cards.

  40. My niece Samantha always brings a birthday cake to our family Christmas celebration so that all the kiddo’s can sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. It helps them to stop and focus on what we are all really there to celebrate. It has become a wonderful tradition.

  41. We always make a special three layer Jesus birthday cake. We read a story about the cake, each light a candle and say, “ We are the light of the world to shine for Jesus.” Then sing Happy Birthday!

  42. We have a family tradition of going to see The Nutcracker. One year for financial reasons mainly, I took it off my list even though it made me feel like a terrible mother. We survived; my two daughters missed it, but we still did all of our other traditions. The next year we went and enjoyed it even more!

  43. I’ve already started putting out a few of the Christmas decorations and have decided NOT to put out anything that we don’t love. Some things we’ve had for so long they’re starting to look downright shabby. Time to let them go. That will mean quicker decorating and quicker clean-up come January.

  44. Love the ornament! It reminded me of the funny if the three wise men were women: they would’ve asked for directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the Baby, swept the stable, made a casserole and brought practical gifts! LOL

    Trying to pace myself and do a little bit at a time. Decorations come out the day after thanksgiving and what doesn’t go up in 2 days stays packed away. Then the wrapping starts for what I’ve purchased (not every little thing one at a time but several things at once while I’ve got the supplies handy). I’ve basically given up on Christmas cards (I actually switched up to Easter cards instead) and the dozens of cookies and candies have gone by the wayside as well. We haven’t bought gifts for siblings or adult nieces and nephews for years. Instead we each bring a gift card or something in the $25 dollar range and either do a “right/left story” swap or a Chinese gift exchange. Either one is loads of fun and one of my favorite things, as is enjoying my tree every evening. My only grand baby will be 1 just days before Christmas so a party has been added to the calendar and I can hardly wait! Celebrating with my family is the BEST part of it all!

      • Google “right left stories” and a bunch will come up. Print one of the off to use. Everyone stands in a circle with their gift (& gift cards are always put with a little something – candy, candle, etc. so you’re passing a present, not just an envelope. Someone (we use a on older kid that’s not in the exchange yet) reads the story and every time you hear right or left in the story you pass your gift in that direction. Mayhem typically occurs a couple of times when someone is holding 2 gifts or no gift LOL! At the end of the story what you’re holding is your gift.

        The Chinese gift exchange is fun, too. Put all the gifts on a table. Have numbered slips of paper and each person draws a number. Starting with whoever got #1, that person picks a gift off the table and opens it. Then #2 goes and can either “steal” #1s gift or chose one from the table. They unwrap their gift. If they take #1s, #1 chooses another gift. Move on to #3 – they either “steal” an open gift or choose a new one and so on. We have a rule that a gift can only be “stolen” two times. When everyone has had a turn the person with #1 gets to go again by swapping their gift with anyone else’s gift and the game is over! Tons of fun! (This is similar to a white elephant gift exchange except there are no gag gifts.)

  45. I am excited to get and read A Moment of Christmas! 🙂 One of my favorite traditions is baking everyone’s holiday favorites! We also make homemade pancakes with mini M&M’s in them Christmas morning! It is the only time we make them so something everyone looks forward to them each Christmas.

  46. I can’t wait to read A Moment of Christmas! 🙂 One of my favorite traditions is baking for the holidays! Also we have homemade pancakes with mini M&M’s on Christmas morning. It is the only we add mini M&M’s so everyone looks forward to it! 🙂

  47. Anna,

    I just heard a blog post about letting go of stuff this season. Seems more people are getting the idea that the holidays are about families & friends. It isn’t about doing all the activities which can be fun. This time of year is for celebrating with those we love. Thanksgiving is for thanking God for the bountiful harvest. Sharing that harvest is imperative. Christmas is really about the birth of Jesus. Not all the gifts, etc. It is time to take a break & sing Happy Birthday Jesus. Talk to your children about the true meaning of the holidays. For me I’m cutting back on sending out cards. I may send out Christmas letters to family & let them know what’s going on. Don’t feel like spending time or money to do that. Thanksgiving will be spent with my pastor & some other friends at a “friends giving” meal. Pot luck & we all get to take some food home. It is their way of thanking God for the house He provided. My decorations consist of a Charlie Brown Tree complete with ornaments & lights already on it. Just bring it up & plug it in. I believe simple is best. No big deal or rushing around to do everything, Time to spend with family & friends. I may start doing advent devotionals this year with hubby!

    Blessings 🙂

  48. My favorite Christmas tradition is one of the few my family always did growing up, and is something I still do with my husband (and anyone else I can convince to get in the car!) On Christmas Eve, we all got new Christmas jammies. We would put them on, make some popcorn and cocoa, grab some cookies and blankets, and snuggle in the car. We would play Christmas tunes and go see the elaborate lights in the deep quiet of the night.

  49. We still watch the Polar Express even though my kids are 23 & 25. I tape it so we can watch when they come home at Christmas.

  50. I love the Idea of keeping that ornament out all year & also that T-shirt I love it!! Time with family and friends is a major deal all year round for us but there is something extra special about traditions this time of the year. We have 4 boys- 2 of them are married and on their own. So sometimes it can be hard to schedule everyone’s time but we always seem to pull it off. Not to mention there are a few birthdays in between Thanksgiving & Christmas time.

  51. What a nice reminder to slow down even if I don’t. Lol it’s nice to know and be reminded. Thanks. When my kids were born I wanted to carry on the tradition that I loved as a child celebrating St. Nicholas Day. I loved putting up my stocking early in December. It was the start of the Christmas season for me and my siblings. I lovingly hand made and embroidered stockings for my children. How I loved filling the stockings with little toys, candy, favorite cookies and a orange. Even when money was hard to come by I never wanted my kids to be disappointed St Nicholas always came. I still fill the stockings now that my children are older. I sometimes think it’s more of a gift to myself and not for them. The tradition makes me happy I hope they will one day carry the tradition on to the next generation. A little handmade stocking and it’s memories can be a priceless blessing.

  52. I too have had to adjust what Christmas means in terms of traditions, as I look forward to retirement this year I am trying to determine what that means during this upcoming holiday season. While my daughters have left the nest, I have welcomed my sisters in laws families into our home these past years while my father in law was quite I’ll with dementia. He is in a better place this holiday season, however that means readjustment will occur this year and I am trying to be more thoughtful of what that will look like. Thanks for reminding us to give ourselves grace for what we do or don’t each season

  53. My favorite thing for Christmas is inviting my Church family to my home and knowing that I am not alone. What more could I ask for? The love of God and family.

  54. This devotion is so true and so encouraging. One of my favorite Advent traditions is lighting the Advent wreath on our table and reading a devotion after family dinners. We started this when our children were young. Now that they are teens, it is still something they enjoy, and it helps us all slow down and remember what’s important.

  55. Since I can remember, my family has celebrated Christmas by my brother and I each opening a box filled with useful necessities and one special gift from our parents on Christmas Eve night. This tradition has now been passed down to our own little families. It is one we hope to pass down to many generations.