Wow, thinking about this seems to hold a lot of weight for me. When I was younger, I would often think about what life would be like as an adult. Envisioning what my family would look like, how many kids I would have, and especially around the holidays… dreaming of how Christmas would feel and be celebrated with my own children.
Christmas (like for most) is my favorite time of year. As a married couple I enjoyed having my own home to decorate, parties to attend, and plans to make. It was fun and exciting to establish our own way of doing things. When we found out we were expecting our first child, the holidays were upon us quickly with a 6 month old, and we didn’t change things much.
However, after the first round of holidays with him, Adam and I talked about traditions and the importance to us to make Christmas about so much more than gift-giving. It’s a hard balance (especially for Adam because one of his love languages is gift-giving) to think of not being only focused on shopping, wrapping, exchanging material objects, and good eating. There is, in fact, a very powerful significance of what is supposed to be celebrated.
There is a family we know that only exchanges three gifts with their children because they tie it into the three gifts that were brought to Christ the night He was born. And not only is the number significant, but the uses of the gifts are too. They are not frivolous or over the top, their uses can metaphorically symbolize the same functions that the gold, frankincense, and myrrh signified for Jesus and His family. WOW! What an ambitious goal! I think to instill this tradition, it would be important to establish as early as possible. Let’s face it, we all love being showered with presents, despite our efforts to mask it. But I love this example for an alternative to just giving all the things to our kids/family because to me it takes the gratitude, love, and fortune of gift giving during this time and turns it all back to Christ. He isn’t the reason for the season, HE IS THE REASON ALWAYS, PERIOD!
Action Step 1
What ways can you use typical Christmas traditions to point back to Christ (i.e. gift giving or Santa Claus incorporation)?
Christ was born so that we could live. His birth led to our birth. Celebrating Jesus’ life is the entire purpose for Christmas. While Santa is fun, he isn’t the hero of this story, Christ is. Now, I’m not here to poo-poo Santa, I grew up with “Santa” visiting my house, and the magic was palpable, my parents always made Christmas an incredible memory each and every year. I’m just here to encourage myself and you to take a moment to be intentional about the ratio to which we “celebrate” Santa to Jesus. Christmas can still be super special and full of wonderful moments that our families can cherish forever.
I know some couples who setup Santa as a “helper” to spread joy and cheer during the holiday season. Others completely leave Santa out of the equation. I think whatever you are comfortable with doing is the right choice for your family. Adam and I haven’t really concretely decided how we are going to manage this part of Christmas since our babes are so tiny and truly don’t know what’s actually going on, but we do know Santa isn’t going to play a huge role in our celebration. He may come and fill the stockings, but the other gifts that are provided are there because God has provided for us. We also plan to be more intentional about the types of gifts our children receive. It isn’t going to be a “what do you want for Christmas and all your desires come true”, or trying to measure what we gift our children compared to what others are gifting to theirs. We plan to beat to our own drum on this part, and I think we will find that balance as our children grow and understand more.
Action Step 2
How can you make Jesus the center of celebration, and point the attention back to him?
We know that part of God’s character (a MAJOR part) is forgiveness. There are no scores being kept. So there isn’t a naughty or nice list folks. We are all part of God’s list, the only list I wanna be on. God loves us regardless. We are not rewarded based on our actions. While it is our job to teach our children right from wrong, and what are good manners…we should make it clear that Christ loves us regardless. This is why Jesus was born and then died for our sake. Christmas isn’t about if we’ve been good or bad for the year. It’s important to give our children the gift of unconditional love, and to help them understand that’s the perfect gift we received from God. He doesn’t only provide for us if we’ve completed certain tasks or made Him happy with our actions. We do not have a works based Fatherly love.
Action Step 3
Help your family understand the love that Christ has for us.
One way to make this a more prominent focus is to start the Advent season (begins the fourth Sunday preceding Christmas day thru Christmas Eve) with a study specific to learning the story and celebrating the birth of Jesus. She Reads Truth, is an amazing resource for the entire family to grab a study for the season. An easy way to incorporate Advent into the Christmas season, is to have daily Bible readings at dinner that pertain to the story of Jesus’ birth. Many people light candles and hang a wreath to symbolize the life of Christ coming to the world.
To add to the celebration, incorporate standing traditions of books to be read together or movies to watch that all instill the spirit of God’s provision and love. (i.e. Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, Lori Walburg’s The Legend of the Candy Cane, or Director Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life).
A quote from Sally Clarkson’s Life Giving Home, stood out to me when I first read it and really catapulted my desire to create a certain kind of home, and especially during the holidays given these are times that childhood memories stick around because of their significance.
“The way the home goes will determine the way culture is shaped: in faith, morals, spiritual strength, and foundations for life.”
In a nutshell, home life matters people! Give your children the best gift, which is to grasp a full picture of the purpose in celebrating the most wonderful time of the year!
Please share below traditions, ideas, and actions we can use to make our Christmas season meaningful, grounded, and loving!
Need help handling the overwhelm that can creep in during the holidays? READ THIS!
If you haven’t already, check out the gift guide I put together for the women in your life >> HERE