I truly desire to be intentional about teaching our children the true meaning of Christmas, and revisiting it every year in familiar and new ways. As a believer in Jesus Christ, this time of year is incredibly significant to my faith, and the faith of our family. The history, the amazing gift of God in his Son delivered to us in the tiniest of human form cannot be missed. Yet, each year the task of bringing this holy remembrance into our home becomes more difficult. The messages of materialism speak so loudly and come from every angle, while the busy-ness of the season distracts the five of us from being still and truly contemplating the gift of the baby in the manger. I can always look forward to a still, holy moment on Christmas Eve at our church’s service, but even that gets challenged while I sit in my seat, recovering from the blurred day of finding tights without holes, realizing dress shoes from last year don’t fit our growing kids, last minute gifts, and goals of a delicious steaming dinner ready for our family when we get home.
With the cookies, parties, shopping, decorating, thoughtful gifts, and all the other “expectations” of Christmas, we can often run out of time for what’s most important–remembering and celebrating the incredible gift and significance of the birth of Jesus. In an attempt to fight back at this blurred month that gets us off track of the true meaning of Christmas, I have found a few ways to be intentional with our family the last several years:
1. Start the season in the right frame of mind.
Each year we take the first weekend in December (this weekend!) to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. For many years our family would go to the mountains with other families and stay in a remote cabin, unplugged from the world. We would read the story of Christmas in the bible and an adult would give a short talk to the children about the story of Christmas. We would cook together, and do crafts when our children were young. The adults would share a glass of wine together over meals, we would all play games, go for a hike, or just sit and talk. We all took a deep breath and walked into the busiest, most commercial time of year on the right foot.
If a weekend away is not a reality, a day or an evening together to talk about Christ-mas together can be plenty. Unplug from everything, share thoughts and teach your children about giving over receiving, and about Jesus’s incredible gift to us.
2. Weave in Christian tradition throughout the season.
Side note: Don’t picture this time with three wide-eyed fully engaged kids smiling dreamily as their mom teaches them about Abraham! I actually had to create quizzes one year (my poor kids with their teacher-mom) to encourage engagement!
We also read The Advent Book together. Written by Jack and Kathy Stockman, this is the Story of Christmas, as told in the bible, with captivating illustrations and fun doors to open throughout the pages, and little Christmas animals to find. This is a favorite tradition for our family–even with our teenagers.
Serving over the holidays is one of the best ways to keep ourselves and our children grounded. One year we delivered Christmas gifts to a needy local family, another year we worked at the Operation Christmas Child distribution center. Every year we buy gifts for the Operation Christmas Child shoebox collection. Here are the women from our bible study and their families having a pizza and shoebox wrapping party at our house a few weeks ago:
Another idea would be to go on the World Vision website with your children and pick out some Christmas gifts to send to an impoverished family–like a cow for a village, or some chickens for a mother.
These are some of the ways to bring the true spirit of Christmas into your home. I am sure you could fill up pages of replies with the meaningful, special activities you do with your family–I would love it if you would share below!
The reality for me is that as our kids grow older it is becoming more difficult to herd the cats for quality time and activities. With jobs, cars, sports, homework, and busy social lives, we don’t have the nightly routines with all of us home like we used to. I am having to let go. I am trusting that the seeds we planted over the many years when they were younger will grow into a spirit of continued wonder and joy in the gift Jesus gave us through his birth. So don’t be discouraged if your children, whatever their age, aren’t as excited about about this effort as you are! Know that any and all attempts for balance and focus this season are worth it and will make a difference in their hearts.
I wish you a December filled with the things that you love about Christmas, and with a true focus on the reason for the season!