This time of year can be magical, when celebrating Christ’s birth, enjoying family time, and nurturing family traditions elevates our hearts and experiences, and when love and giving out of a grateful heart for the greatest gift that was given, become the focus of our thoughts and activities.
But, for all too many of us, this season of love and fellowship quickly becomes the busiest, most stressful, and expensive time of the year. And the most important to-do we can accomplish — passing on a legacy of making Christ the reason for Christmas — is pushed aside by too-full schedules and busy mall parking lots.
While the nativity should be at the heart of the season, so often Christ’s birth is overshadowed and the result is a generation of children who think more of Santa than they do of the baby in the manger, more of gifts than giving, and more of spending than of the light that shone on a people walking in darkness. The good news is, all is not lost. There’s still time, even in mid-December and no matter how old your children are, to reshape how your family celebrates Christmas.
4 Ways to Keep Christ in Christmas
1. Celebrate Advent. Advent means “the arrival” and we celebrate advent leading up to Christmas Day because Jesus, the promised Messiah, finally arrived! Tracing the ways that God’s people longed for the Messiah through the Old and New Testament is a perfect way to make the season about Christ. There are many ways to include the Bible in your Christmas celebrating, from setting aside a specific time daily to read the Christmas story, to simply reading about Christ’s birth on Christmas Eve. Creating a family advent wreath and reading the promises of God that point to Jesus within the Old Testament, finishing with his birth, provides a wonderful foundation for the season. Whether you choose to read verses daily or just on Christmas Eve, the key is to tell the story of Jesus’ birth in a way that shines light on the purpose of the season.
2. Set the Scene. When we hold something in our hands it becomes instantly more real. And that’s why nativity scenes are so wonderful, they are a visual and tactile reminder of the true reason for Christmas. Giving the nativity scene a physical space in your home makes the story more concrete and raises the level of importance. If you don’t have a nativity scene, make one! A simple Google search turns up hundreds of fun, easy-to-make nativity scenes that you can make together. Take this one that uses cardboard tubes with cute and colorful faces, or another done entirely in felt! Set up nativity scenes in your home and allow your children to play with them.
3. Joy to the World! Singing is a wonderful way to communicate the true meaning of the holidays. Set aside time each day to sing a Christ-centered Christmas carol and talk about the lyrics and its meaning. Older children can research that author and share the history behind the song with the family. Then listen to several versions online to bring the hymn to life. Christmas hymns are rich with history and meaning, pointing to Christ’s coming and leading our hearts to celebrate.
4. Give More. Christ is the greatest gift the world has ever known; God become man to save us and bring peace. Share this wonderful gift by giving to others in His name this season. From Christmas cards wishing peace on earth to cookies for neighbors to gifts under the tree Christmas morning, making giving center stage provides many opportunities to talk about the gift of Christ and the legacy of service He left for His people to carry on after Him.
Christ is the light that shines out of the darkness, and it’s important your children understand the real history behind the Christmas celebration so it’s traditions and moral lessons can be woven into your holiday routine.
With a few simple ideas, and with a heart full of love and fellowship, any parent can take their child’s attention off presents, candy, and flashing lights to focus on the birth of Our Lord and the love that he had for each and every one of us.