Original post appeared on www.mannaformoms.com
I still vividly remember a moment one Christmas season when I was in college. Finals were over, and I had returned home for Christmas break. My mom, my sister, and I had gone to the mall to do some Christmas shopping.
We separated from each other so that each of us could do some shopping without the others seeing. We agreed to meet at the fountain at a certain time.
I arrived at the fountain early. As I sat there, waiting for my family and watching shoppers go by, I realized something.
Christmas didn’t feel as exciting as it used to when I was younger. The glow, the emotional high, just wasn’t the same as all those years when I had looked forward to Christmas morning with the anticipation of a child.
It was fun, but…it wasn’t the same.
In that moment of disappointment, a thought came into my head with startling clarity: If that’s all there is to Christmas for me, I’m in trouble.
I want Christmas to mean far more than the anticipation of what I’m going to get, what parties I’m going to attend, or (now that I’m a mom) what looks I hope to see on my children’s faces when they open their gifts from me.
I want Christmas to be about Jesus, not about me.
There’s nothing wrong with looking forward to gifts, or with Christmas music, or parties, or the excitement of this time of year. All those things are good, and should be enjoyed.
But there’s more to Christmas than that.
I’m going to share with you five ways I’ve thought of to help my children remember Jesus this Christmas season and all the seasons following. So that when they look back on their Christmases in my home, they will remember not only the wonderful, heart-warming things like putting up the Christmas decorations together (we call it “putting up Christmas”) and doing Advent activities that I’ve developed for us, but also that we really celebrated Jesus and made Him our focal point of it all.
I hope some of them will work for your family, too.
- Make sure you remember Him—and let your children see and hear you do so. Let them hear you talking about Jesus, not just about finding a parking spot at the mall or your frustrations about having to host Christmas dinner again this year.
- Ask your children to think through some of the trappings of Christmas—music, parties, presents, etc. Let them answer the question, What would Jesus think of that? You might also ask them to consider why we give each other presents when it’s not our birthday.
- Discuss with your children what your family can do to make sure others know that even though Jesus wasn’t welcome at the inn, He’s welcome at your house (hint: there’s no one right answer). Then try to put some of those things into practice.
- Do some Advent activities that point to Jesus. Make sheep (we make ours out of plastic bags, crumpled up newspaper or wrapping paper, tape, paper towel or toilet paper rolls, a paper plate, and a marker), and then go “abide in the fields by night” (we go to our front yard). Talk about what the shepherds might have been feeling. Talk about what the angel said. Ask your children how they think the shepherds felt (and why they felt that way!) upon hearing the news. Or give each child a piece of paper with pictures of various Christmas-related items on it (candy cane, wreath, star). Make sure there is a picture of baby Jesus in the manger. Ask your children to go on a “Mall Treasure Hunt” and cross the pictures off their paper when they find the items. Point out how easy it is to find everything except baby Jesus. Have a good discussion about whybaby Jesus isn’t at the mall. Or think of other activities that would be meaningful to your family.
- Discuss, as a family, who the people were who were near and dear to Jesus’ heart (widows, orphans, the poor, etc.). Talk about Matthew 25:40 (“Whatever you do for the least of these, you do for Me”). Choose a way to minister to at least one of those people. Or, along similar lines, ask your kids what they think Jesus would like for His birthday. Point out that one present He would like would be for your family to bless others. Talk about how your children (even the youngest) can minister to others. Have each child choose a person to minister to. This can be something as simple as making a card for someone, giving a hug to someone who is lonely, or even showing kindness to a brother or sister. Or it can be something more complicated—whatever works for your family.
Whatever you choose to do, do it in the name of Jesus and for His pleasure. Your children will probably not remember every gift you got them this Christmas. But they will remember the memories you made as you loved, served, and celebrated Jesus together.
That’s what Christmas is all about.
That’s Who Christmas is all about.
Luke 2:12— And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. (KJV)