I love the holidays and I think it is such a special time to be together as a family, create good memories, and enjoy one another. But Christmas is so much more then that. This is a strategic time to teach our children about the gift of Christ and to re-focus our family in worship to our king. It is easy to forget the soft, quiet miracle that took place in a stable more then two thousand years ago when we are surrounded by a culture that wants to drown out this message with the noise of temporal things. I want to encourage you to enter this month with an intentional plan to help focus yourself and your family on the glory that we see in the birth of Christ.
I have found it helpful to spend the last few days of November/ the beginning of December to plan our our calendar and think about why and what we are doing. I want to spend as much time with my children as possible this month and help this season be something they look back on differently then their friends who are not being raised in a Christian home. Here are just a few things I try to do each year…I’d love to hear some of your traditions. 🙂
1) I do as much of my shopping as possible for people the week after Christmas. We wrap all our presents and pack them away for next Christmas. The sales are great and this keeps me from getting sucked into the commercial madness the following year. I take all the gifts we packed away out thanksgiving weekend and write down the few remaining people I want (not have) to get presents for and buy them that weekend. After thanksgiving weekend I refuse to enter a store unless absolute necessity (like groceries). If I still want to get presents for people then we order them on Amazon or make them. I talk incessantly throughout the holidays with my children about the media, stores, and toy manufacturers agenda to make us feel like we need something and I tell them that I avoid stores because of my own temptation to get lured into the lie. Honestly, I have even prayed out-loud with my children a few times before going into the grocery store that the Lord would guard our eyes and hearts and keep us from coveting or desiring things that are temporary and passing away.
2) I love having people over around the holidays, but I try to remind myself that this is not something I have to do and if I find myself putting too much pressure on myself or the kids, I try to make that my indicator not to have as many people over the following week. If I get stressed about dishes, I use paper plates the next time. All I have to do this month is glorify God and enjoy him…and help my family do the same, the rest is all extra.
3) We do extra weekly family devotions…we use special Christmas coffee mugs and drink hot coco, eat cookies, and read Christmas devotions. One we do a daily devotion called “Countdown to the King”…we all love it J
4) Christmas morning before we open presents we eat a special breakfast and do devotions, then we do a “scavenger hunt” for baby Jesus (we keep him out of one of our mangers all December and I hide him somewhere around the house Christmas morning. At each part of the scavenger hunt we read part of the Christmas story from Luke.)
A successful holiday season for me is one where I wasn’t constantly frustrated with my kids (by the grace of God), planned extra time into our schedule so I wasn’t rushing or hurrying our family, didn’t spend too much money, created good memories, and helped my family enjoy worshiping God. I fail in this in many ways each year, but by God’s grace, each holiday is better then the last at achieving these goals. J
Merry Christmas! May it be full of peace and joy as you reflect on the beautiful miracle that is Jesus the Christ-God becoming man!