I’m sure that expressions like “the reason for the season” and “keeping Christ in Christmas” have become cliché, but I would challenge us to live these out this Christmas. Cliché or not, they are Biblical and should be the heart of Christians, not only at Christmastime, but throughout the year.
You see, what is meant to be a time of year that we ponder and celebrate the birth of our Savior, can very quickly become a season of stress, overscheduling, and overspending.
While I am not anti-spending, gift-giving, or Christmas-partying, I do think that the gift of Jesus should be at the heart of the ways that we celebrate.
“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” ~Colossians 3:17 (NKJV)
I’d like to share 7 Tips for Keeping Christ in Christmas:
1. Nativity – While Christmas decorations can be endless, the most important thing we set up each year is our Nativity. Make sure your children help as it is a wonderful teaching opportunity. Consider allowing your children to choose (or make) their own. Involving them in this process helps them to keep the perspective of this precious time of the year. Here is one example of how to make a nativity from clothespins.
2. Advent wreath – I didn’t grow up celebrating Advent, but the word simply means “coming”. Celebrating with an Advent wreath not only gives you a beautiful centerpiece, but a wonderful way to focus on Scripture and, ultimately, the return of our King. You can read about how do that here.
3. Jesse Tree – And again, Isaiah says: “There shall be a root of Jesse; and He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, in Him the Gentiles shall hope.” ~Romans 15:12 (NKJV) (see also Isaiah 11:1 and Isaiah 11:10)
We don’t set up a Christmas tree anymore. (Our cat won’t let us!) Once I learned about a Jesse tree, however, I haven’t missed the traditional tree in our home. I learned about the Jesse tree when we attended a service at a local church a few years ago. You can read about that here.
My favorite Christmas book, The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp is an absolute treasure! Her book centers around the Jesse Tree and is the perfect way to keep my heart and thoughts focused on “the full love story of Christmas”.
Christmas has been so over-commercialized that those who struggle financially feel their lack the greatest at Christmastime. The inability to celebrate with food, decorations, gifts, and parties is more obvious in December than at any other time of year.
Out of our abundance, let us resolve to give generously this year.
One of our favorite ways to do this is the Advent Conspiracy. You can read my post on how our family does that here.
Another wonderful way, not only to give, but to teach our children how to think of others is by participating in Operation Christmas Child. Each year, my children head into the dollar store, grab a plastic shoe box, and walk around the store filling it with toys, treats, and anything else their heart desires. This has been an excellent experience for them to consider children around the world who literally have nothing. You can read more about this wonderful charity here.
Both of these charities do take some time and thought, which to me is an important reason for participating in them. If, however, you find yourself unable to participate due to a lack of time, please prayerfully consider supporting these charities (or others) financially.
Let us remember that charities serve people and people have needs all year round, not just at Christmas. Let us resolve to give generously this Christmas and for all of 2015!
5. Community – Christmas is a wonderful time to reach out to our communities!
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” ~Mark 10:45 (NKJV)
You know that neighbor you’ve never met? How about baking them a plate of fudge and delivering it to their door with a card and well wishes for a Merry Christmas?
And that retirement home you drive by on your way to work each day? Maybe you and a group of friends could visit one evening with plates of cookies and sing a few Christmas carols. (Our local retirement home likes for us to come at the end of meal time as all of the residents are in one place).
Donate food to a local food bank. Call a local shelter and ask about donating gifts. Participate in an Angel Tree. Buy a gift certificate to a grocery store for a family you know is struggling to put food on the table. Pay a utility bill to help keep a family warm this winter.
We are celebrating the most incredible gift the world has ever known. Out of our gratitude, let us bless others as abundantly as we can!
6. Homemade Christmas – If your budget doesn’t allow for gifts, parties, decorations, and special Christmas treats, resolve to celebrate a homemade Christmas.
Our favorite thing to do as a family is to make each other gift certificates. My kids make each other “coupons” that say things like: “I will do your chores for you for a day”. I give my kids gift certificates for a day off from school. (We homeschool). My husband usually gets one for a homemade dessert of his choice. We can be creative and have fun without spending any money.
Make homemade Christmas decorations, ornaments, cookies, gifts, wrapping paper, and cards. The focus can be on spending time together as a family. Remember that we are creating memories that last a lifetime.
7. Books and Movies – We do own most of these as we have collected them over the years, but you can also check your local library to see if you may borrow them for free. This is a small sampling of our favorites:
• Louie Giglio’s – The Twelve Words of Christmas (my all-time favorite Christmas DVD!)
• The Nativity Story (We watch this movie as a family every year)
• Veggie Tales: The Ultimate Christmas Collection (A wonderful collection for young kids)
• The Greatest Gift – Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas by Ann Voskamp (my all-time favorite Christmas book!)
• Immanuel – Praying the Names of God through the Christmas Season by Ann Spangler (LOVE this one, too!)
• O Holy Night (I read this with the kids every year) This covers the Christmas story from Isaiah to Luke, contains Christmas carols, poetry, and beautiful art work as well as “anecdotes about life in the Holy Land during Jesus’s time.” Our family treasures this book.
There are countless other ways to keep the season focused on the true reason we celebrate. This is just a small sampling to get you started on thinking about how you can continue or begin your own family traditions.
What special ways does your family keep Christ at the center of Christmas?
Shared at The Art of Homemaking Mondays, Heather Faria, The SDG Gathering, Teach Me Tuesday, UNITE, Wonderful Wednesday, Good Morning Mondays, & I Choose Joy!