I love celebrating Christmas! I have been so busy preparing for it, and carrying out our yearly traditions, I haven’t even taken the time to blog about it!
I know and believe with all my heart that we should celebrate Christ’s birth all throughout the year. We should treasure Him in every day life – always. His birth, life, death, and resurrection should be in our thoughts daily as we worship him – not just at Christmas and Easter.
However, there is still something that feels so special about this time of year. All of the memories of past Christmas celebrations come to mind. Listening to Christmas carols delights my heart, and at times brings tears to my eyes. Talking with my children about the Advent of Christ each morning in December around the breakfast table brings unimaginable joy! These are just some of the tradtions that make this time of year feel different and special. If your desire is to make Christ your treasure this time of year – and always, it can be such an intentional, focused time to think of and celebrate Christ’s birth. I love these words from Noel Piper out of her book Treasuring God in Our Traditions:
“He’d heard it once too often, somebody pontificating, ‘Every day should be Mother’s Day’, or ‘Every day should be as significant as Christmas.’ God knows we need ‘especially’ – that was a new thought to me back then. And it’s true. God himself appointed special days, such as Passover, for His people and gave them ceremonies to set those days off from the others (Exodus 12:1-20). December 25, for example, could pass like any other day in our week, except for the thought and preparation we give to it and the customs and traditions that surround it. The ceremony of a special day keeps it from slipping away like an ordinary day…..
……..The way we observe these occasions – the focus of our observation – has great potential to show our children what we think is most important and to help them value what we hold most dear.” Noel Piper
When my husband and I were first married, we didn’t have many traditions to start with. We had a few things that we had done in our own families as children, and wanted to incorporate into our “new” family. Not many of these were centered on Christ – and if they were, it certainly wasn’t because we had intentionally planned it that way! We lavished gifts on each other (since we didn’t have children to lavish them upon ;). ) We decorated a tree in our apartment, hung stockings and listened to Christmas music. I made Christmas cookies and candy – a tradition carried over by my mom, grandma, and great-grandma ( and I am sure even further than that!). Then we would go around to our friends/family for about 4 different Christmas celebrations.
Each year our Christmas traditions grow. Now that we have 2 children (ages 4 & 2) new traditions are added little by little. We go to a wonderful Christ-centered church. The people in this body of believers have taught us so much about how to treasure Christ through out the year and in our holiday celebrations. I am so thankful to God for allowing us to be a part of this amazing church body for the past 5 1/2 years. Each year I learn of new ways to help direct our family’s attention to Christ throughout everyday life, and during the holidays. I enjoy adding things little by little and tucking away new Christ-centered ideas for next year.
I want to share our list of Christmas traditions in our home this year. I would LOVE to hear from you too! Please share your traditions either in the comment section, or blog about it on your blog, and leave me a link to it in my comments so I can read about them!
- After Thanksgiving we put up our Christmas tree and other Christmas decorations while listening to Christmas music on the radio. This year the kids were able to do most of it on their own…we had to help with the garland, high ornaments, and of course, daddy put the star on top. After looking at the star, our 4 year old said, “Mommy, that is a star just like the one that showed the wise men where baby Jesus was!” I said, “you are exactly right, and that is why we have a star on our tree – to remind us of the one that led the wise men to Jesus!” Putting up our tree in and of itself, is such a great Christ-centered conversation starter!
- We began Advent on the 1st of December by doing short Advent Devotionals with the children at breakfast every morning. Last year I bought a little Advent devotional book online from cbd.com, and that is what I use for the morning devotionals. It is such a great start to our day, and really helps to daily turn the childrens’ attention to Christ during the Christmas season, when there attention can so easily be pulled in the wrong direction. We also do some activities to go along with what we read for our devotion that morning.
- On each Sunday evening beginning the first Sunday in December, we use our Advent wreath and candles and have a family Advent worship time. Each week we light a candle (lighting an extra one each week), and read from the Bible about the Advent of Christ. Week 1: we read verses about the Prophecies of Jesus birth; week 2: we read verses about the Shepherds; week 3: verses about the Angels; week 4: verses about the wise men; and then on Christmas morning we read the story of Christ’s birth ( and light the Christ candle with all the other candles.)
- We of course go shopping for Christmas presents for friends and family, trying along the way to instill what Jesus taught, that it is better to give than to receive.
- This year Trevor(4) has been awed by the Salvation Army bell ringers, wanting to know who those people are, and why are they stading there ringing that bell? So, we have had the opportunity to use Matthew 25:35-40 and explain to him what Jesus taught, “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'” (Mat. 25:40), and explain what the money that is put in the red bucket is used for. So, everytime we see one, he wants to put some money in. One weekend when we were shopping he even wanted to give his whole weeks allowance (50 cents)!
- I randomly bring out a “special” Christmas story book that I have tucked away in my closet, reserved for special reading times. Some of the stories we have been reading this year are, A Candle in the Window, The Tale of the Three Trees, Jacob’s Gift, Merry Christmas With Love, and The Legend of the Candy Cane.
- We take a night or two and drive around neighborhoods to look at Christmas lights.
- We make photo Christmas cards, to send friends/family updated photos of the kids, or our family, and usually write a Christmas letter with it, but I didn’t do that this year. We also put a verse on our cards, and when we write a letter, we tell friends and family about what the Lord has been doind in our lives the past year, and really try to keep the letter centered on Him. This can really be a great witnessing avenue to unbelieving family and friends!
- We take the kids to celebrate at their grandparents and/or great grandparents houses.
- I cut out and decorate Christmas sugar cookies with the kids using a recipe passed down from my great-grandmother. We try to pick out shapes that can remind us of Christ’s birth: star, cross (the reason he was sent to this earth), and talk about what these things remind us of as we decorate.
- The kids love to open all of the Christmas cards with me as they come in the mail. Trevor’s favorite are the one’s “from the Bible,” as he likes to call them!
- We go through the kids toys and pull out a lot they have either out-grown or don’t play with anymore, and we donate them to Mission Arlington, or some other good organization that accepts gently used toys for children in need! This is yet another great way to put the focus on giving to others, and off of self, and in so doing, honoring Christ!
- This year and last, I let Trevor make gifts for Family/Friends/Teachers. This year we bout a stain glass cross ornament kit, and he hand painted little cross ornaments for the special people in his life. I also took both kids to Michaels one day and they participated in the toddler craft time, and each painted a little box that they each gave to a grandma.
- This year an idea given to us by our church: we are bringing some homemade cookies/candy to our neighbors along with a For Your Joy booklet, by Desiring God ministries, and a DVD about Christ’s birth by Grant Good and David Jeremiah, to share with our neighbors the love of Christ, and the true reason Christ was sent to this earth as a baby.
- On Christmas morning this year I am going to make a breakfast cake, using the recipe I got out of Noel Piper’s book, Treasuring God in Our Traditions.
- Then we will begin letting the children open their gifts. Since Trevor was 1 year old, we have been giving him/them “Wise Men Gifts,” or what it is formally called, “Begging For Myrrh.” If you read that article, that is pretty much exactly what we do. We begin by reading the Christmas story from Luke 2. Then we present each child with a gift of “gold, ” “frankincense,” and “myrrh.” Before handing them each gift we explain the meaning behind each one (for the meanings please click on the ‘begging for myrrh’ link above). Their gold gift is something they really wanted, their ‘big’ present. The myrrh gift is bath items like bubble bath, body wash, shompoo, bath toys, lip gloss, etc. The frankincense gift represents meeting with God, so this gift can be worship music, devotional materials, etc. I love having this tradition in our family. It is so much fun, and I think, just a perfect way to keep the focus on Christ on Christmas morning, rather than good ol’ Santa Clause!
- Jared and I stopped giving each other Christmas gifts on Christmas morning about 3 years ago. Something we do instead is we pick a non-profit organization, or a mission giving opportunity, or some financial need, and give what we would have spent on each other for Christmas toward that. One thing we haven’t done in the past, that I would like to do this year is write on a letter about what/who we gave to and put it on the Christmas tree. Then on Christmas morning after the presents have been opened we will read this to the children and teach the about giving and putting our focus on Christ and not self.
- We are also going to make a Birthday Cake for Jesus on Christmas day which is something we have never done before. Trevor thinks the idea of that is really silly, so we will see what he thinks when we actually do it!
- One thing I have known of for a while but have never done is a Jesse Tree. This is something I think I will incorporate in our Traditions next year.
I know there are so many good ideas out there. What are the Christ-centered Traditions in your home for Christmas time? Please share, I would love to read about them!
May you and your family have a very Merry Christmas, and may Christ be your Treasure above all else!