Dec 10, 2012

5 Ways To Keep Christ In Christmas

This year our Christmas is a bit unusual and a bit lacking in fun, family traditions. Not to say it will be any less of Christmas {Jesus is the reason for the season!}. We'll still read the Christmas story, have ham for dinner, and open gifts. But, the leading up to and the anticipation of the day has been overshadowed by our move. We'll have been in our new home for about a week before Christmas Day. So, with the craziness of moving out-of-state one week before Christmas, how do we go about keeping Christ as our focus this Christmas? Here are some ways I'm doing it and I hope they inspire you!

1. Encouraging a spirit of thankfulness.

No, I don't have my holidays confused. In truth, the very celebration of Christmas Day is our acknowledgement of and thankfulness for the gift of the King of Kings being sent down to earth to be with us. It is really all about thankfulness for who He is. Our family has been blessed with a new job that Casey is really excited about. This move with all it's temporary frustrations, is a huge blessing for our family. When I pray with the kids and I thank God for his blessings, I am encouraging a spirit of thankfulness through example. We also encourage common courtesy such as thanking people when they do things for us and being grateful for what we have instead of constantly wanting more.

2. Read Christmas stories together.

On Christmas morning before we open any gifts, Casey will read out loud the story of Jesus' birth straight from the Bible. Generally, he leads our family in family devotions but while he is gone, I am reading to our kids from a children's Bible and then we read one other story. Naturally, I am picking from our collection of Christmas books. Some books we own and are reading this season include: Who Is Coming To Our House?, What Is Christmas?, and The Christmas Story.

3. Decorate with Christ honoring decorations.

This year I put up minimal decorations because it was simply impractical due to our move {I'll try to get things back up when we get to our new home too!}. I like to think about the true meaning of Christmas when I do buy decorations so that I compile a collection that is mainly focused on Christ. We do have a few items with non-Biblical characters and I have a real affection for snowmen decorations. With that in mind, and since I was planning to put up less this year, I picked out items that had the most meaning/impact to display. I placed a plate that says Believe and has a picture of a baby in a manger on it. Our stockings may not be a Biblical inclusion but they are a fun tradition and are special because they are handmade by my mother!

4. Emphasis on giving rather than just receiving.

When the topic of the season comes up, too quickly the conversation turns toward gifts and what each child wants. I don't shun discussing what they would like for Christmas but I do try to redirect the conversations toward why we give presents {because Jesus is God's gift to humanity to exhibit His love and as a representation of gifts that the wisemen offered to the baby Jesus}. With a few dollars in hand, we will be planning a shopping trip to the local Dollar General to teach our three year old and four year old the fun and joy of purchasing gifts for others rather than themselves. This is really not about what the gifts are but rather an exercise in getting their minds working on thinking out getting gifts for others. We also believe this can be fostered year-round by cultivating an atmosphere of serving each other in our family and serving others as a family. Another big one is doing a charity gift such as Operation Christmas Child or the Angel Tree which are both great ministries that also can help teach the joy of giving to others. For younger children, a great way to involve them without taking them out shopping is to just let them assist with the wrapping process {if they can't keep a secret then just put items in boxes and let them help wrap the boxes} and they will feel like they contributed to that gift just the same!

5. Invest in a kid-friendly nativity.

A beautiful nativity scene may be a wonderful way to decorate for the Christmas season but it probably isn't something that is best handled by little ones. Investing in a durable nativity set that is meant to be played with and enjoyed by children may be a great way to learn about the Christmas story in your family. We own the Little People Christmas Story Nativity Scene Playset and we LOVE it! I highly recommend getting a nativity that the children can play with and enjoy because it will be so much more memorable than the one they aren't allowed to touch! It may even help bring the story to life for them!

How are you keeping Christ in Christmas this year? I'd love to hear your ideas!


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