Including Christ in Christmas is a no brainer… in theory. Each year as the holidays approach, I feel a tiny tugging in my thoughts. A tiny voice reminding me that I don’t want to forget to focus on Christ in the midst of the busyness. I want my kids to see in my actions that he is more important than the gifts, decorations and cookies.
I have been just as guilty as anyone about forgetting that Christ should be the center of Christmas. So I have my ears pricked for ways to make myself less, and him more, both for me and for my family. Here are four simple ways to make sure that Christ is not left out of your Christmas.
The minute Halloween looms in sight, stores are already leaping ahead to Christmas. Even before October 31 I see the Halloween decorations gathered slowly to one side, and the Christmas decorations out. So it seems a little counter intuitive (since I’m already overwhelmed that people are already preparing for Christmas) that I try to think even farther ahead.
All through the holidays I feel very introspective. Beginning at least by Thanksgiving I begin to pray that God would show me how my heart needs to change. This inspires me to begin praying through some New Year’s Resolutions.
Not things like I want to loose five pounds- heart changing things. Jesus came to die, and remembering him at Christmas reminds me of his sacrifice. This past year as I was praying over my own heart I decided to take a year to really study the gospels and how they connect to the Old Testament.
I spent the year reading the gospels and the first five books of the Bible, alternating between them. God gave me this quote for the year “The gospel is not the springboard we jump off of at the point of our salvation. It is the ocean we leap into.” Wade Yarbro.
This all came out of my continued prayer last Christmas about how God wanted me to focus on him. Keeping Christ at the center of Christmas starts in the heart. Make it your prayer that God will show your heart how it needs to change. Ask specifically that he would make Christ more important to you.
Keep things simple. Sounds easier than it really is doesn’t it? When the shiny things start coming out months in advance, its so easy to let Christmas materialism get out of hand. There’s always just one more cute gift, or one more amazing recipe or decoration. Ken and I have decided to simplify our gift giving to our children. To hold ourselves to the ‘simple’ plan, we have four categories. On Christmas morning our kids receive from us:
- Something they want
- Something they need
- Something to play with
- Something to read
They actually make their lists with these four categories in mind. I’ve noticed that they don’t have the super long lists that I had as a kid. Since they have in their mind that there will be four items, they list only a few things for each category that they really want. Whatever items we don’t get them, I pass on as ideas to family members, knowing that they will really cherish each item.
I love this, because they think through every item they write down. I want them to have the joy of gifts, but I want them to have no doubts about why our family celebrates Christmas.
We have always done stockings from ‘Santa’ whether they still pretend Santa or not. This way Santa has always been a very small part of our holiday. They are old enough to understand that Santa is just a fun game that we pretend, and the main gifts they receive at Christmas are from us. They can say thank you to us instead of Santa.
Let Christ have a part in everything you do for Christmas. When you drive around and look at Christmas lights, have everyone look for decorations that include Christ instead of Santa. When you decorate your tree, play Christmas songs that are about Christ. Point out the ornaments that remind you of God’s love. Make traditions that are solely Christ centered a part of your holidays.
- Attend your church’s candlelight service
- Find an advent calendar that has a scripture with each of the 25 days
- Read the Christmas story aloud as a family on Christmas Eve
- Invite someone to your Christmas dinner who has no one to eat with
- Memorize Isaiah 9:6-7 with your kids.
4. Be Intentional
We don’t live in a culture that automatically includes Christ. Every year when I helped with the children’s Christmas program at church, there were kids who came on Wednesday night that had never heard “Away in a Manger” or “Joy to the World.” It takes intentional planning to make your Christmas about Christ. Sit down and make a list of things that you want to make sure you include in your Christmas season this year. Include dates and specific plans.
I would love to hear ways that your family includes Christ centered traditions in your holiday season! leave a comment below an tell me about what you do!