When Louise first asked me to write about our family traditions and mainly how we have tried to keep Christ the center of Christmas in our home over the years, I was a little stumped because a lot of how I feel we have done that is through conversations. I could name a list of treasured traditions that are carried out each year (heaven forbid I mention not doing one and at least one of my kids would revolt, even at their older ages). But really, they aren’t all that “Christ-centered”, just Christmas centered. So I went to the source-my kids. I asked each of them individually, “How have we tried as parents to keep Christ the focus of our home during the holidays?” And ALL of them had the same response in at least several ways.
One thing we have always done is before a single gift is opened on Christmas, we read the Christmas story from Luke together. We also have tried to help our kids understand that it’s never about the presents, how many, how big- but about THE Gift that God sent us in Jesus.
Each year for as long as I can remember, we have done boxes for Operation Christmas Child, and for the last 9 years, we have gone with our youth group to process boxes. That experience has truly opened our eyes to what the phrase, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” means.
Over the years, we did advent calendars when they were small, adopted needy families for the holidays, put dollars in the red buckets- lots of little things. I think a big part of keeping Christ the center starts in our hearts and with our attitudes during the holidays. Whether we are baking cookies, putting out reindeer food, packing a shoebox, watching a Christmas movie- it’s all about LOVE- The love that the Father lavished on us when he sent his Son to earth. And if we can reflect that love to those around us by being kind and patient and giving, especially during the holidays then that speaks volumes to our kids. Don’t misunderstand, I have definitely had holiday seasons of at least inward stress because I wanted things to be “perfect”, whatever that is. But I am learning more and more as my kids are growing and some are not living here anymore that the greatest gift I can give is a peaceful and loving heart focused on Christ and cherish the moments I have with those I love. God IS love- and I want to be a good reflection of that.
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