Two years ago, Christmas became even sweeter in our household. In a rare burst of enthusiasm I joined a group of mums in planning craft activities to observe the Advent with our kids. Over time, our holiday season had turned into a chaotic time where last minute work emails were answered and a mad rush to buy presents ensued. Therefore, the decision to slow down and savour the real meaning of Christmas turned out to be a priceless one for our family.
Remember the Reason we celebrate
Behind the bright lights, shiny gifts and festivities of Christmas is the precious story of Jesus’s birth found in Luke 2. I had a rude awakening when my children asked me, if Jesus Christ and Santa were one and the same. For this bible-believing, devotion-doing, praying mum, it was unthinkable that my children would ever confuse the two – but they did! And it was an opportunity to reflect on what we had emphasised as a family (presents and parties), and what we hadn’t (the birth of Christ). The year-end is actually a good time to hit the pause button on our regular routine and share the story of Jesus’s birth with our children. We now re-tell this story every Christmas, to remind ourselves as a family of why we celebrate.
Recognise our need for Christ
Observing the Advent with my children opened the door to them accepting Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour. On Day 5, we discovered a new story, in Acts 9, of Saul on the road to Damascus. My then 4-year old, demanded that I tell and re-tell it. And then the questions poured out of them with an urgency I hadn’t seen before. “Why did Saul hate Jesus so much?”, “What is sin?”, “Do we sin?” So we talked about our sinful nature and the ultimate price our Lord paid for us through His Son Jesus Christ. And that morning, the boys came to Christ. Our parenting journey continues to be challenging at times, but now we can confidently point our kids to God as the ultimate authority over their lives, and the one that we ought to obey and seek to please – and know that we are of one mind as a family.
Give rather than receive
For our families, reflecting on the birth of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross also shifts the focus away from merely passively receiving presents at Christmas time. This can be a valuable opportunity to talk about what sacrifice is, and how we ourselves can give sacrificially. As our children are young, we encourage them to give tangible gifts to others as a way to help them understand this idea. For family and friends, they include handwritten notes or handmade, rather than purchased, gifts. You can also encourage your kids to give their time to a cause or person in need. For some families, this can be a wonderful new family tradition.
Break out of your routine busyness this Christmas, and let this holiday season be a time for real action – reaching out to family, friends and neighbours with Christ’s love!
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