How can you keep Christ in Christmas and lead your family to do the same? Each December, many Christian parents ask this question as their good intentions are crowded with secular sights, sounds, and busyness of the season.
We asked some of our Intersect contributors what practices and rhythms they participated in to keep Christ in Christmas. We published some of their responses last week. Here are some of more of their responses. We pray they encourage you and your family this Christmas!
Related Resource: Southeastern Advent
Three Gifts at Christmas
By Scott Hildreth
One tradition that our family has maintained through the years, including many moves and stages of life, has been to give our kids three gifts (now this doesn’t include gifts from family members, grandparents, etc.). This tradition has allowed us to keep the Christmas story central to our celebrations and, to some degree, keep the materialism in check.
Each year we remind our kids of the story of the birth of Christ and the visit of the Magi. Jesus got three gifts and we have talked with them about these gifts and that they shouldn’t expect more. Through the years they have tried to fudge (Dad, if I get a PlayStation and games, is that one gift or three), but this tradition has allowed us to make sure that our kids remember Jesus at Christmas. It has also given us, as parents, an check to not over buy fall into the materialistic traps that culture sets.
The Greatest Gift of All
By Benjamin Quinn
On Christmas Eve, we gather our kids and tell the story of God from Creation to just before Jesus’ birth. We stress how God’s people waited centuries for the promised One to come. Certainly some doubted He would ever come, and certainly some questioned God’s promise. et, the Scriptures are filled with the sense of anticipation that God has not forsaken His people, and the Savior is on the way.
We send our kids to bed on Christmas eve with the anticipation of Christ. When they awake, we finish the story announcing that God the Father kept His promise, the Savior has come! Down the chimney with toys and candy? No. Way better! He came as a baby, born in a manger offering life and hope and joy to the world! The greatest gift ever given, and the greatest story ever told!
5 Intentional Christmas Steps
By David W. Jones
With five kids in the Jones family, we’ve always been very intentional about taking steps to keep Christ in Christmas. Here are some of the most effective things we’ve done over the years in our family:
1. We try to complete all of our Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving. This allows the parents not to get stressed about the commercial aspects of Christmas.
2. We make a point to attend all of the Christmas events at our church, as well as events in other local churches. We’ve found that just keeping our family around the people of God at Christmas is a tremendous blessing.
3. We read Jesus’ birth narrative from Luke 2:1–38 on Christmas morning as a family. Doing this before we open gifts helps us keep the focus on God’s Gift to us.
4. We have a red velvet cake for dessert after Christmas dinner to remind us of Jesus’ birth and death. When our kids were little this helped them to understand that Christmas is about celebrating Christ’s birth.
5. We have a family project that involves helping others. This could be assembling a shoe box for Samaritan’s Purse, secretly buying gifts for a family in need, and the like.
By doing each of the above activities every year, we’ve found it easier to exalt Jesus’ during the Christmas season and to rejoice together as a family.
Jesus Above All
By Liberty McArtor
From the time I could read aloud, Mom and Dad had me read Luke 2 before digging into my presents on Christmas morning. But my favorite version of this tradition happened on Christmas night, when my grandfather did the same thing. Before the chaotic exchange of dozens of gifts between extended family members, “Paw Paw” would turn his worn Bible to Luke 2 and read of Jesus’ birth. Then, with the whole family gathered in one cozy place and my grandmother by his side, he would implore us to place Jesus above all else in the coming year. His words carried weight thanks to the faithfulness of my grandparents’ own examples.
This year will be different. My grandmother, whom we call Nan, is no longer with us; she lost a brave fight to cancer over the summer. The entire extended family is unlikely to gather due to the pandemic, and Paw Paw will need to prioritize his own health. But reflecting on our Savior before sharing presents is a tradition I’ll continue — at home with my son, and in any smaller gatherings the family is able to enjoy. And I pray that, like my Nan and Paw Paw, we will keep Christ first even after the presents are unwrapped.
By Aaron Earls
Every Christmas morning since our children have been alive, we read the story of Jesus’ birth as our very first thing on Christmas morning. Some years I do it, some years one of our kids do it, but they know we don’t open any presents until after we’ve read about that first Christmas. We want that to serve as the framework by which everything else is understood.
Another thing we’ve done may be a bit more controversial. We’ve kept the practice of Santa Claus, but we’ve made intentional tweaks in how we talk about him, which I’ve written about before. Santa doesn’t bring presents based on whether one is “naughty or nice” but out of love and as a reflection of Jesus’ gift of salvation. Our hope is that by discussing gifts offered in love despite our mistakes that we can continue to soften our children’s heart toward the gospel.