With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it is easy to forget the reason we celebrate Christmas in the first place. Our never-ending “to-do” list continues to grow as stress increases over finding the perfect gift for that special someone. We become frantic wondering if there is enough money in the budget to create the perfect Christmas morning for our families. And we often find ourselves waking up New Year’s Day wondering where the time went and why we didn’t enjoy the holidays as much as we had hoped.
As Christmas approaches this year, our family is making a conscious effort to not only limit the amount of stress in our lives but to be very intentional about keeping Christ at the forefront of our celebrations. Today I want to share with you 9 ways to celebrate the Christ in Christmas. Many of these suggestions we are including in our own holiday festivities as a way to teach our young children the true meaning of Christmas from the start. These suggestions can be easily altered and adapted to fit many family dynamics and can be used with children of any age.
Read Your Bible
This may seem like a no-brainer, but I will be honest with you. There have been times Christmas passed and we never once opened our Bible to read the actual account of Christ’s birth. Nothing brings to light the reason we celebrate Christmas like the Word of God. You can find the Biblical account in Matthew (chapters 1 and 2) and Luke (chapters 1 and 2.)
Advent is the time leading up to Christmas Day where we anticipate the celebrating of Christ’s birth. Many people celebrate this period with advent calenders, activities, and Scripture reading. This year our family is using Focus on the Family’s Journey to the Manger. It is a free resource with printable material and a parent’s guide to help you along. While Advent has already begun, you still have time to jump in with us!
Watch a Movie
There is no shortage of Christmas movies during the holiday season. You can turn to almost any channel on the television and find a Christmas movie marathon of one kind or another. What is slightly more difficult to find however, are movies related to the retelling of Christ’s birth. The Nativity Story, The Nativity, and The Star of Bethlehem are three easy-to-find movies about Christ’s birth.
Visit a Live Nativity
Taking it a step further, rather than watch the nativity story on the television, why not visit a live one? Where we live, we have the privilege of being able to see two or three well-done live reenactments of the story of the birth of Christ. From marketplaces to beggars and singing angels, live animals, and a stand in Baby Jesus, live nativities bring this very real story to life right in front of your eyes. It is an especially neat experience for younger children to visualize the events surrounding Christ’s birth as real, actual events. If you have the opportunity to see a live nativity, take advantage of it!
Operation Christmas Child
Another way to keep Christ in Christmas is by reaching out to those in need. Operation Christmas Child is a great way to get the entire family involved in sharing the love of Christ during the holidays. By packing up a small shoe box, you will not only meet some very real, tangible needs, you’ll also be sharing the Gospel with those who need a Savior.
The Gift of Goats
Along the lines of Operation Christmas Child, Samaritan’s Purse has an agriculture program as well where you can sponsor livestock to those in need. The gift of a chicken will not only produce eggs for retail and consumption, the chickens can then be used as a source of food. Cows, goats, chickens, and other animals can go a long way in creating a livelihood for families in need. Through programs like these, Samaritan’s Purse is able to share the Gospel with families who have not heard of saving grace through Jesus Christ.
Read a Book
Walk in to any bookstore or library and you’re likely to find a hundred Christmas books. While many of these books are about Santa and the gifts that come on Christmas Day, there are also some beautifully written books about the birth of Christ. Get your hands on a few Christ-centered Christmas books and read them to your children as a way to focus on the reason we celebrate the season.
Discover the Origins
With Christmas comes fairly common things like the candy cane, a star or angel tree topper, giving gifts, and even singing Christmas carols. While many families celebrate Christmas with lighted trees and gifts, I wonder how many truly know the reasons behind these traditions. If you have family traditions that take place each year, take a closer look at them. What is so special about the candy cane? Where did it come from? What does it symbolize? How about that tree? Is that star on top of any significance? It is important to know what we do and why we do it. Discovering the origins of family traditions can be a great tool to deepen our understanding of the events surrounding Christ’s birth and help keep us focused on the reason we have to celebrate in the first place.
Throw a Party
Last, but certainly not least, a great way to keep the focus on Christ this Christmas season is by simply throwing Him a party! My children look forward to hanging up our Happy Birthday banner, making a cake, and singing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus on Christmas Day. It may seem silly at first, but this truly is a treasured time for our family. Instead of worrying about how many or how great your own gifts are, consider giving to someone else in the name of Jesus as a way to honor Him on His birthday. Find a family to adopt this year, volunteer time at a local food bank, visit a local retirement home with homemade cards, thank your local police and fire departments with cookies, or simply choose one thing in your life you want to give over to the Lord this year. Don’t forget first and foremost, this is Jesus’ Day. Celebrate Him!
What other ways can you think of to help keep Christ the center of your Christmas celebrations this year?