It is really important for my husband and I for our family to keep our hearts focused on Christ–throughout the year, but especially throughout the Christmas season. In our society of abundance and plenty, it’s so easy to be swept away by the current of commercialism. Like my pastor reminded us on Sunday while preaching about Daniel, it’s much easier to go with the flow of things. But we can’t do that. As Christians we have to fight against a society that turns this blessed day into a day about shopping and dollars and who can accumulate the most things.
Here are some of the things we do to keep our hearts centered on Jesus at this time.
We Don’t Do Santa
*Gasp* I know, this tends to be terribly shocking to most people. I wrote an entire post about this one, but it bears mentioning here because this is one of the biggest ways that we choose to keep the focus on Jesus–we don’t open the door for “competition.” In fact, we feel that there are a lot of aspects of the modern day commercialized “Santa” story that detract from the real meaning of Christmas, so we don’t participate in it. (You can read more about that here.)
There really is no season for this–we should do it all year round! However, this is a season during which this is especially important, and when we are especially tempted to get turned around. It’s tempting to focus on our own Christmas wish lists (or those of our own family), more than the wishes of others. It’s easy to focus on all the lights, decorations, and fancy packages more than the hearts and needs of those around us. For this reason, I think humbling ourselves to serve others is especially important during this time.
Check out my friend Sheila from Pennies of Time for some great ideas for serving with your little ones! Also, Not Consumed has some printables and ideas to help with your RAK’s this year.
And, my friend Heather from Cultivated Lives (www.heatherhaupt.com) has this great post about giving and serving at Christmas (even if it doesn’t come naturally to you).
Keep it Simple
Christmas is a simple affair for us. We make a conscious effort to focus on that baby in a manger more than we focus on gifts. We also don’t do hundreds of dollars worth of gifts. Last year, we had a blessed, happy Christmas, and we spent around $15-$20 on each child. We bought things on sale or clearance. We bought one larger item and a few smaller ones, including things they needed like toothpaste, etc. (Yes, toothpaste. My boys are still at that young, sweet age where even toothpaste is a fun gift for them! Love that!)
We don’t feel comfortable spending tons of money on gifts while other people are in such great need. It just doesn’t sit well on our hearts, so we do what God has led us to do in this area. And He convicts different people in different ways. Furthermore, it is more important for us to teach our boys contentment, than to provide them with a lot of fancy things.
Finally, it is amazing how much more enjoyable the Christmas season is when you take the pressure off to have the biggest, best, most decorated Christmas ever.
You can see our Advent and Christmas Countdown in this post. But basically we do a devotion and a candy countdown each day, along with our random acts of kindness. We use this tabletop advent calendar from Dayspring and we just love it! It’s short enough to be very manageable and stress-free, but still thought-provoking.
They have a newer one from their Redeeming Love line that looks great as well, and you can find it here. It’s $14.99, but will probably go on sale :)
The candy/box countdown we use is this one from Karen Foster that I decorated back in my scrapbooking days. Our boys love taking turns passing out the candy and treats. The boxes are kind of small, so we are limited in what we can put in here, but it’s fun to get creative.
You can also check out this great list of printable nativity activities for more ideas for little ones.
Books & Media
The first book we turn to is our Bible. We make the Christmas story a focus on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and other times during the holiday season. We try to make sure that everything points toward Him. Here are a few more of our favorite books that point to Christ during the Christmas season:
- Itsy Bitsy Christmas
- The Berenstain Bears Get Ready For Christmas (Living Lights Series)
- Christmas in the Manger
- The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving (Living Lights Series)
- One Wintry Night