I have a confession to make. I downloaded a Christmas CD to my iPhone…in October! Ok, yes! I do it every October.
One of my favorite things is a pumpkin, but add some white twinkle lights and a few Christmas songs with it, and I am completely giddy with happiness! I count down the days until the first batch of homemade hot chocolate is made, and the Hallmark Christmas movies get recorded on DVR. The Christmas bedding is on all of the beds, the white candles are in the windows, but don’t worry I have refrained from hanging all of the wreaths just yet. However, by the time this is posted, I can’t promise that to be true.
Years ago I found myself sitting on the floor Christmas Eve exhausted, yet still facing a night of wrapping, and it hit me—I missed the reason for all of it. If I missed it that meant my children had too. You know how it goes! December days are some of the busiest and most hectic for all kinds of reasons. By the time we come to the end of it, we realize we planned and hosted a month long party but missed the guest of honor! The following year I determined that Jesus would be greatly celebrated and not the season.
While our family has the traditional “traditions,” we also have a lot of traditions that are intended to shape our hearts and minds for the world. I guess you could call them “kingdom traditions.” We are intentional to provide many opportunities for our family to celebrate the birth of our Savior well. In doing so, our eyes and hearts are fixed on the true meaning of it all.
Here are a few ideas:
- Choose a verse as the theme for your family celebration. Memorize it, talk about it, and live it. John 1:14 is ours this year:
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
- Place a small tree in the center of your dining table. Throughout the week have your family write down a praise or example of how they saw Jesus at work, then hang it on the tree. Our youngest named it “The Praise Jesus Tree.” Catchy, don’t you think? 🙂
- Christmas devotion time together is essential. This takes a lot of effort and discipline to make happen during the busy month of December. It isn’t going to be every night, but it is most nights. Here are a few of my favorites:
At Missional Motherhood our goal is to help one another “raise them up to send them out.” To achieve that, we need to look for ways to help our kids take their eyes off of themselves and their wants and see the needs of people all around the world. This isn’t something we do only at Christmas, but especially at Christmas when the presents will abound! That’s why I love this next one!
- Beth Gorden‘s Christmas Around the World — Together you learn about Christmas in 24 different countries, create an ornament craft for each country and most importantly, you pray for the needs of the people.
- A number of years ago, our family began volunteering with Salvation Army by ringing the bell. It became a fun family service project, although I can’t say that the kids have loved it as much as I have. (Maybe this year it won’t be 32 degrees!)
- Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) is a fantastic ministry. Every day 6,200 children die from hunger related illness. Through this ministry, a child can be fed one meal for 22 cents. The website has a fundraising section with tools for your family to use so that together you can raise money to feed children around the world. We have purchased coin boxes and placed one on our kitchen table and given several out to family members. We will collect the boxes the week before Christmas. Check out their site for ways to support the ministry, and maybe even buy a few Christmas gifts from their store.
- Also, make a mental note for next Halloween as well. FMSC sells tubes of M&M’s for just $2. We purchased one for every child on our street and encouraged them to eat the candy then fill the tubes with quarters to return to FMSC. Each tube feeds 63 children.
- Gospel for Asia provides a Christmas gift catalogue with items you can purchase to help families meet their needs. Our daughter seems to love giving bunny rabbits while we all dream of providing four wells for drinking water. It’s on our bucket list!
- The Angel Tree is our most exciting tradition! The Angel Tree’s goal is “to reach children of prisoners who hope for a Christmas filled with joy.” Instead of sending money, we go to the mall and choose a child’s name from a tree. The afternoon is spent shopping and dreaming of what Christmas morning will look like for that little one.
There are many ways you can serve your community as well. Participate in Toys for Tots. Go to your local homeless shelter and serve a few meals. Find a ministry that packs bagged lunches for the homeless in your community. Visit nursing homes and retirement communities with friends and sing carols. Pick a neighbor who could really use a dinner to lighten her load or one who would brighten up to find flowers on her porch. Just be intentional together! Let your kids pick one or two or more ideas and go for it!
It’s been a decade since Christmas became an intentional mission to shape our children’s hearts for more of Him and less of this world. This year our soon to be 13 year old is convinced this will be the worst Christmas and birthday “EVER” because he doesn’t want anything. Our 10 year old stated, “We just had Christmas, and I am content.” (That’s the same child who pitched a fit when he was 4 years old on Christmas morning because he got something he “didn’t ask for!” Oh the embarrassment!) I’m not exactly sure what it is. Maybe it’s a fluke. I know they don’t have “everything.” In fact, they have far less than their peers. Could it be that their eyes have been opened for so long to the needs of others that their hearts don’t have a lot of room for more of this world? One can hope. After all, only Jesus satisfies.
Every day is a mission. Why not use the Christmas season to prepare the little hearts in your home for years of Kingdom purpose?
*Please leave your comments below! How does your family celebrate the true meaning of Christmas? What are your favorite traditions this time of year? Please feel free to share below!
**Another great idea for family devotions during the Christmas season is a Jesse Tree. Read more here: Teaching Your Children His Story with the Jesse Tree.