Each Christmas, we strive to focus on the birth of Jesus, and all that entails. Peace, Joy, gratitude for our Salvation, remembering the poor and needy that Jesus also came to save. At the same time, we all want to get swept away a little in the fun of gift-giving, baking yummy holiday treats and making our homes over into a winter wonderland.
Sometimes it’s hard to strike a balance – to remind ourselves (and our kids) that the season of Advent is about preparing ourselves for the joy of Jesus birth. I thought I’d share with you how my family did (and does) celebrate this season – I hope that you’ll leave comments about how your family keeps “Christ” in Christmas!
- Growing up, my family opened the little doors of our Advent Calendars each day leading up to Christmas. And in case you’re wondering, Advent simply means: The arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. Who’s more notable than Jesus?!
- We brought out the manger scene and put it up without the baby Jesus, so that we would remember that we awaited His coming. (We added Him to the scene on Christmas Morning!) We’d also keep it up through Epiphany (January 6), when we’d add the Wise Men to the set.
- We went through our toy boxes and pulled out rarely played-with toys to give to charity, remembering that it wasn’t just about me-me-me. Now that I have children, we do this every year too – talking while we work about how much a little boy will love this truck or that Transformer. Shopping for Angel Trees or filling boxes for Operation Christmas Child is another great way to instill generosity in your children and yourself.
- We also kept a small Advent Wreath on our kitchen table, and each night at supper, we lit one or more candles (depending on how near Christmas we were). The ever-increasing brightness symbolizes the approaching nearness of Jesus.
- Our youth group and girl scout troop spent time Christmas Caroling from door to door – and in nursing homes or hospitals – to bring the Joy of Christ’s birth to the homebound, sick, or elderly.
- We set aside a special time to read the Christmas Story – a bit of it each night in the few days leading up to Christmas.
- We went to church on Christmas Eve – which was always so beautiful! O Come O Come Emmanuel remains my favorite “Christmas” song to this day, it always gives me goosebumps as I remember the thrilling anticipation of Christmas Day, while I stood next to my parents amidst a candlelit service.
- On Christmas morning, as my brother and I nearly danced out of our skin waiting to see what was under the tree, mom always insisted that we sing Happy Birthday to Jesus before we moved from the hallway! As a teenager, I’ll admit I thought it was silly – but it certainly did force me to stop and remember exactly WHO this day was for
All families celebrate differently and have different special traditions – I would LOVE to hear the traditions you share with your family!