CHRIST-CENTERED CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS

I’m a woman who loves to celebrate a holiday. I won’t even begin to confess how many Christmas trees there are in my home. (Ten, but who’s counting?)  But in the midst of all the tinsel and lights, I want to make certain that I focus my heart and my children on the real meaning of the season. As Christmas becomes ever more commercialized, it is imperative that we hold fast to the true meaning and keep Christ and His message at the center. Here are a few traditions my family has cultivated to help keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and our hearts free from materialism.

1. Prayer

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  Phil. 4:6

Beginning the Christmas season with an attitude of prayer and thanksgiving is vital. Gratitude is key to combating the lure of the self-centered materialism that hounds us. One way to foster gratitude is to specifically pray and thank God for our friends and family. I found that one of the hardest things for me to do was to get rid of all the beautiful Christmas cards that my friends and family sent me. Instead of discarding them every year, I created a prayer box filled with Christmas cards.

During meal times each person picks one card and prays for that particular family.   As we read the Christmas cards, it is fun to see how each family has grown and reminds us of all the special people God has placed in our lives.  It gives perspective on what is most important and is one way to focus on others. Whether you are single or have a huge family, the tradition of praying is one we can all practice.

2. Times of Reflection

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  Luke 2:11

Another way to focus on Christ is to create an advent wreath, which intentionally builds anticipation for the Savior’s birth.  The word “advent” means arrival and celebrates the coming of Jesus as the promised Messiah King. This tradition began with early Christians who wanted to prepare their hearts in worship for the arrival of the Christ child.  An Advent wreath symbolizes the passage of the four weeks prior to Christmas. I create my own centerpiece with candles and greenery and light the first candle on the first Sunday of Advent.  As a family, we read scripture or an Advent devotional as we light each candle.  Traditionally, you wait and light the final candle on Christmas Eve and read the entire Christmas story from Luke 2:1-20. This tradition of reflecting on the weeks leading up to Christmas helps to create a month of reflecting on Christ and anticipating His birth.

 3. Heart of Giving

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others. Phil. 2:3-4

If we are to withstand the lure of consumerism, we must choose to intentionally focus on giving rather than receiving. I know this sounds counter-cultural … because it is. There are so many opportunities during the Christmas season to show generosity.

As a family, we give our children a certain dollar amount to give to a charity of their choice. My daughter has a heart for the homeless and uses hers to assemble bags with hygiene items, water, and snack bars. My son, Joshua, loves World Vision and puts his money towards providing animals for a family in need.  My eldest son, Aidan, performed a magic show last year for a local boys’ home and used his money to buy cards for each child in the home. There are numerous ways to give resources or time to your community. Using this time as an opportunity to focus on others is an amazing giving tradition that can be passed on from generation to generation.

 4. Delight in Jesus

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  Luke 2:10-11


“Oh Come Let Us Adore Him!” These are not mere lines from a familiar Christmas carol, this is the purpose of this season. Friends, let us treasure, worship, and delight in Jesus.  One tradition our family practices is to read great books that tell the Christmas story in different ways. We love to see the message of Jesus come alive to our kids in fresh ways. There is nothing better than sitting in front of the Christmas tree, snuggled up with my family, drinking hot chocolate, and reading one of these treasured stories:

In the Manger by Max Lucado

The Nativity Story by Angela Hunt

On This Holy Night published by Thomas Nelson

5. Celebrate the Birth of Jesus

And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.   Luke 1:14

Since Christmas is the celebration of Jesus’ birth, our family loves to make a birthday cake for Jesus. In addition to eating tamales on Christmas Eve and watching Elf as we decorate the tree, we always throw Jesus a birthday party.   Everyone loves a party and this is a perfect tradition for families with younger children. This party can be as extravagant as you would like. Or simply make a cake, blow out candles, and celebrate Christ’s birth.

There are so many traditions you and your family can participate in during the Christmas Season. No matter what traditions you choose it is worth being intentional about keeping your focus on Christ and all that He has done for us. It is a precious time to slow down and keep our hearts centered on Christ and His birth. May your Christmas Season be filled with precious memories and unforgettable traditions!!

Michelle

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