Keeping my Family Focused on Christ this Christmas
The True Meaning
Before Thanksgiving my children start making their Christmas Lists. Every toy ad that arrives in the mail is quickly confiscated by them and each toy is circled as one they are adding to their lists. It is becoming a real challenge to keep Christ as the center of this commercialized holiday. I'm not saying you can't enjoy the Santa Claus traditions. We love to sing Frosty the Snow Man, and can list all the reindeer names. We, of course, leave cookies and milk for Santa. But I am making a real effort to ensure that, with all the fun, they are also understanding why we are celebrating.
I can't take credit for this idea, I stole it from a good friend. But I loved it so much I have instituted it in my home this year and hope it will become a family tradition. We always hang our stockings at Christmas time and my children know they will soon be filled with treats chosen especially for them.
Likewise, we have hung a stocking for Christ, and our goal is to fill this stocking with special acts of service done with Him in mind. I hung it by the door so we can see it as we are coming and going and be reminded to look for opportunities to serve those around us. I think this is always important, but especially during this time of year. Ideally, this will help us to be more patient, kind, and giving to members of our family, friends, and even people we don't know but have the opportunity to meet or brush shoulders with each day. Even a simple smile and kind word counts for this. Then each Monday night we will empty the stocking and read all the acts of service we have performed that week and get motivated to do more.
Fisher Price Nativity Play set
One of the easiest ways to bring Christ back into Christmas is to place him around the house. I collect nativity scenes and I have them all over the house. As we decorate, my 6 and 4 year old help me set up the manger scenes. It starts the season out right as we discuss each piece and retell the story of that miraculous night. It introduces Christmas as a celebration of Christ's birth.
I also have a nativity that is just for them to play with. They love to set up the pieces and use it to reenact the story together. Children learn best by hands on methods and with this they can see and touch and better learn and understand the story of Christ's birth. The best one I have found is by Fisher Price. They are a great size and very durable. My children really enjoy this set.
This one is a little harder because Rudolf and Frosty are much more lively and fun to sing then Silent Night as far as children are concerned. So when you are driving and they can't really get away, you should mix up your playlist with some fun songs and some more serious songs. My children recognize the warm feeling that comes with the religious songs. As they learn the words, they begin to sing with just as much gusto as Rockin Around the Christmas Tree. My six year old loves to sing the Alleluia chorus with all the enthusiasm and vibrato she can muster.
There are a lot of great CD's out there. This Christmas Carols cd is one of the few children cds that I can stand and even enjoy. Likewise, the Mormon Tabrinacle Choir CD is one of the few that my children love as much as I do. There are several songs on that one that they ask me to repeat over and over. So while we are driving looking at Christmas lights, or just running errands, we have music that we all agree on. How often does that happen?
A Story a Night
My children love to be read to and I am always surprised by how much the pick up from the stories we read. So each night we snuggle up on the couch and read a story that is usually Christmas themed and always has a great moral. I enjoy having them snuggled close and am amazed at how, during these times, there is very little arguing. We all calm down and focus. Then we chat for a few minutes about the story and what it meant. I take this opportunity to remind them about Christ's stocking and we put them to bed on that note. It is really a nice tradition.
There are a lot of books out there designed for this. Or you can chose individual children's books to read. I have friends that chose a variety of books and actually wrap them up. This adds a surprise factor to it. We keep it simple here. I have a notebook of stories I have put together, many coinside with a song and we sing that together too. In addition to being a nice tradition, it is also a fun part of our bedtime routine.
Christmas is a wonderful time of year and with a little effort we can make it more meaningful for our families. These traditions also help to create memories and bring us together during this busy time of year. I love this time of year because I get to watch my children learn about the miracle of Christ's birth and experience the joy of serving those around us as He did.