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. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” -Luke 2:10-12
I love traditions. And one of my favorites is collecting nativity sets. Well, it's something my husband enjoys, and that makes me happy. Now, he doesn't like your typical Hobby Lobby dollar section nativity scene! Our sets are usually from special people or were purchased on unique occasions. The oldest was given to me the day I was born and is from my mom and dad. Our newest is from a jeweler whose daughter was on our True Girl tour team. The Mexican nativity set was purchased during my cousin’s honeymoon. I have a bit of a problem as Christmas approaches this year. Baby Jesus is literally missing from one of my favorite sets. I don’t know where He’s gotten to and I’ve been searching frantically! Looking at our world today, I can’t help but think of that missing baby Jesus from my nativity scene. The holiday meant to celebrate the birth of our Savior has been taken, twisted, and turned into something all about us. In fact, a Pew Research Center study revealed this alarming stat:
Only 55% of Americans view Christmas as a religious event instead of simply a cultural holiday.
Is Jesus missing? Now, I’m not saying that our events, gift exchanges, and other secular traditions are necessarily bad. I love going to our local tree farm and picking out the perfect Tannenbaum as much as the next girl! But when December 25th rolls around, we’re often so obsessed with what’s under that tree that we forget Jesus. It might be a sign that our priorities are a little off course. Let’s get back on track! This year, our traditions may look different because of the pandemic. We may not be able to gather the whole family together or go caroling around the neighborhood. But that may be a blessing in disguise. It could help us slow down and teach our daughters the real reason we celebrate Christmas. Here are 3 ways to integrate Christ into your Christmas celebrations.
1.) Observe the Advent by being in God's Word
Set aside time each day leading up to Christmas to spend time in God’s Word, dive deeper into the Christmas story, and prepare your hearts as a family. If you’re not sure where to start, you might enjoy this 31 Day Advent Devotional by my friend Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. It's the one I'm reading this year. These readings will lead you to contemplate the loveliness and essence of Christmas. Let this book be your companion as you spend the days surrounding Christmas the way these men, women, and angels did, your gaze fixed on our great God and Savior.
2.) Revolutionize your Christmas Gift habits
Charlie Brown complained about the commercialization of Christmas way back in 1965, and while most of us likely agree, our wallets sure don’t show it! According to a post-Christmas survey in 2019, the average American spent over $900 on Christmas gifts, while 21.5% percent of respondents stated that they went into debt over Christmas. This year, take some time as a family to re-evaluate your Christmas spending and instill an attitude of gratitude in your daughter. Here are some ways to do that:
- In keeping with the three gifts the wise men brought Jesus, give each family member three gifts.
- Exchange names and have each family member provide a gift for just one person.
- Ask your children to write a wish list for what they want to give and to whom.
- Get the gifts out of the way on New Year's Eve and spending Christmas morning with each other and Jesus!
3.) Start a new Christ-centered tradition with your family
Begin by talking with your daughter about your current traditions. What are your favorite family traditions? How did they start? What significance do they hold for your family? Then, this year, create a new tradition that helps you focus on the reason we celebrate Christmas! Here are a few ideas:
- Host a drive-by nativity for your neighborhood.
- Read the Christmas story from Luke Chapter 1 aloud on Christmas Eve.
- Christmas carol at a nursing home.
- Shop for a family in need and share the love of Christ in a practical way.
Whatever you do, slow down. Integrate Jesus into everything you do. He is, after all, the reason for the season.
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