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How We Keep Christmas Focused On Christ

I believe in Jesus, and I want to celebrate Christmas. I want to remember the real reason He came to be born as a baby.

John 3:16-17 tells us, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into this world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him."

Jesus came to save us!

So how can we honor Him with our Christmas celebration?

Before I begin, I am not condemning anyone's way of celebrating, and my traditions are not perfect by any means. There are many beautiful ways to celebrate as a family. There is value in time-old traditions.

Here are 8 things we do in our household to focus on Jesus during this special holiday:

1. The Sparkle Box

We read The Sparkle Box by Jill Hardie together on the first day of December. Then, we set up our "Sparkle Box." Throughout the month of December, we give gifts to Jesus by loving others. When we do something for Jesus, we write it on a slip of paper and put it in the box. This is our Christmas gift to Him. This is the first gift we open on Christmas morning. The boys love taking turns reading the slips of paper when we give this gift to Jesus as we celebrate His birthday.

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’--Matthew 25:40

2. The Jesus Storybook Bible with Advent Pictures

Starting December 1, every night at bedtime, we read one section of The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones. This author has also created images for each day of the Advent season so we hang up a new picture each day as our countdown to Christmas. The book starts with Genesis and goes to Revelation. There are exactly 24 sections in it leading up to the birth of Jesus. After Christmas, we continue with the rest. The subtitle for the book is, "Every Story Whispers His Name." The author shows how each account in the Old Testament and New Testament points to Jesus. I have really loved reading this book. It is one of my favorites for sharing truth with my boys!

"There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them. It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story. And at the center of the Story, there is a baby. Every Story in the Bible whispers his name."--Sally Lloyd-Jones

3. Thanksgiving Wrap-Up

During the month of November, we practice gratitude with our "Thankful Chart" and "contentment quarters" (See previous post.) In December, I take each son to spend their quarters to express their appreciation to God. The more thankful we are, the more we are able to give to others. Sometimes, we are shopping for baby items to give to a local pregnancy centers. Sometimes, we are delivering a monetary donation to a charity or missionary. Sometimes, we are buying food or gloves for those who need them... While we are out, the boys each shop for their brothers for Christmas too. I love hearing them really consider what their brothers would like. They each take a lot of time trying to pick out the best gift they can find at the Dollar Tree or Five Below. We also do a special activity, just that son and me. It's something special like ice skating, Hoopla's ropes course, Reptiland, a movie, roller skating... God loves a generous heart, and thinking about others during this season is important to us. We also want to stay connected to each other in our family He created.

You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. --2 Corinthians 9:11

4. Christmas Devotional Before School in the Morning

We do morning devotionals during breakfast. In December, I use a variety of devotionals centered around the birth of Jesus.

Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.--Psalm 90:14

5. Three Gifts Per Child

We keep things simple. Each son gets three gifts from us. I've heard it said, "If three gifts were good enough for Jesus, that's good enough for us." But really, this simplifies our Christmas morning. It keeps the focus on Jesus, not on getting gifts. Because there are only three gifts, the boys take time to really appreciate each one. We take turns opening gifts so we can all see what they got and they can show their gratitude.

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.--Philippians 4:11-13

6. Live Nativity

We always go to the Live Nativity put on by Beavertown God's Missionary Church at Middlecreek Farms. This even is so well-done! You are fully immersed in the story. As you walk through each scene. in the big barn, you become a character in Bethlehem along with the actors. Not to mention, there are live animals you can pet (camels, peacocks, piglets, and more!), free cookies and cocoa at the end, and beautiful live music too! Each year focuses on a different element of Jesus' birth, told from different angles. It is wonderful! I've never seen anything like it! It always stirs my heart to consider the amazing story of the gospel! I leave with my heart full of thankfulness and joy at the coming of Christ for us!

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”--Luke 2:10-12

7. Birthday Celebration for Jesus

We start our Christmas morning with birthday cake for Jesus, a.k.a. Pillsbury cinnamon rolls. We light candles and sing "Happy Birthday." Then, we enjoy a delicious breakfast of cinnamon rolls, bacon, and grapefruit. (I'm not sure why grapefruit, but it's what my mom always did, and it's the one time a year that we eat it!) Our morning is so sweet and relaxed. There is no chaos, no greed, no rush to get to the gifts. I really love Christmas morning at our house! After breakfast, we open our Sparkle Box to Jesus.

For to us a child is born,

to us a son is given,

and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.--Isaiah 9:6

8. No Santa

Gasp! I know this is a big one. It helps that my parents also didn't do the whole Santa thing, so it's really all I've ever known.. It was easy for me to follow their lead, but I do love that we don't have Santa. I believe that it makes my kids more appreciative of the gifts they receive, less envious of others' gifts, and more focused on Jesus. For me, it's also a fine line between make-believe and deception. And I never feel tempted to threaten them with Santa when they are making poor choices, because really our sins offend our holy God. We are convicted and we repent of our sins, turning away from them and turning to God. It's not about being good enough to get a gift. We can never be good enough to get God's gifts of mercy, grace, and salvation. Gifts are not something we need to earn. They are freely given because we are loved. (If you have Santa and you love the whole thing, there is no judgment from me! I am sure there are ways to make it work. But if you are unsatisfied with it, just know it is possible to have Christmas without Santa.)

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:16-17

These are a few of the main traditions we've developed over the years during this special season of remembering the sacrifice Jesus made for us by coming to earth and dying on the cross for our sins. I am sure these traditions will change over the years. We might add more to them. We might remove some as the boys get older. But one thing I pray remains, that we focus on Jesus each Christmas!

Jesus came to save us! He loves us so much.

How do you stay focused on Christ in your Christmas traditions?

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