In a sea of Santas, reindeer, and toy catalogs, I have found it to be a struggle to relate the true meaning of Christmas to my kids. Don’t get me wrong, we celebrate Christmas with presents, lights, and an occassional “Ho, ho, ho.” However, as I dim the lights on my Christmas tree, have I instilled meaning into our Christmas celebration? A few years ago, in an effort to remember my Savior, I created a list of ideas to keep Christ in Christmas. I hope you can find a few gems to add to your Christmas celebration.
•Put a kid-friendly nativity in your child’s room. Spend time role-playing the nativity scene with your child. Fisher Price makes a plastic nativity set for about $20. Remember that Jesus isn’t added to the scene until Christmas morning!
•Read the Christmas story in Luke 2:1-20 on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning.
•Put a wooden box, manger, or baby cradle under your Christmas tree. You put presents under your tree. Well, Jesus was the best gift of all, so we put a manger under our tree to remind us. The manger is empty until Christmas morning. Then, Christmas morning, baby Jesus makes his grand appearance. Variation: During the month of December, the family places a piece of straw in the manger every time they bless someone else. The idea is to make a comfy bed for Jesus to sleep in by blessing other people.
•Put a star on top of your Christmas tree- Say, “The wiseman saw the star and they knew that Jesus was here. Every time we look at our star, we are reminded that Jesus is here with us!”
•Candy cane- Show your child that the candy cane looks like a J. J stands for Jesus! As your child gets older you can explain the other aspects of the candy cane. Read the Legend of the Candy Cane.
•A letter from Santa- There are several places on the web that offer personalized letters from Santa. A few of the places have samples where Santa is reminding the child that Jesus’ birth is why we celebrate Christmas.
•Read Christmas books that point to Jesus.
-God gave us Christmas
-Legend of the Candy Cane
-Legend of the Christmas Tree
-What God Wants for Christmas
•Read aloud Christmas cards at dinner each night. Take a few minutes to pray for the senders. You might even send them a postcard telling them about your Christmas prayer for them!
•Read the book The Adventure of Christmas by Lisa Whelchel. It has several other great ideas for remembering Jesus at Christmastime. Also, it explains the Christian meaning behind several common Christmas traditions.
•Birthday Countdown – You can use a traditional advent calendar, a regular calendar, a paper chain, a jar with 25 peppermints, or any other method. Starting December 1, we begin the countdown. But, instead of a countdown to presents, it is a countdown to Jesus birthday. 10 days until Jesus’ birthday party……4 days until Jesus’ birthday party…. 1 day until Jesus’ birthday party……Why do we get presents on his birthday? That is just how much he loves us!
•Play dress up and reenact the birth of Jesus. Your costumes don’t have to be fancy!! Bathrobes, towels, and old sheets can be perfect!! Assign each family member a part. Then, just read Luke 2: 1-20 and perform. You are not going for a Broadway performance! But, you will make a lasting memory for your child!
•Each member of the family gets three gifts because Jesus received three gifts when he was born. Not only does this point to the true meaning of Christmas, but it helps save money!
•Videotape your child telling you the Christmas story in his or her own words. Every year, watch the previous years’ tapes.
•Have a birthday party for Jesus on Christmas morning! Before opening gifts, take time to remind your child the reason for the celebration. Show the child that Baby Jesus is in his manger under the tree. Then, eat birthday cake and sing Happy Birthday! (Also, you could make a frosted coffee cake or cinnamon rolls with birthday candles on it.) You could even have red and green balloons! After the party, tell your child, “Jesus loves you so much that we get to get presents on HIS birthday!!” Then open your gifts.
•Another idea: Have your child give baby Jesus a gift for his birthday. What kind of gift does Jesus want? “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your strength and love your neighbor as yourself.” Have him or her write on a piece of paper a specific way that he could love God or love others over the next year. Ex: Give his heart to Jesus, take flowers to an elderly neighbor, write a letter of encouragement to a sick friend, write a worship song to Jesus, give his allowance to help a needy person, etc. Have him write his gift on the paper. Put the paper in a little jewelry box. Put the jewelry box in a small gift bag. Have the child place the gift bag in the manger with Jesus.
•Tell them the meaning behind the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Check out this link: http://www.crivoice.org/cy12days.html
•Choose a non-profit that is meaningful to the gift recipient. Make a donation to that non-profit in that person’s name. The best way to thank Jesus for coming to earth for us is by loving those that he loves! What could your family do to show God’s love this Christmas? Visit a nursing home? Adopt a needy family? Host an open house with cookies for your neighbors?
“…..they will call him Immanuel which means God is with us.” Matthew 1:23
Here are some more Christmas traditions.