For the last couple of weeks, I have struggled to write this post. See, I wanted to write about Christmas. Not only would it be a relevant topic, but I also have a lot to say about the holiday.
The problem is, every time I sat down to write something it came out wrong. Sure I grabbed just the right verses from scripture. And yes, I even wrote that it’s not about the presents under the tree. But every time I wrote what I thought was “right” it felt all wrong.
The reality is for us, Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Christ, but it’s also about so many family traditions and happy memories for us.
Christ Comes First
This year while setting up our tree we decided to make an event of it. A few years ago we purchased an artificial tree and haven’t dared to attempt a real one since.
And yes, I am aware I live in the Pine Tree State so the irony of a plastic tree in my living room every year is not lost on me.
Normally I set up this tree by myself. I dig it out and get the branches to look as normal as possible. It’s not an easy task, but not really that difficult either. This year though we happened to have a break in our schedule that allowed us all to be home on a Friday evening so hubby and I decided to make an evening out of it. We grabbed some pizza, watched Christmas movies, and set up the tree as a family.
We were having so much fun, laughing and goofing off together. But then my seven-year-old piped up. He was not impressed with our antics and quickly reminded us that what we were doing was, “for the Lord.” And he was serious. The tree was for Christmas, and Christmas was for Christ.
And he is correct.
Long Ago, In The City of David
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11)” Now I’m not going to proclaim to know which day exactly in history this day was, but I will say that day happened. In the City of David, Christ was born over 2,000 years ago. Today, from our home in Maine, we are celebrating that.
A child that was necessary to bridge the gap between man and God. The perfect sacrifice for our sins. The one prophesied throughout the Old Testament was here and the world needed to take notice.
And it did. Throughout His life, Jesus challenged the traditions of man and showed the limitations of the law. He came and experienced life. Every pain and sorrow we face today He can say He experienced because He left the glory and splendor of Heaven to come to earth and offer Himself as the perfect sacrifice for our sins (I John 2:2).
Now to me, that is something to be celebrated. Without the birth of Christ, we cannot have the sacrifice He gave. Without the prophecy of the Old Testament, the world would not have known who to look for. His birth was foretold, His life purposeful, and His death necessary for all mankind.
History, Tradition, and Commercialism
Today’s Christmas celebrations are a tad different than that night long ago when Jesus was born. Today we have a myriad of history and tradition culminating into an often overly commercialized celebration. There are some who partake in activities such as tree decorating, parties, and presents, while others choose not to. Some families load the house with presents and gifts, while others choose to go a smaller route.
Regardless of how you choose to celebrate, Christmas is the day set aside to remember this birth. To remember that Christ came to break us from the bonds of sin. He gave us liberty. We can choose to celebrate His birth in the manner we choose. We aren’t ordered to abstain from all Christmas decorations and presents, rather we are called to worship.
And I think this is where the meaning of Christmas gets lost. We are all too worried about how we are celebrating, rather than who. We sit on our chair of superiority and say that to say “Happy Holidays” is taking Christ out of Christmas, or that saying “Merry Christmas” is pushing our religion on others. But the reality is that Christmas is not the only holiday celebrated in December. And there are even unbelievers celebrating Christmas.
Yes, it is true that Christmas has become overly commercialized. Parents are pressured every year to get the newest and hottest toy. To offer their children an abundance of gifts under the tree. Lights and decorations must be perfect to enjoy the perfect Christmas.
But aren’t we just as guilty? Don’t we bow to the pressure of perfect decorations, presents galore, and a card worthy-holiday?
I know I have. I have insisted on buying more because it felt too small. I have rearranged ornaments that seemed misplaced. Somewhere along the line though, these things stopped being so important. Somewhere along the line, our family decided to keep more of Christ in our Christmas while also offering cheer, gifts, and memories to our children.
Keeping Christ in Our Christmas
Today, for our family, celebrating Christmas is about acknowledging the birth of Christ. It’s a glorious thing to take time out of our busy lives and stop and think about the one night that changed the whole world.
It’s also a time for family. We set up our tree and decorate together. Armed with homemade hot chocolate, hats for the kids, and a three-hour long playlist of Christmas music we set out to hang the lights and ornaments, many of which are handmade or gifts themselves. We remember the births of our own children while hanging their baby ornaments, and their lives as they have grown with the plethora of homemade ones they have made over the years. We celebrate the growth of our family with dated ornaments throughout the years.
Decorating ends every year with a family picture that is as comical as it is stressful. Lining everyone one up, getting everyone to smile, and hoping we capture an image that is both card-worthy and realistic.
The traditions don’t end there. There is the annual Christmas parties we attend and a girls night to see The Nutcracker. Every Christmas Eve we drive around town taking in the lights on various houses and once home the kids get to open their first gift – new pajamas.
Gift giving, of course, is also a part of our celebration. The focus of Christmas may not be gifts, but I do enjoy the process of purchasing a few items for each of my children that they will enjoy or need. A few years ago we adopted a 5-gift rule: two fun gifts, one needed item, one outfit, and one book. This has helped to take a lot of the stress out of buying “enough” but also keeps Christmas reasonable.
My older children are now at the age they enjoy not only giving gifts but purchasing their gifts with their own money. Their hearts are those of givers, and that makes this Momma proud. My seven-year-old this year picked out gifts to give as well to many that he loves and cares for. They are learning and showing hearts that understand giving.
Keeping Christ In ChristmasRegardless of how you choose to celebrate, Christmas is about the birth of Christ. Click To Tweet
Regardless of how your family chooses to celebrate – whether you go over the top with gifts or keep things small, whether you choose a tree or not – Christmas is about the birth of Christ. The savior of the world. You can keep Christ in Christmas simply by allowing Him into your heart, by acknowledging and accepting His free gift of salvation for you.
You can aim to focus more on Him but making sure your family knows and understands the importance and significance of this one birth that happened two millenia ago. By simply living He changed the future for all mankind. To me, that is something worth stopping and celebrating. Something that is worth not only remembering but teaching to my children.
The world may try to pull you in a hundred and one directions this time of year. The world may try to make your celebration feel small or inadequate. One thing to remember though, presents are good but being in His presence is better.
How does your family keep Christ in Christmas? Comment below!