It's the most wonderful time of the year. But why? I love this season as winter creeps in with bare trees and flurries fall from the sky. I love the lights everywhere. I love the festivities. I love the cookies and tree cutting and smell of peppermint.
And, this is why it can be so easy to forget what we are celebrating.
This is why we can so easily leave Jesus out of Christmas. Let's be honest. Most of the world does not care that Jesus was born, that He lived, and died, and rose from the dead. Some might even acknowledge Him during this season, but He isn't celebrated.
When I think about our home, I continually ask: "Is our home saturated with Jesus and the gospel or do we just have a sticker on our car that says 'Jesus is the reason for the season'?" What am I actually doing to saturate our home with the story of Jesus? This is a great question I should be asking all year long but particularly at Christmas when we can be overwhelmed with the "other" things at Christmas, good things that often pull us to leave Jesus out.
Each day as we leave our home, everything is fighting against us focusing on Jesus: public school, shopping, Santa is everywhere, and so many other good things are vying for our attention. In our season with elementary kids, we have to be so intentional to overshadow the secular version of Christmas. Just yesterday one of my girls came home and asked,"How is Santa not real if one of the girls in my class saw him and his sleigh?" She went on to say that she didn't tell the girl is was made up, but my curious one still has questions. If all she hears about at school is Santa and reindeer and elves, how do we make our home a place where Jesus reigns during this season?
I am still learning how to do this. We still watch movies about Santa Clause in our home and we still have snowmen around. But, I am working to create moments where all of that is set aside and Jesus is what we talk about. Here is a glimpse of what we do:
1. We have our Jesus Storybook Bible Advent reading--as our kids grow, we may shift to something else, but I love how it uses the entire story of the Bible to point to the coming King Jesus! This year we are trying to read at breakfast--to start our day talking about the story of Jesus. I don't want the day to get busy and it get pushed aside.
2. Nativities fill our spaces. I want more and more to add to our home. Right now we have many throughout our decorations and two our kids can play with. They end up telling the story of Jesus to each other more than I could ever tell them in conversation!
3. Our home is quiet and simple. Our schedule is light. We have very few obligations over the next few weeks. We try to make time to just be at home, to sit by the tree and read and play and truly enjoy the season. When we are not bogged down with so much doing, we can focus on Jesus.
4. We are intentional about focusing outward. I love giving to my kids! And, I do on a regular basis. So, at Christmas, why not focus on others...all over the world! Near and far, we like to give. I want my kids to grow up in a home where serving and giving is what we do. I want them to be excited to give. I want them to learn to give to those who can never give back to us. This season gives us many opportunities to give.
5. We have conversation after conversation about the whys of how we choose to spend our moments. This is squeezed in at number five, but may be the most important thing we do. We don't dismiss conversations or topics. We tackle the difficult things in our home. This isn't always what I want to do but what I must do. And, Christmas gives us more opportunities to talk about what following Jesus looks like. Maybe our Christmas isn't as magical. But, I hope the sacred and safe spaces in our home create opportunities for my family to truly experience the goodness and grace of God.
6. We rarely talk about gifts we are receiving. Our kids don't make lists of what they want (except for Ryker every time we are in a toy store). We pay attention throughout the year and determine their three or four gifts. They are mostly determined and bought or accounted for by other family members before December. I am not bogged down with shopping or overwhelmed.
7. I have to remember that I set the tone in our home. When I am at peace, our home is peaceful. When I am content, my family is content. When I don't get sucked into wanting more and feeling like what we do isn't enough, my family follows suit. For me, I must spend time with Jesus to remain this way. Every day. Then our home becomes a safe place for us all to move closer to Jesus.
For our family, doing these things doesn't just give us the opportunity to move closer to Jesus, but it gives us space to invite others to join us. Even those who aren't interested in celebrating Jesus are still singing Joy to the World. Maybe just maybe they realize the need for Jesus and they simply need someone to share Him in real and tangible ways. And, when we give generously and spend moments with the story of Jesus, our family is positioned well to pay attention to others and their faith journeys. My hope is that the most magical Christmas memories for my kids are full of stories of others who found Jesus, who found hope.
There are so many things we can do to bring Jesus to the forefront at Christmas. I am always looking for fresh ways to tell the story of Jesus in my home. What are you doing?
Click on Christmas in the categories to the right for more thoughts on an intentional Christmas.