Christmastime can give any mom spiritual clutter.
All of the extra holiday to-dos and events—and the feeling of panic that hits us when we realize it’s already December [fill in the date]—can push the Christmas joy right out of our hearts. We hate to admit it, but even wonderful Christian moms like us need to be intentional about keeping our hearts centered on Christ at Christmas!
So this December, clear out some of that spiritual clutter. Plan and prepare ahead as much as possible. Skip “traditions” you don’t even like. Simplify where you can and just do less…but, I also want to challenge you to do more in order to keep the joy of our Savior front and center in your heart.
Wait, you’re thinking, she’s giving me more to do in December? Well, not really. At least not much. I want to help you make your Christmas traditions even more about Jesus without really changing them—and without a lot of extra work.
So here are some ways to take your Christmas traditions up a notch and draw your family closer to the Lord. I have ideas from A-Z! (OK, I know there are four C’s, and nothing between L and S, and the Z is a stretch… but it sounds more fun that way, and this is “Fun Stuff,” after all.)
Use at least one advent calendar that features Bible verses or nativity figures. Also, talk with your family about the different Sundays of advent after church each week. Even better—make or buy a family advent wreath and do advent devotions together.
If you make cut-out cookies, look for faith-related cookie cutters like a dove, a shepherd’s crook (a candy cane cutter will do), a sheep, a donkey, and nativity cookie cutters (although that will mean that someone will be eating Baby Jesus, which could be weird). Make up a plate for your local fireman or policemen, with a note of thanks for their service encouraging them to “taste and see that the Lord is good” a la Psalm 34:8. (Some chocolates scattered on the plate couldn’t hurt. Just saying.)
Choose a special holiday scent to be your “Jesus scent.” Whenever you smell it, take a moment to focus on Him and lift up your love of Him like a beautiful aroma. Challenge your kids to help you find your special Jesus scent while you’re out and about—and pray with you. Ask, like David, that your prayer be set before Him like incense (Psalm 141:2).
Send a few extra Christmas Cards in the name of Jesus. Call a local nursing home and ask for the names of five people who don’t have family or get a lot of mail. Or send one to a person with whom you have a broken relationship, with a sincere greeting of love and appreciation inside. (And never, ever write “X-mas” for “Christmas” on anything!)
At the end of a meal or before bed, hold hands with your loved ones and sing a beautiful carol (this sounds cheesy, but it can actually be lovely!). And anytime you hear a meaningful verse—at church, in the car, at the store—take the time to talk with your kids about what the words really mean.
Email your pastor(s) a quick note to let them know you’re praying for them as they prepare their Christmas Sermon—the one sermon of the year that the most unchurched people will hear. Then ask a friend or neighbor without a church home to go with you to your Christmas Eve or Christmas Day service. Offer to drive or arrange a place to meet so you can sit together. Then quiet your heart so you can soak in the service.
Give your nativity the best, most central spot in the house, then wait until after the kids are in bed on Christmas Eve to place Baby Jesus in the manger. Hang a spiritual ornament from the rear view mirror of your car, by your phone, on your computer monitor, and any other place you tend to get a little cranky or overwhelmed at Christmastime. You could also post a favorite Bible verse, the words to a lovely Christmas carol, or the different names for Jesus (Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, and so on) to make those stressful places peaceful instead.
Make your party a birthday party for Jesus, complete with a birthday cake. Show God’s love to your in-laws in a special way by celebrating one of their family’s traditions at your house. Make up a big plate of party leftovers for a lonely neighbor, or even better, ask them to join you. Or, call a local college and ask if there’s a student or two who can’t afford to go home for the holidays and might like to join you (if your local college has an International Friendships program, this is the perfect way to be a missionary in your own home!).
When you find that awesome deal that makes your day, buy double and donate. Be the customer that sales personnel appreciate, and then say, “Merry Christmas and God bless you” instead of the dreaded “Happy Holidays” with which most of them are forced to greet you. Make one of your many stops a church—it doesn’t have to be yours—and spend some time alone with Jesus in a beautifully decorated sanctuary.
Watch the Charlie Brown Christmas Special with your kids, and then talk about it afterwards. (Same thing goes for The Grinch—Dr. Seuss may not have been all about Jesus, but with a little talking, you can get the Whos there.)
Go for it, get that beautiful nativity scene you’ve been eying…or get a simple light-outline one. Or use tube lighting to spell out “God bless you” or “Merry Christmas” on your front lawn instead of “Happy Holidays.”
If Santa visits your home, avoid referring to him as “magic.” Answer your kids’ pesky questions about the Jolly Old Elf (how does he get to every house in one night?) like this: “Hmmm… all I know is that Santa loves Jesus so much that he wants to show God’s love to kids at Christmas.” Then shift their focus from getting to giving: “How can you show God’s love to someone today?” I’ve even written a children’s story on my blog for you to share with your kids—“Nicholas and the Christ Child” is my most popular blog post ever!
Have a special spot on the Christmas tree where you always hang a Baby Jesus ornament (front and center—prime tree real estate!). Have a picnic dinner next to the tree one night and talk with your kids about how God’s love is as constant as an evergreen. Hang a candy cane on the tree, and tell your kids about its symbolism—how it looks like a shepherd staff or a “J” for Jesus, and that the white and red stripes symbolize Christ’s purity and blood sacrifice on the cross. (I know, I’ve heard that’s a myth, but we get to chose what things symbolize to us!)
Wrap with faith-themed wrapping paper, while listening to a church choir CD. Or download the Advent sermon series from another church and listen to the Word as you wrap away.
(Lights at the Zoo, a big thing around here!)—While enjoying the lights, talk with your kids about how beautiful light in the darkness really is, and how Jesus is the Light of the World. While looking at the animals, talk about how God created all things and loves them special—and how Psalm 150:6 says, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!” And on the way home, find the brightest star in the sky and talk about the wise men and the light of their special star.
Everything about Christmas can and should be about Jesus! These are just some ideas—I know you’ll take it from here. Ladies, pray over everything you do this December and dedicate your work to the Lord. Celebrate our Lord Jesus all season long!
Giving Thought to Your Ways (a la Proverbs 14:8)
- How can you plan ahead to alleviate holiday crunch time?
- Are you observing holiday traditions that you don’t even like anymore?
- How can you simplify your December?
- How can you take your favorite traditions up a notch, making them even more about Jesus?
For help with Christmas hospitality, check out my handbook, Organizing For Christian Hospitality!
And if you’d like to get organized with Jesus this New Year, be sure to check out the Organizing You books!
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