5 Practical Ideas to keep the focus on Jesus this Christmas

Whether it be Santa, shopping, baking, decorating or perhaps trying to make things “just so” for your family this season, distractions threaten to pull us away from the true meaning of Christmas. Jesus is the reason for the season, we know and preach this cliche well, but do we live it?

Neal A. Maxwell said it best when he said “each of us is an innkeeper who decides if there is room for Jesus”.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the aforementioned ways of celebrating as long as we keep Christ the center of Christ-mas. It is when we replace the true meaning of the season (a baby born of a Virgin to save the sinners of the world) with comparatively trivial ways of celebrating that we error.

There are multiple ways of keeping Jesus first this season. Parents, I implore you not to remove the magic of this season. There is no need to be legalistic. The observance of Jesus’ birthday should be a delightful time for our families. After all it is the celebration of the King of Kings and Lord of Lord’s being born into our very world.

So then, you may be wondering how to keep the focus on Jesus? How during the hustle and bustle that Christmas brings do we slow down enough to set our minds on things above?

I can only speak to what has become tradition in our young family. The ways in which Christmas is celebrated is as unique as each family celebrating it. A word to the wise – do not allow this to be one more thing to add to your ever growing to do list. Jesus tells us that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

So a few things we have done:

1). We observe advent.

We do this a few different ways. We have candles we light each evening, we read Ann Voskamps “Unwrapping the Greatest Gift” and our boys count down the days with a paper chain and a chocolate Advent calendar. This all serves to build anticipation for Christmas day. As our children age we will begin to share how desperate the people of Jesus’ time we’re for the Messiah and how that plays into the overall story of Christmas.

2). Celebrate Jesus’ birthday.

We actually make a cake and sing Happy birthday to Jesus each Christmas morning. My children are at the age that birthdays are full of excitement and wonder. To relate the message of it being His birthday helps our children to grasp the true meaning of Christmas in a way they understand.

3). Serve others.

This is something we should aim to do 365 days a year. However, it will come as no shock to you that Christmas time offers a multitude of opportunities to do so. We talk to our 4 year old about how in serving others we are serving God Himself.

“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

4). We have chosen to keep gift giving to a minimum.

For our personal family we do “something to wear, something they read, something they want and something they need”. I have also heard of families doing 3 gifts per child as that’s what the Wise men brought for Jesus. I do not want my children growing up thinking Christmas is a time to get but rather to give.

5). I will leave you with how we personally have chosen to handle Santa.

I did not want my children getting caught up in the pretend part of Christmas and not relishing the true meaning of the season (which again of course is Jesus). So instead of doing Santa we participate in Saint Nicholas Day which is December 6th. This year (as our oldest is now at an age he will understand) we will teach a little about who he was as a person.

See also: Why Skip Santa? 5 Reasons to Consider Shifting Your Focus This Christmas

What about you?

What holiday traditions does your family celebrate to keep Christ in the center?

I pray these ideas have sparked ideas in your mind on how to keep Christ at the center of this Christmas season. Have a very Merry Christmas as you celebrate the Savior of the World!

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