Thursday, December 9, 2010

Keeping Christmas Eternal

I should be making Christmas cookies right now. That was on *my* agenda today, at least. But I think the Lord had other things in mind for a little while.

You know how easy it is to look at one website, that's linked to another article, that links to a blog post and then a video and before you know it you've been sitting in front of the computer for over an hour? That happens to me often, but in this case for good reasons. I ran into a series of blogs and websites that was one confirmation after another about some changes in direction I feel God might be leading our family when it comes to traditions, Christmas, and the way we raise our kids.

To visit and be challenged by the blog posts also, click the links here:
Thinking about whose birthday it really is
Ten Things to Do at Christmas when all the Gifts are for Him
The Great Give-Away
and make sure you watch the video here:
Depraved Indifference
(Not very "Christmasey", I know... but it really is the heart of WHY we celebrate Christmas.)

My heart has been changing every so subtly but profoundly over these past few months on our journey with little Judah. I am discovering more each day that God's heart for children is evident and ingrained in the hearts of mothers. My (and Jonathan's) desire is not just to make our kids happy, but to lead and train them gently and consistently "in the way he should go, so when he is old he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6)

Easier said then done, that's for sure.

However, it is SO easy, and as I so often do, to get wrapped up in our cultures expectations and traditions. Especially during Christmas.

The list is long:

  1. Buy the presents
  2. Send the cards
  3. Make the cookies
  4. Listen to the music
  5. Throw the parties
  6. Watch the movies
  7. Decorate the house...

And then come January:

  1. Recover from the colds
  2. Get back on the treadmill
  3. Be exhausted and worn out (and just glad its over)
  4. Tremble with fear to look at your bank account/credit card...

Now I know that's not always the case every time. I certainly enjoy the opportunities to give people gifts and see friends and family and all the pretty decorations. But I think it is so easy to go overboard and totally overlook the whole reason we celebrate. WHY do we do what we do at Christmas time? Guilt? Because everyone does it? Because it's fun? Is that all there is to it?

Yes, we have an occasional thought in our mind, "Jesus is the reason for the season", and we are reminded at Christmas Eve Service of the nativity and His birth...
But does it stop there or continue in your home and with your family traditions?
Is it engraved and entwined with every cookie you bake and story you read your children?

Are our children going to remember Christmas as a divine opportunity to share Christ, celebrate God's greatest gift and sacrifice, and share these precious moments with our closest family and friends... Are our Christmas traditions reflecting ETERNITY and HOPE? Things that will last through the ages, long after we are gone? Or is it destined to be just another "happy" memory twenty years from now?
(Not to say that creating happy and joyful memories for our kids are a bad thing... "Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" - Matthew 7:9-11)

And what about the poor and needy, the orphans and widows, the homeless and broken-hearted, the lonely and forgotten...? How do we respond to them especially during this time?

Side Note: Has anyone ever had the thought "why do we give money/gift cards to each other? It's just exchanging money between hands... no one really 'gains' anything except the thought that it was a nice gesture."
What about giving something that others can not give themselves (our time, abilities/talents, our conversation and words, our helping hands and feet, our creativity)? What about giving to those who can not return the favor... who won't/can't even say thank you? Could our gifts become more meaningful than exchanging cash in a Christmas card... are we giving just because that's what is expected? What about those who expect nothing, who have nothing, who have no hope, or who have no voice to ask?

Can we take all that Christmas has become, and turn it into a grand opportunity to reach out to those who desperately need not only the basics in life: food, shelter, care, and love... but the greatest gift of all: the gift of eternal life through Jesus??

How, then, can we practically instill that into our children in creative and meaningful ways? How can we create traditions that are more meaningful than just an exchange of monetary gifts? This is what is changing in my heart. I love to give gifts- it is one of my primary ways of expressing my love for others... however, it is important to me that these gifts are seasoned with eternal things that bring glory to God and point to Christ.



  1. I have So many thoughts. Because you put so much out to be thought about/ responded to.

    I feel like Christmas is a Paradox. In a way, It is the celebration or memory of Christ's Birthday. It is the time of the year when you can invite people to events where the Gospel is openly preached and they come, and even are excited about it. Its a time when the mysteries of God are proclaimed over the radio. and yet... it is also a holiday, that really, probably has a lot more to do with celebratory tradition than the actual birth of Christ. So as with everything, We enjoy it to its best degree of Giving God glory, just as we do with every other detail, day and season in our lives.

    As to gift cards, yes i have totally thought of that. But I am always so glad to get a gift card. caz i really don't spend money on myself getting the things i have been wanting or needing to get. And as a mom, its so nice to have a gift card to a place where i can by myself a new shirt that fits my newest shape. But i am totally with you on giving gifts that aren't just money. What about writing each sibling a letter telling them what you admire and appreciate in them. What about giving a person a week where you devote yourself to praying for them? Or babysitting (oh YEAH... Thats What I want for Christmas!) I love gifts that Make the givers be creative, and that will be remembered by the recipients.

    Finally, Christmas is a great way to teach kids perceptive on being content and joyful. There were alot of christmas that I was disappointed in certain gifts as a child, but it was good training to be thankful and content. But Joy comes best from giving, so its great to teach kids how to give in ways that are meaningful and lasting. As a mom, everything you know starts to be analyzed through a new view, and God will give you wisdom on how to raise children who love people, Love God, and enjoy giving, much more than focusing on the things of this world. :D

  2. Wow, very well written and it certainly does give one a lot to think about. I know my personal goal is to raise my girls to respect, honor, understand and love God all year round and I hope that in making him a major part of our daily lives, that Christmas will become an extra special time of year to praise his name and be especially greatful for the sacrifices he made for us.

    It would be nice to think of other ways to be generous to friends/family and particularly those in need. I do think that thoughtful/creative things from the heart or the gift of your time are much more valuable than monetary or expensive gifts. I also believe that they would be more appropriate to the spirit of the Holiday and its entire purpose.

    there are certainly no shortage of challenges and heavy decisions in parenting, let alone finding your families spiritual path as devoted Christians. Thank you for the lovely post. I think this really helped put things in perspective for me this season:)