Turkey day is over, and your waistline is showing your overconsumption on that glorious day. I like to think of myself as an over achiever in this particular area, we ate around 2pm and I didn’t eat again for the rest of the day. It was magical, people. Then, the much anticipated and always over promising Black Friday event followed. If you are like most Americans, you partook in some form of shopping on Black Friday. You may have scored some pretty sweet swag for yourself or family members. Why??? Because Christmas is right around the corner, and those present lists don’t fill themselves. Santa isn’t going to squeeze his butt down the chimney and get little Billy the new iPhone X. That’s on you. The pressure is on to make the house look awesome and for you to find “THE” gift for all the people on your list. If you have kiddos, you likely have their wish list. It’s a lot of pressure, and it can cause the best of us to dread this time of the year. You may even be wishing for it to pass quickly and move on.
Let me be honest with you. If this is how you feel, then you need to make some changes in your life, because you are doing Christmas wrong. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Christmas is THE best time of the year. Why wouldn’t it be? Just as our world gets a little gloomier with leaves falling, and the sun setting by late afternoon, people start decorating streets, buildings, and homes and everything is lit up. I love Christmas. I love buying gifts that people will love. I love receiving gifts. I love celebrating and thanking God for sending His son, Jesus Christ, into this dark world to bring hope to the hopeless. The last point is the main reason I love Christmas so much. It’s a special reminder of God’s love to all of humanity and it is truly humbling to reflect on a love that profound. As they say, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” Corny I know, but effective nonetheless.
Most of you likely agree with me, but HOW do you stay focused as a family? For kids, it becomes all about the gifts and rightly so….they are kids. Nevertheless, how can we as parents, help them to stay focused on what Christmas, the best time of the year, is all about?
I’ll share something that my wife, Meg, and I do. Remember, this is what works for us and it may not work for you. The point is to help our families stay focused during Christmas.
The most effective tactic we have implemented, is having family devotion after dinner each night, starting on December 1st. We read through a devotional called “Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas” by Ann Voskamp. It is by far one of best family devotions you can pick up, and worth the money. Now, I need a word of caution about family devotion time. Set your expectations low, people! Parents can so easily expect that what Paul says in Colossians 3:17 is going to happen at devotion time.
“Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.”
Your children are probably not going to be singing songs to you or God and they are probably not going to be super thankful during this time either. The likelihood is that they will be bouncing off the walls and driving you nuts, especially at first. But, it’s worth it. Trust me, it’s worth it. You are teaching them something, so important that it’s worth the struggle you will face. To help you through some of the craziness, you can try something we do as a family. Before we read each evening, we pass out tiny candy canes to all the kids, and once in a while they even get hot chocolate too. This adds excitement, and helps to occupy them during our devotion time. We also use the candy cane as a simple teaching tool. The cane represents Jesus as the shepherd of our lives. The white represents that Christ had no sin. The red represents the blood he shed when he died for our sins. You can even turn the candy cane upside down to make a ‘J’ for Jesus. After we get done reading the devotion, one of the kiddos will hang a special ornament on a “Jesse Tree” that goes along with the devotion for the day (there is even a free link in the book to print the ornaments right at home—so simple, the way we like it). It may take some time for all of this to catch on, but, over time it will. The point is to be consistent, HAVE FUN and to power through. You can Pinterest some good ideas for this, but here is what ours looks like.
So, there you have it! This is just one thing we do to help with some of the craziness of Christmas. You don’t have to do it our way but you should try something. Yes, your kids will probably be focused on what they are going to get under the Christmas tree. However, the point is to refocus yourself and your families’ attention. As the Angel Gabriel said to Mary in Luke 1:32-33:
“He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; His kingdom will never end.”
This is good news, and it’s worth the effort in order to refocus on the reason for the season. This will be our 4th year going through this devotion, and our kids are already excited about it. It wasn’t always this way, but we are beginning to witness the results of our efforts. And remember, the Angel Gabriel also told Mary, “Nothing is impossible with God.” That means God can and will be with you during this time of refocus for your family. God Bless!
~Submitted by Andy Mannes, Student Ministry Director