There’s something that’s been weighing on my mind this holiday season – am I really encouraging my family to focus on Christ? It’s one thing to say “we don’t focus on Santa” and “we celebrate Christ during Christmas” but another thing to intentionally create traditions. Traditions that show my kids how much Jesus loves them and how we take time out this time of year to celebrate His love for us.
Since my kids are little, we’ve decided to make our traditions more concrete and tactile in nature.
Some of these we started last year, and some of these are ideas I have for us this year!
Here we go! Faith Based Christmas Traditions for Families!
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A Meaningful Christmas
This is something we started last year and actually LOVE it! These sweet moms, Carrie and Brittney, created a 24 day family devotional to be read during the 24 days leading up to Christmas.
Each day has the Bible verse written for the day, a little interpretation for the parent, questions to ask the kids, and an application for the kids.
On the table of contents page the authors have given ideas for ornaments to be made for your tree! That’s what we did. We have an ornament a day for our girls to put on the tree just after we read the verse.
It’s such an easy an practical way for them to be apart of the Christmas story and gear up for Christmas day!
If you don’t have enough time to make all 24 ornaments, host an ornament exchange for next year!
Check out their website at www.ameaningfulchristmas.com for more information.
Shepherd on the Search
This little guy is actually new to the Christmas scene. Unlike the Elf on the Shelf, this little guy doesn’t do crazy things that you have to clean up later lol. The Shepherd comes with a story book that you can read as many times as you want with the kids and each night he makes his way through the house towards your nativity set (or his if you want to use the box). You can do this part with your kids or you can hide him and let the kids look for HIM the next morning while he’s making his way to the nativity.
What I like about this is that it still encompasses the idea of popular Elf on the Shelf, without the “Santa Cam” or “reports back to Santa” idea.
Happy Birthday Jesus
This is something I really want to start this year.
At my church growing up at least 2 or 3 times Christmas landed on a Sunday while I was there. And why I remember that is because on those mornings we had a special time at the end of the service where we had a birthday cake for Jesus! It was so fun being a little kid and singing happy birthday to Jesus!
Since my oldest, Emma, will be 3 and 1/2 this year, I thought this would be the perfect age to start this tradition.
So, on Christmas day we plan to make a birthday cake for Jesus and sing “Happy Birthday!”
This is something that I’ve been wanting to do with Emma since she was born. However, we just got to start it this year. (It’s ALWAYS better late than never!) I’ve been wanting to really teach her to give back to others in need during this time of year. Especially to remember the widows and orphans (James 1:27).
This year our Mothers Of Preschoolers group at church (part of Mops International – great program! Join one near you!) packed several shoeboxes full of things that impoverished and orphaned children from all over the world need. We did it with Operation Christmas Child which is just a great experience. We went to the dollar store and I let her help me pick out things for SOMEONE ELSE. I made sure she understood this shopping trip was not about her, but about giving back to someone else. It went great!
We also went with our MOPs group to a local nursing home and sang Christmas carols with our kids. Okay, mostly they just dressed up in cute clothes and smiled at the crowd and the moms sang lol…BUT it was so cute and so much fun. I remember at one point looking out at the crowd and my heart just bursting with JOY! It was so sweet that God gave us that time to reach out to them and bring a little joy to their day.
As we were leaving one of the ladies said “we’ve been looking forward to this!!” That just about broke my heart in the best way.
The kids also passed out some Christmas cards they colored with Bible verses and encouragement so they had something for their rooms.
It was just a little stop in our day, but it meant so much to the residents there. Many of whom may or may not have family who visits them throughout the week.
Christmas Eve Service
Does your church do this? Our church, every year on Christmas Eve, has a special 1 hour service for Christmas that the whole family attends together. While each church may vary on what is included (candles, music, sermon, Lord’s supper, etc) the idea is that we set aside time during Christmas to celebrate the birth of Christ with our family.
When we had our daughter I told my husband how important it was to me that we go to church on Christmas Eve together as a family. We have really enjoyed that time together as a family and yes, my little kids get squirmy, BUT they also love the music and sitting in “Big Church” with us.
Ok…what about Santa…
I know what you are thinking…Brittany, what about Santa?
When it comes to the issue of Santa I’ll tell you what we do, but that doesn’t mean if you differ that you are wrong, or anti-fill in the blank.
We decided this – Christmas is a REALLY busy season. My husband is a minister so we have LOTS going on during this time of year. So, for me, I have limited energy to give during the holidays. And if I had to choose, I’d much rather spend my energy focusing on Christ at Christmas.
Do we have pictures with Santa? Yes. Am I the one who plans this? Nope.
I don’t NOT like Santa, I’m just apathetic. So, if my MIL wants me to meet her at the mall for the kids to have pictures with Santa, then I will, no problem. It’s important to her so I definitely don’t mind meeting up for her.
However, you can spend all holiday season chasing down all the Santa pictures, pretending the Elf made a mess all through the house, making sure the kids make cookies Christmas Eve, reading all the books, watching all the movies, riding the local train to meet up with Santa, etc. You get my drift.
It’s not that we don’t ever do those things, or won’t do them, we just don’t prioritize those things.
My kids know who Santa is…they don’t live under a rock. lol
But he’s about as real to them as Curious George.
We don’t tell the girls “be good, Santa is watching” or anything like that. We just say “oh yeah, that’s Santa” and move on with our day.
Are we depriving our kids of the Christmas magic? No. We are immersing them in the Christmas miracle.
And that’s just the way that we have been doing Christmas at our house for our kids. It won’t hurt my feelings at all if you want to teach your kids about Santa. I won’t judge you or call you out for being anti-whatever. I promise. lol
Just think about what you have time for this Christmas season, prioritize what’s MOST important for what you want your kids to learn and the traditions you want to pass on.
You are loved!!