I’m off on a quick trip to sunny Arizona for an extended family party. Only a few days left ’til Christmas! In case you missed my guest post over at The Things I Love, here are some of the traditions our family does to try and remember Christ at this season. Hope your holiday hasn’t been too stressful and that you’ve been able to take a few moments and remember the reason we celebrate. God bless and Merry Christmas!
Anyway. When I had my first child I was sooo excited to have our “first Christmas” together. I envisioned the mountains of gifts and the glow on his little cheeks. Then I realized, wait a sec, he’s only two months old. He will eat the paper, choke and ruin everything. Christmas morning came and went and he didn’t even know it was Christmas! So rude. It finally dawned on me that maybe Christmas wasn’t really about the presents… I mean, he seemed to be ok without getting anything. Or at least without REALIZING he got anything.
As the years passed (he’s a whopping five years old now) I started to have a different vision of Christmas in my mind. It started with a trip that my husband and I took to China. He had a three-week legal training in Beijing and I tagged along. We’d been to Mexico and the Bahamas before and thought we kind of knew what to expect as far as poverty. Not even close. I’ll never forget the day we rode in the car of this INSANE driver weaving in and out of traffic, slamming on the brakes every few minutes, and multiple heart failures later, dropping us off in this remote village in the middle of who knows where, pointing to some trees at the top of a hill and saying “wall”. “I pick you up later”. And walking away. We were looking at each other praying that the Great Wall was really on the other side of those trees. And I had to pee! A nice little lady who was living inside some pieces of stacked up wood let me use her toilet. She pulled aside a curtain and pointed to a hole in the dirt. Yup. THAT is poverty. No tv. No plumbing. No refrigerator. No washing machine. So…I started picturing the holiday’s volunteering at soup kitchen’s, taking cookies to the widows and building a well for children in Africa. I envisioned teenagers who would rather give Christmas to children in need than to want the latest electronic device for themselves. So maybe that will never be reality, but it’s something to shoot for. I started to realize that MY attitude and beliefs about Christmas would essentially determine what their attitudes and beliefs would be.
My husband and I discussed ways we could encourage them to appreciate all the things they’ve been blessed with and not just be spoiled rotten kids. We figured we’d start by donating to charities ourselves. Once our son was old enough to write we started having him write the checks to UNICEF and LDS Charities. When natural disasters strike such as Japan last year, we donate a little to help. We don’t have a lot of money, but we choose to reserve a certain percentage of our income to help others. We hope that this will teach our children that helping others is important and that everything we have is a gift from God and not really ours.
So, I started to think about ways I could teach my children that Christmas is really about Jesus and the miracle he gave us rather than gifts and presents and me me me. Don’t get me wrong, I love presents as much as the next person, but let’s face it, at the end of the day I am the one who has to put away all that junk day after day, so really more is less. That was our first decision. Limiting gifts. I think one or two well chosen gifts is enough for a child to enjoy the excitement of Christmas without becoming a spoiled *you know what* and building an ever-increasing list of Christmas demands.
What are the things you do with your family to remember Jesus this season?