Christmas can be a very hectic time of year for many people. It’s easy to become overwhelmed, with parties to go to and shopping to do; even spending time with extended family can be stressful.
Traditions are important and powerful forces in our lives, but sometimes we become so focused on them that we forget why we are celebrating. For the last few years, my family has tried to slow down, step back and remember the real reason we celebrate Christmas: the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. We’ve made a conscious effort to return to the manger.
Here are a few things we’ve done as a family to keep Christ first in our thoughts during the Christmas season:
- Watching the movie “The Star.” It’s the animated story of Jesus’s birth and the first Christmas. It stars a donkey and his animal friends. It’s full of fun music and laughs but really does a fabulous job of sharing the birth of Christ with kids. My boys love the movie and have watched it several times this month! The movie is available on DVD and Netflix.
- Reading the “Advent Adventure Series” by Arnold Ytreeide. The series is four books that you read over four years during Advent. The books are really exciting and will have you on the edge of your seat. My boys beg me to keep reading when we complete a night’s story! They can’t wait to see what happens next! At the end of each night’s story there is a lesson and Bible verse that go along with the story. We ordered ours on Amazon Kindle.
- Setting up a Nativity scene in our home. This is always the first decoration my boys set up. We try to put it near our front door so we can see it every day and remember Baby Jesus. Our little town has a live Nativity scene that is set up every year near Christmas time. My boys love to go visit the donkey and sheep, we make a point to go at least once every Christmas.
- Attending Christmas service at church. Although we love attending every church service there really is something magical about the Christmas service. Everyone is there to celebrate and rejoice in the birth of Jesus!
- Offering a kind word and a smile to a stranger. This costs us nothing and really can make a difference in someone’s day. Especially during the busy Christmas shopping season, a “Thank you” and “Merry Christmas” to the checker at the store might be the highlight of their day. I have found that doing this at Christmas makes me want to keep doing this all year long! It not only made someone else happy, it made me happy too.
However you celebrate, I wish you a restful time with family and joy in your heart.