Christmas is all about…
Cookies! Presents! Santa Claus! These are the answers you might hear if you ask a child what Christmas is all about. Of course, we adults are more sophisticated. Our answers are more likely to be “spending time with friends and family” or “giving to those less fortunate” or “peace on earth.”
Now, these are all good answers – I love presents and cookies, and peace on earth would be just grand. But all these things are no more than a tiny part of what Christmas is all about – the tissue paper, so to speak, in our gift bag of Christmas.
So what is Christmas all about then? If we tear aside the tissue paper and tinsel, what do we find as the real, sustaining, comforting substance of Christmas? You know the answer, of course. Christmas is all about celebrating a tiny baby born in a manger – the Christ Jesus.
It’s no wonder we lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas amidst all the to-do lists and must-have presents of the season. One of my less-than-stellar parenting moments occurred in a Wal-Mart a few weeks before Christmas when my oldest son was about nine months old. My husband and I strapped Kegan into the baby seat of the shopping cart and plunged separately into the toy aisle. Ten minutes later, we met up again—but neither of us had Kegan. Each of us thought the other had taken him, while he sat quietly at the end of the toy aisle waiting for his distracted parents. We retrieved our child, none the worse for being temporarily abandoned. (And please tell me I’m not the only mother who has done something like this!)
Just as we lost track of our flesh-and-blood baby in the toy store aisles at Christmas, so do we all sometimes lose track of the baby Jesus. Our focus shifts from the everlasting gift God gave us to the Elmo TMX or Nintendo Wii we want to get our kids. Slow down—savor the season—celebrate our Messiah. How to do this? Try—
• Celebrating Advent. Advent is traditionally the four Sundays before Christmas when we anticipate Jesus’ birth. Make or buy an Advent wreath, light a new candle each Sunday, and read a family devotion. Any Christian bookstore should have Advent wreaths and family devotions books.
• Celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas. The 12 Days of Christmas is more than a song – it is the time period from Christmas day to Epiphany (January 6, when the Wise Men traditionally came). Christmas is a season, not a day, and it begins December 25. Let everyone else take their trees the day after Christmas, while your family continues quietly celebrating. I have even thought of spreading out our gifts over the course of the 12 days instead of opening them all Christmas morning, but I’ve never been able to convince the rest of the family.
• Giving to others. Instead of breaking your budget buying things people don’t need just to have a gift for them, “adopt” a family or child who needs gifts and share with them. Most churches and stores have “Angel Trees” with names of needy children.
Whatever you do, remember that Jesus is quietly waiting at the end of the toy aisle for us to notice we’ve forgotten him again.
Stacey Schifferdecker is the happy but harried mother of three school-aged children—two boys and a girl. She is also a freelance writer, a Children’s Minister, a PTA volunteer, and a Scout leader. Stacey has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and French and a Master’s degree in English. She has written extensively about parenting and education as well as business, technology, travel, and hobbies.
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