Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, but is often overshadowed by presents, Santa Claus and other more commercial distractions. Santa, elves and other winter celebrations of Christmas magic aren't bad, but there needs to be a healthy balance between the secular and religious. How can we create that balance in our homes? How can we include both the religious and more secular aspects of Christmas in our celebrations? How can we create traditions that keep our focus more centered on Christ? There are many ways we, as parents and individuals, can create an atmosphere that focuses more on Christ while keeping the Christmas magic alive.
It is possible for Santa and Christ to co-exist
There are some very lovable things about Santa. He carries the spirit of giving, happiness, joy and excitement. Oftentimes, however, he becomes the main focus of the season. A book titled "I Believe in Santa Claus" by Diane Adamson draws a beautiful parallel between Santa and Jesus. Full of colorful pictures, children will love to listen as they are taught about the nature and similarities of Santa Claus and Jesus Christ (you may even get a bit teary). Using Santa as a symbol that leads us closer to Christ, we can help bring balance to the secular and religious aspects of Christmas.
Incorporate Nativities in your Christmas decorations
Amid the stockings, Christmas trees, snowmen, lights and other holiday trimmings, consider using Christ-centered items, as well. Nativities are depictions of the Savior's birth that usually include Joseph, Mary, wise men, shepherds, angels, animals and, of course, the baby Jesus. This is a great visual teaching tool and can help families to focus more on Christ by having it prominently displayed in the home. You can also display pictures of Christ that will help remind your family of the reason for Christmas.
Learn about the Nativity figures
"A Christ-Centered Christmas" by Emily Freeman suggests a new tradition for families. Each week for seven weeks before Christmas (or days — whatever works best for your family), Freeman suggests spending time learning about key individuals from the Nativity. Read about, and teach your family about Mary, Joseph, the angel, wise men, shepherd, lamb and finally on Christmas Eve or Day, Jesus Christ. This will help families gain a deeper understanding of Christ's birth and other important characters in the Nativity story.
Many communities or churches have free or inexpensive musical performances or other activities open to the public that focus on Christ. Performances of "The Messiah" or live Nativities or Nativity displays for public viewing are some events that may be available.
Do service for others
A main part of Christ's ministry was serving those around him. Whether homeless, sick, lonely or otherwise afflicted, Jesus was a comfort and help to all he met. Likewise, we can focus on Christ by serving those around us. Bringing Christmas to a family, volunteering at shelters, donating time, money or talents to those who could use our help are some great ways to show our love for Jesus and to teach our children how to be more Christ like.
Read about his birth
A tradition in our home is to read about the birth of Jesus in Luke 2 in the New Testament. Sometimes, we even choose to dress up and act out the story of his birth. This is lots of fun for children, and helps them grasp the true meaning of Christmas. Also, there are movies or video clips that depict Christ's miraculous birth that are great teaching tools to fill your home with the spirit of Christ.
Christmas magic is not only reserved for Santa, reindeer and elves, but the true "magic" is in the gift that God gave his son for all of us. We can teach our children to remember Christ at Christmas, to follow his example and to learn more about him at this special time of year.
Wendy is a regular contributor for familyshare.com and does media reviews. Website: https://survivorshopeandhealing.wordpress.com/ for victims of sexual abuse. Blog: https://wendyejessen.wordpress.com Twitter: @WendyJessen