Our Christmas tree is up, the carols are playing, and my seven year old keeps singing a song that goes something like, "Presents!, presents?, presents now please. Is Santa coming today?" It seems like some time between last Christmas and this Christmas, he shifted his focus from the birth of Jesus Christ and pretty decorations to being the premier, deserving receiver of presents. The good news…1) this is age appropriate and quite normal 2) he is still young enough for dad and mom to help him refocus on the real reason for the season.
So, if you are in the same shoes as I am and trying to constructively celebrate Christmas, or perhaps you have gotten swept away yourself in making wish lists and trying to fulfill others' requests, below are five simple but effective ways to refocus your mind and heart this Christmas season.
1) Add a verse each day to your Advent Calendar or Christmas Countdown that tells the Christmas story. With each little gift or piece of candy your family opens, you will also have the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Mary and Joseph as they prepare for baby Jesus. This year, my boys can pull out the verse card, and after we read it together, can then receive their gift. Here is a link for a free printable template: http://glittermagic.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/advent-bible-verse-cards.pdf
2) Pick an outreach, like Angel Tree or a Gift Catalog through World Vision, where each family member can choose a specific person to bless, and the entire family can shop/bake and give together.
3) Make the nativity scene a focal point for the decorations in your home so everyone is frequently reminded of why we celebrate this special day.
4) Watch a family movie that reflects the Christmas Story (e.g.: "The Nativity Story") in addition to childhood favorites like Frosty the Snowman and It's A Wonderful Life.
5) Attend a Christmas Eve service at your church.
None of the above ideas take too much time, but each could make an everlasting imprint on you and your children and how you celebrate this delightful season.