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Seven years and three kids into being a parent I’ve still got a lot of things to figure out. Some parenting lessons are fun to learn and some – if I’m honest – are a bit scary. Early on in our marriage my wife and I talked about the various traditions of our upbringing – and what elements we’d like to combine or new ones we’d like to create as our family grew. Inevitably most of the traditions that we reflected on had to do with holiday celebrations.

In American culture the Christmas season is the longest holiday season and as a result also the most packed with various traditions. So as our firstborn arrived we began to talk about things like Advent, how we should approach Santa Claus, and what to do on Christmas Eve. As we talked, we found ourselves sifting through three significant areas as it relates to celebrating Christmas.

  • How our culture celebrates it
  • How our families celebrate it
  • How our faith celebrates it

As you can imagine there are quite a few points of intersection in all three of these areas but there are also some pretty significant disconnects.

As a whole our culture (the United States) continues to move father and farther away from remembering Jesus birth and deeper and deeper into the consumer and commercialization of the Christmas season.  Many Christians families struggle with being overwhelmed by the culture while still trying to maintain some semblance of faith.

I can remember one of the first years of celebrating Christmas with our firstborn. Literally dozens of relatives had given our son presents for Christmas. Before we had begun to open the stack of presents under the tree he pulled out a small car from his stocking – and we could have stopped right there. The intense joy and satisfaction on his face from receiving that new car and his immediate energy in driving it around the house said it all.  After a few minutes though we actually interrupted his play to get him busy opening his mountain of presents. This ended up becoming a key event in how we would approach future Christmas celebrations.

My wife and I had some questions to ask.
- In a culture that is doing everything it can to ignore Jesus, how do we make him the center of Christmas?
- How can we use the very prominent aspect of gift giving as a selfless part of Christmas – not a selfish one?
- Is it OK to allow fun, silly, and maybe even allow non-religious aspects of the Christmas season be a part of our celebration?

As our family continues to grow and our kids get older, my wife and I have realized that it’s up to us to be intentional in how we aim the focus of this season. We have the immense privilege and responsibility to put the focus where it should be. And so as a family we have intentional conversations, we read stories, we promote generosity, we correct selfishness, and above all we remember Jesus.
Do we fail in our focus? You bet. Just because we’re adults doesn’t mean we’re not influenced by the culture. Our hope though is that someday when our children are starting families of their own, that their memories of the Christmas season will be packed full of Jesus, relationships, and generosity.

 

How about you? In what ways do you strive to make the reality of Christ’s incarnation a focus of the Christmas season?

Please share in the comments section below.