The goal of the Christmas Season Celebration is to give God glory.
31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 NAS
Even a quick look at the history of Christmas traditions, shows wide variety and lots of change down through the ages. The early Church may have deliberately hijacked local cultures’ winter solstice festivities in order to transform deep-rooted pagan practices into Christian worship and Christmas traditions. As Steve Russo writes in Keeping Christ in Christmas:
[As Christianity spread over Europe] “anything that held significance for the old religions was either altered to fit into Christian context or tossed aside…”
Even the contemporary secular celebrations of “Season’s Greetings” “Happy Holidays” et al as well as today’s rampant consumerism and materialism taking over a religious-based “holy” day isn’t new. Also from Russo:
[In the 1500s] “Puritans and Protestants in England condemned the drinking, gluttony, and partying associated with Christmas celebrations…”
“…by the time the Industrial Revolution began, all thoughts seemed to turn toward work, money, and progress…in this fast-paced atmosphere there appeared to be no room for the holidays.” [This is seen in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol with its character of Ebenezer Scrooge.]
With a celebration whose only constant has been change, how to personalize Christmas is up to you.
What do you want your family’s Christmas to be?
What you do at Christmas is like your life.
You do what you choose to do.
You can choose to not do things you deem do not contribute to your family’s spiritual growth.
You can choose to not conform to the world’s behavior regarding Christmas.
Again, from Keeping Christ in Christmas:
“Our commitment to Christ and our love for Him must be evident in all we do… If our character is like Christ’s we can be sure our behavior will honor God. Once we have this new attitude, our approach to observing Christmas will change. That doesn’t mean we will reject the traditional customs but that we will find ourselves incorporating them in new and different ways.”
An example of changing the focus from “the gimmie’s” – getting gifts, especially tons of toys from Santa, is the practice of Santa Claus leaving only three gifts, in the same way the Magi gave three gifts to the baby Jesus. This limits children from expecting a never-ending pile of presents. Whatever else you decide to give to your children comes from you, not Santa. In family discussions, you can help your children set realistic expectations based on your family’s budget. And you all learn that more things do not mean more love.
As you envision the best Christmas celebration for your family, be sure to include some sort of giving to the Christ Child. This could include such things as “Toys For Tots” or “Angel Tree.” Or consider giving of your family’s time in service to someone in need. This would show Immanuel – God with us – as the Body of Christ working on earth is seen, both to those you serve and your own family members.
Unless your children are older or very young, change from the worldly way can be difficult. Grow to a new kind of Christmas. Grow in your decisions to focus on the reason for the season. Grow in teaching your family about the “Spirit of Christmas.” As a green shoot stretches for the sun, your family will grow toward the Son.
Creating a New Vision of Christmas
Begin cast a new Vision for your family’s Christmas celebration.
Focus on your reason for the season as you envision a Christmas Celebration that has significance for you and your family.
1. Review the information from Remembrance and Evaluation.
- What things do you want to keep in your vision of Christmas?
- What things do you want to omit?
- What things do you want to do differently?
- What things do you want to add?
2. Make a list of all the things you want to do as a family celebration of Christmas.
- Be sure to include input from other family members.
3. Review the information from Values.
- Write down how your Values are expressed in each activity on your list.
- Does the activity you have chosen reflect the values you decided were important?
- If no, what could you do to make it express the values you desire?
- Are there desired values that are not expressed in your chosen activities?
- Can a slight change of activity include this value also?
4. Write down the proposed Christmas activities.
- Don’t do it alone. Get family members’ ideas, input, and involvement.
- Using the list from your Family Christmas Values Statement, rate each activity from most important to least important.
- Depending on the ages of the children, each family member may be allowed to choose the activity that is most important to him or her.
5. Then decide which activities you will do.
- Does this activity fit our values?
- Can we make the activity more Christ-centered?
- Add or subtract activities depending on the ages of children, grandchildren, empty nest, death, or divorce. You can add them next year if you really miss them.
6. Decide about Gifting.
- Set a budget
- Can you reduce your gift-giving? Poll family and friends. Do they really want to continue exchanging gifts?
- Consider giving non-materialistic gifts. For example, handmade, consumable, renewable gifts, or coupons for time, services, experiences, etc.
- Give birthday presents to Jesus by giving to others who are in need.
- Emphasize GIVING, not getting. Give to someone without expecting anything in return. You’ll be amazed at what you do receive.
It’s your Vision.
It’s your decision.
How do you make your family’s Christmas celebration the way you want it to be?
Now you create an action plan in order to bring your Christmas vision in being. This Christmas Celebration mission statement is the How-To to turn your celebration into a Christmas that best fits your family.
This time of year, newspapers and magazines are full of tips for reducing Christmas-induced stress, creating meaningful Christmas traditions, curbing over-spending, as well as ideas for having a totally non-traditional Christmas celebration. What fits into your plan? What can you do, or not do, so that your holiday is a “Holy”-day, focused on “God with us” – Immanuel?
As we have learned, Christmas celebrations of the past have changed through the years. So you, too, can chop, dice, stir, and add to the mix. You can choose to modify, alter, and change the old. You can choose to make new or re-new the celebrations as your family remembers the birth of Jesus, Holy Son of God.
Pick and choose.
Keep and lose.
Retain old traditions and start new ones.
But keep the main thing the main thing.
Keep your focus on Jesus. Keep the attention on Yeshua.
Remember. The manger leads to the cross!
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33 NIV
How can you seek first His kingdom?
1. Turn to God first for help.
- Don’t try to do everything in your own strength. Or by yourself!
2. Take Christ’s life as a pattern of living.
- Maintain or begin Quiet Time with God. Yes, you do have time. You can choose to make reading the Bible and praying an important part in your life.
3. Fill your mind with God’s desires.
- What does God desire? Read The Book to find out!
Look at your family Christmas Celebration vision statement.
This is what you want Christmas to be like at your house.
- Pick the top three things or activities. Or five. Or one from each person.
- Schedule them on your family calendar. See, now you can have lots of family time. You aren’t doing too much.
- What needs to be done in order for the first activity to happen? Write it all down.
- What needs to be done for the next activity to occur? And the next? Write down the steps needed for each thing or activity to be celebrated.
- Delegate.What tasks can be shared with other family members? Have a “Let’s polish the silver” party. (Are you sure you want to use the silver?) Let go of “the old way is the best way”. You might just be surprised. (And you might start a new family tradition!)
- Delegate. What tasks can friends share in? Pot-luck or dessert only?
- Delegate. What tasks can be hired out? Cleaning. Catering. The outside lights put up by a teenager. Pick up plain cookies from the grocery and just have the fun of decorating!
Choose, plan, and focus on the reason for the season.
Make these things the basis for your family’s celebration of the Nativity of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Yeshua Messiah.
Until next time…
It’s ok to doubt, if you check it out!
Be a Berean!
10The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Acts 17:10, 11 ESV
Please join me in this journey of discovery.
- Share this blog with others, whether they are doubting, or not.
- Take what I say and CHECK IT OUT FOR YOURSELF!