Title: Christmas Blessings

Christmas brings many traditions. Each family has their own traditions that they celebrate and pass on to the next generation. My mother would always look for opportunities to teach and guide us in every situation – that included Christmas. She saw joy during the Christmas season and she loved to give and get gifts, just like we all do. I believe that, first and foremost, she saw it is a great way to teach us how much God loved us and truly what Christmas meant from a biblical point of view.

This could be very frustrating at times, because as a kid I wanted to always focus on the gifts….what kid doesn’t? My mom’s actions on Christmas morning directly led to my brother and me becoming less focused on ourselves and more focused on the Gift of Jesus and thinking of others. I want to share these with you in hopes of encouraging each of you during this season.

  1. Prepare ahead of time.  We used an advent calendar and counted the days down to Christmas. There wasn’t candy involved, but behind each flipped open paper door was a symbol and an associated scripture. We looked forward to it every night because we would take turns opening each door.
  2. Ease the hype. On Christmas morning, there wasn’t a mad rush to the tree. It wasn’t allowed. My mother would make a pot of coffee and we would wait until it was done. We would sit at the table and read of the birth of Christ from Luke 2. Once we got older, we would take turns reading. When we finished, it was finally time to go see what gifts were under the tree.
  3. Focus on giving. Once we got to the tree, we took turns picking out gifts one at a time from under the tree. The only catch was the gifts we chose couldn’t be for us, they had to be for someone else. Each gift was opened while everyone else watched. This continued until the last gift was opened.

The advent preparation helped us prepare our hearts for Christmas by studying scripture relating to God’s love for us. Slowing everything down on Christmas and reading Luke 2 before opening gifts helped my brother and me realize that the gifts came second after learning about the greatest gift we have ever received. And by focusing on giving to others, it became more of a selfless time than a selfish time.

All of these I incorporated into my own family Christmas traditions. These and watching It’s a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve and not opening a single Christmas card we receive until Christmas morning when we take turns and read them one by one. I hope this gave you some practical tools to help with your Christmas celebration.

Merry Christmas,

Jeff Brown
Family Life Pastor