Last year God began working in my heart about how Christmas is celebrated in our family. I took a mental inventory of all the traditions we followed: presents, Santa Claus, Christmas tree, nativity scene, Christmas cards, parties, food, 24/7 Christmas movies on cable...you name it, we were a part of it. Then, almost audibly, God asked me what separated my family’s celebration of Christmas from the celebrations of those who refuse to acknowledge Christ. Wow!
Needless to say I began to meditate on what I could do in my home to shift our focus back to Jesus Christ. One of the changes I made was actually an addition. I love to study the names of God – their meaning and the context they are used in scripture. Scott and I looked at the list of our favorite names of God, narrowed it down to twenty, or so, and I set out to make an ornament for each name. I sought out a new tree for my foyer, added rich fabric ribbon, a regal star on the top and added our new ornaments. With each name I added to the tree I turned my heart in praise to Christ for the ways He has personally been those things to me. For instance, my favorite name is El Roi, “the God Who sees me”. I am reminded that in the times I feel insignificant or ignored, God isn’t unaware of me. His eyes have me right in their sight! Our “Messiah” tree reminds us daily of the faithfulness of our God each time we arrive to or depart from our home.
After Scott’s mom passed away someone suggested to us that we light a candle during family events to remember her. That suggestion took root in my heart and caused me to set aside one particular candle for this purpose. This year I have applied that idea to Christmas. We added two candles to our mantle and one as a focal point of the nativity scene. When the candles are lit, they are a visual reminder that with the birth of Christ, the Light of the World came to dwell among us. It focuses our hearts.
One other way we are focusing our hearts this year is in the area of gifts. I believe Christmas should be celebrated BIG – decorations and all! We make birthday parties a big deal in our culture and my opinion is that Christ is worthy of the best party of all. I’ve heard a lot of religious objections lately about shopping, decorating and listening to Christmas music. I think that is throwing the baby out with the bath water. The Kavanaughs are choosing to refocus. We give gifts to others to bless them. This year, the very first gift we give will be a tangible gift to Christ. Our family will feed the homeless on Christmas Eve before we ever partake of a celebration in our comfortable home with all the provisions we could need or want. Will we give gifts to our children, family and friends? YES! Noelle Piper says, “God’s generosity is shown through God’s people". We will show generosity to others, but first and foremost we will show generosity to Christ who spared nothing to show generosity to us.
Those are just three things that help our family focus on Christ during the time of year when the world wants us to be too busy or too materialistic to focus on and honor Him. For more ideas and inspiration I recommend reading Treasuring God in Our Traditions by Noelle Piper. You will learn more ways you can help focus your family during Christmas including advent candles and advent calendars. This book goes beyond Christmas to daily traditions that will have a positive impact on your family’s spiritual growth. You can download the book for free at http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/online-books/treasuring-god-in-our-traditions.