Saturday, January 1, 2011

How we celebrate Christmas

As our kids are growing up we are finding our way into our own Christmas traditions. We always celebrate with Tony's side of the family before Christmas. And we celebrate with my side of the family on Christmas Eve. And Christmas Day is spent at my Grandma's house. Somewhere in there, we have our own family Christmas. We call it Christmas Adam because it's before Christmas Eve.
We plan a lot of thought in how we celebrate Christmas with our kids. We want them to understand the real reason for celebrating this time of year. It's not about santa, it's not about getting presents that you can unwrap. It's about celebrating Jesus' birthday.
This year to help lead us in that way of thinking, we decided to do an advent tree.
We found some ornaments and Bible stories that present a really neat way of leading us through the month of December from the creation of the world to Jesus' birth. It really did an excellent job of showing us each day that since the creation of the world, we need a savior! Each Old Testament story pointed out how God promised us a savior and he was coming (which is what advent means)! I could really feel the anticipation each night and joy of what it must have been like for those who actually lived in those times to wait for and finally see their savior! And then what a celebration to have on Christmas day when he at last arrived!

Then just as the wise men brought him their best as a gift, we talk about what gifts we could give Jesus on his birthday. He asks us in the Bible to love others, to obey him, to help the needy, the poor, and that when we do those things we are doing them unto him.

Matthew 25:34-40
34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

So instead of everybody getting everybody a present and spending lots of money on each other, each year we pick out one family in need and give them a generous gift according to how the Lord has blessed us that year.

Then one at a time we tell each kid that just as the shepherds and angels and wise men honored Jesus at his birth we would like to honor them with a small gift. Tony prepares a letter for each of us (my favorite part.)

Here's his letter to Evan:
"Finally be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might." - Ephesians 6:10

Wow! 9! I was just thinking today about when you were Isaiah's age. You have grown much and in many ways.
I am thankful to God that you are kind young man and a good friend to those who don't have many friends. Jesus was mad fun of because he was a friend to gluttons, drunkards, tax collectors and sinners. I'm glad you are a friend to many.
I pray that as you grow in strength, you will be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. He will give you everything you need. No one else can promise you that!
I love you Evan!
love, daddy
And Addie:
"A gentle tongue is a tree of life..." - Proverbs 15:4
What a gentle girl you are! You are also very kind and generous. You are also very willing to share with others. I love the presents and cards you make for us and your friends. You are a good example to the rest of us!
I pray your gentle spirit and words would be a tree of life to all around you. May God use you to bring life and light to all those around you!
I love you Addie!
love, daddy
And Isaiah:

"And before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him..." - II Kings 20:4

This is the year where you found your voice! I enjoy hearing you share your "tories" (that would be "stories"!) This has been a fun change to watch this past year. One fun thing that hasn't changed is the affection you show to those you love. Your hugs and kisses are much loved!
While it will be a few years before you can read, I pray that God will give you a heart for His Word, and a desire to proclaim His Word, so that, you may be kept from sin, and God would use you to keep others from sin.

I love you, Isaiah!
love, daddy
Then they each open their one small gift from the family to them. Evan received a snowboard, Addie got a new doll, and Isaiah got the play barn.

I'm sure our Christmas traditions will continue to grow and change, but I'm enjoying the start that we have made.


Grandma G said...

What a beautiful way to teach the truth of Christmas to your children! And those letters will be treasures for years to come!

Brea said...

Thank you for sharing your "tradition". I love it. And I love the Advent Tree. And tell Isaiah that I was hoping I could play with the Barn too sometime.

Mom Judy said...

This is a wonderful family tradition. It is very memorable and what a great way to teach your kids about the real meaning of Christmas. It also renews the spirit of giving in your own life. Thanks for sharing!

Grandma Carol said...

Allen and I are so thankful to God for the way you are training our Grandchildren in the wisdom and knowledge of Him. What a Godly example you are of Christian parents.

Homemaker Honey said...

Hi! If you or any of your readers are looking for ways to celebrate advent, I make Jesse Tree Ornaments. I'd love for you to have a look.

Homemaker Honey
homemakerhoney @gmail .com