If you follow me on social media, you know that life has been crazy over the last two months. I had to unexpectedly homeschool my son after he had a serious concussion during *FLAG* football. The stress of making sure he didn’t fall behind added to the pressure and expectations of the holiday season left me burned out! I felt overwhelmed, exhausted, and I had zero energy to get ready for Christmas.
This was really strange because I LOVE Christmas! I wrote a post about how I was feeling on Instagram here.
I decided to do some thought work and really dug into why I was not feeling the joy of the season. I decided to pick some new thoughts, one of them being that I can choose to celebrate this season however I want. I get to decide what the focus is for my family.
One way I want to enjoy Christmas is to focus my mind and heart on the reason for this season: God’s lavish gift of his son to humanity. To do this, I’ve come up with five tips for keeping Christ at the center of Christmas.
My Top 5 Tips for Keeping Christ at the Center of Christmas
Tip 1: Read the Gospel of Luke (adults or teens)
One of my favorite tips is to read a chapter of Luke each day in December. This can be hard to do as a family, especially for littles. As my kids are getting older, this works better.
We pray as a family every night before bed. During December, it’s pretty simple to add this scripture reading into our routine. This year, I’m using the Message translation. It makes it easier to understand and to read aloud. Don’t want to read it yourself? Use the Bible app to have it read for you.
If you fall behind or can’t do one day DON’T STOP. Just pick back up. It’s so easy to let one or two missed days get you off track. Don’t let it. Some of those chapters get long, I’ve been known to skip a small section if kids are getting restless! They will still get so much out of it.
Tip 2: Find an Advent Devotion
There are so many Advent devotions available, and many of them are free. Whether you choose one that is daily, weekly, or the two weeks leading up to Christmas, this will put your heart and mind in the right place.
My sweet friend Casey Hilty, wrote one that is great for families. You can download it for free from her website here. She also has the cutest printable art and coloring pages available. Casey’s Advent devotion starts on December 13, and it includes a scripture and short discussion for each day.
Another free option is available on Edie Wadsworth’s Facebook page. Edie is amazing, and I’ve been in her coaching program for a year. Her Advent devotions are created to encourage women and bring a holy perspective to daily life. You can check out her page here.
Tip 3: Give to Others
When I’m feeling overwhelmed by the commercialism in Christmas, I know it’s time to give back.
If you have kids, get them involved with you. My favorite thing about serving or giving with my kids is the questions they ask. “Why are presents part of Christmas?” or “Why don’t these kids’ parents have money for presents?” My kids ask ALL the questions! It’s eye opening for them and allows me to demonstrate God’s compassion and love for people that we don’t even know.
Our favorite activity is to purchase gifts for children in need that are later distributed through our church. We make a special trip and choose items that they think the kids would enjoy. You can also participate in Operation Christmas Child, where gifts are distributed to children around the world. We did this for several years too.
Tip 4: Limit the Number of Gifts
We typically limit our kids’ presents to four things:
1. Something they Want
2. Something to Read
3. Something to Wear
4. Something to Read
This helps me manage my shopping and not go crazy buying everything on every idea list I see. It also helps manage the kids’ expectations. I have them give me a few ideas for each category, and what I don’t buy, I can share with family. I didn’t do list for the first time this year, and it was chaos. Next year, the list is coming back!
Tip 5: Make it a Point to Attend a Worship Service
Growing up, the Christmas Eve Candlelight Worship Service was my favorite part of Christmas. At the end of night, they dimmed the lights, everyone lit their candles, and we sang “Silent Night.” It was truly magical. I want my kids to grow up with that experience.
There were a few years where our schedule of Christmas gatherings meant that we didn’t have time to go to church. I’m so glad we changed that. Now, I make sure that events are scheduled around a worship time. Last year, we had c—– during the holiday season. I’m thankful we were still able to watch online.
Although none of these ideas are earth-shattering or new, I hope this a a good reminder. It’s so easy to let events and obligations rule our calendar during December.
It’s important to realize that how we think about the holidays is how we will show up. If we tell ourselves that it’s superficial and only about buying things, we will show up cynical and disappointed. If we tell ourselves that this is a time for magic, reflection, and showing God’s love to those around us, we will show up ready to give love and spread joy.