It was interesting to read my kids essays about their ideas of the meaning of Christmas. It is nice to know that family is important to them, but I was hoping that the Birth of Our Lord and saviour would be foremost in their thoughts at Christmas time. As a family we try and focus on the true meaning of the season. We always start celebrating the Christmas season the day after Thanksgiving. In my mind the one holiday leads into the next. As we focus on thanksgiving it so only natural to think of what Christ did for us. Yes, it is easy to think on the great sacrifice at the cross, but even before that Jesus left his place a the Father's side in heaven and came down to earth as a small infant. He lived a life of a man in order that he might carry the burden of sin for all mankind to the cross and conquer death on Easter morning. OK, I got of track there. So, we start our celebrating Friday after Thanksgiving, we have a fun day of decorating the house and putting up the tree. We set out my nativity collection on the fireplace and we start talking about the birth of Christ. Then the whole month of December we focus on family baking and preparation for the getting together with family and church. The kids work on songs, poems, plays, and spelling for the the festivities. There are church programs to participate in and of course a Christmas concert with HSMA.
On Christmas Eve, we get together with my family. We spend the day celebrating the Lord's birth with songs, plays, poems, and more. Grandma loves a big program, and Grandpa (being a pastor) loves to remind us all of Christ (always saying a lovely prayer of Thanksgiving). Of course, there is the family spelling bee and lots and lots of food shared. Then we open a few presents. When it is just dark enough we load up the vans and go Christmas light watching. Then it is time to head home to bed.
Christmas morning we gather around at home and Jer reads the story of Christ's birth from Luke.
The Birth of Jesus 1In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3And everyone went to his own town to register.
4So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
The Shepherds and the Angels 8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ[a] the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
Then we have cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate as we open a few presents. No Santa comes to our house. This was a strange decision for Jer and I both. We both were raised with Santa coming. But, we are happy with our choice and it seems to not bother the kids in the least.
We enjoy the day just at home together.
Then we usually head to Indiana the following day to celebrate with Jer's family. This is an exciting time. Jer's mom is the ultimate in gift giving. It is definitely one of her Love languages, not Mine at all. So, she enjoys having presents to celebrate the holiday. Her house is small and it is full of presents from floor to ceiling for her many grand kids. Once all are passed out it isn't really too much, but it is so fun seeing this mountain of gifts and watching it be passed out. It is also fun watching my mother-in-law and sister-in-law because they really have a great time of it all.
Of course, we share a great meal together there too. So, it is easy to see why my kids say that Christmas is about family. I just hope they realize it is about the family of God.