Christmas is such a beautiful time of year. Family, friends, and neighbors are welcomed into our homes with loving arms as we anticipate the birth of Christ. He is the reason for the season, and we need to be sure to celebrate his birth appropriately. Unfortunately, many of us Christians are only concerned with the material side of Christmas. We get caught up in the hustle and bustle of sales and deadlines and so forget why this month is so important.
Ways to Celebrate
As children, we eagerly await Christmas morn, with all its glamour and glitter beneath the tree. The tearing open of presents along with squeals of delight from the children warms my heart. These memories are precious and few. But are we doing all we can to celebrate Jesus’s birth? Are we teaching them that He is why we celebrate this glorious day? I have started to focus on giving my children daily reminders all during the month of December about why Christmas is special, and what we should actually be focusing on besides our wish lists. Here are a few I have gone over with them this month so far:
- Advent. While we have had an Advent wreath in the past, we were terrible at keeping schedule and having prayer time each evening. My children range in ages from nineteen to two years old. While my teens certainly understand much more about Christmas since they attended Catholic school, my younger ones still need to be taught to put prayer and selflessness first. My ten-year-old son likes to read from an Advent reflection during the lighting of the candle. This past Sunday evening, we talked about how difficult Mary and Joseph’s trip must have been while they sought a place for Mary to safely give birth. We discussed how excited and perhaps nervous Mary may have been that night, and how brave she was to accept such a gift from God.
- Giving. My children love to receive gifts, of course! I have also found that children really do enjoy the gift of giving. I have noticed that if we offer charity in some way to those in need, they begin to think of others more often. They think about helping others before we even mention it. I truly believe that this is a character trait that portrays the image of God, something my sons are quite concerned about. Singing at a nursing home, making handmade ornaments for neighbors, or perhaps helping with a meal are all ways we have given back. These activities do not require large sums of money, thankfully. It also helps us think creatively!
Christ. He is the reason for the season. Many times children are caught up in the materialistic side of Christmas. If you think about it, it is quite appalling that Christmas has become a huge retail holiday. It overshadows the joy of Christmas by making us stress out about gifts, parties, and too much food. We sometimes become so agitated that we dread Christmas day. The fear of disappointing someone, hurting someone’s feelings, or undercooking the turkey can take away from what God intended us to celebrate: the birth of His Son.
If you do encounter one of these scenarios (and you probably will), remember to stop and think about what God wants from us during Christmas. Love, togetherness, and rejoicing are the things He wants from us! Slow down and take in what is around you. Attend Mass and rediscover the glory of the season. Go to confession during Advent and cleanse your soul from the burdens you carry. We cannot please everyone all the time, but we can surely try to please God. Have a Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year!