Thursday, October 22, 2009

Treasuring God in Our Traditions (8) - Christmas

Noel Piper's thoughts on Christmas and Easter have probably been the most helpful for me practically. Her chapter on Christmas (ch. 8) heavily influenced Dave and me when we first became parents, as we tried to work out whether to include Santa Claus in our Christmas celebrations.

What I also appreciated about this chapter was included so many positive examples of how to celebrate Christmas in a way that focuses on Jesus' birth. I didn't get the sense that they had simply said 'no Santa' and then left it at that. They filled the vacuum with meaningful traditions. I didn't get the sense that her family have 'missed out' because they have chosen to do things differently.

I haven't followed all the Piper family traditions (I've given the candles a miss for example!), but our family have adopted a few over the years. The one that I have probably found most helpful is the idea of having an Advent calendar and using it to teach our kids in a fun way. We have a Bible readings in each pocket as well as something extra (like a lolly or balloon or sticker). It's a fun way of 'counting down' to December 25 in a way that places the focus on the story of Jesus' birth, rather than on a slowly-growing pile of presents accumulating under the tree.

I've written about other Christmas traditions we have implemented, (as well as others we've observed) at my blog if you're interested in more ideas:

Christ-focussed traditions

Evangelistic traditions

Generous traditions

Fun traditions

I'd love to hear what you do as a family, or what your family did when you were growing up. What's worked? What hasn't? What would you keep? What would you change?


Anonymous said...

Hi Nicole,
We have tried to put the focus on Christ (not easy when society is inundated with catalogues and ads etc.) We have a series of 3 children's books by Arnold Ytreeide with the protagonists being children who lived at the time Jesus was born and their adventures. There is a chapter for each day of Advent. We read one book each year and cycle through them. Our kids are now, 14,11,8 and 5 and really enjoy them. They have been out-of-print for awhile but I believe they have been reprinted although are still difficult to track down. Probably a little intense for really young children but we have been reading them for 7 or 8 years and not had a problem.

We also have special devotions each day and try to have some special family traditions as well. Including things like berry picking!

As our children get older I have found that it is necessary to be even more intentional in what we do and the focus we put on Christmas.


Nicole said...

Hi Jenny,

Thanks for these great suggestions - those children's books sound great!

Helen Etherington said...

Hi Nicole..thanks for sharing what you do in your family.
We like to make a birthday cake for Jesus and sing Happy Birthday to Him.
We spoil our children on their own birthdays, but just buy one family present to share at christmas, no other year their combined Christmas present was a trampoline, another year a blow up boat with oars.
We like to do the Christmas in a Shoebox for overseas underpriviledged children fill a shoebox with small brand new items and also some of their favourite bible verses and a photo of themselves.
We have always included ""Santa"" stockings at home, ...but with a strong emphasis on the original story where a kindly old man wanted to show some poor children how much God loved them because he too felt loved by God and compelled to help the poor around my kids always get a gold chocolate coin in the bottom of their stocking, like the old man did for the poor children...occassionally over the years we've added extra hand made presents, but try to keep it simple.
One year when the kids were quite young, we gave them all brand new school uniforms and back packs , and explained that education is a gift that not every child gets a chance at. We only did this when they were young...not entirely sure what there response would be these days, as they are older! I do like to hope they would be grateful!
There are many other things we singing christmas carols as we decorate the tree together on the 1st December each year....reading the christmas story together on the lounge...but there are too many to recount here!
Merry Christmas everyone...remeber Jesus is the reason 4 the season!

Nicole said...

Hi Helen,

Thanks for sharing your traditions with us too - I find it so helpful reading what others have done. I especially love the way you have thought about the actual presents you give too - I think I want to do a bit more thinking about that!

Anonymous said...

Hi Nicole,

We did an Advent tree (Jesse tree as described in Barbara and Kent Hughes' Commonsense Parenting') for the first time last year. We really enjoyed the focus on Jesus as we worked our way through December. I am thinking of translating it and handing it out to families at church this year, to get people thinking differently. We made little ornaments out of FIMO and when that ran out, of a modelling material that we could paint. We're looking forward to getting them out again this year.

I liked Helen' thoughtfulness about gifts too. The books that Jenny suggested are available online, so I'm thinking of ordering one for this year.