The first Christmas my parents attended church together was a Christmas to Remember.
I grew up in what, at the time, was called a “multi-faith” family. My mother was Catholic, my father Lutheran. Because of their religious differences, we didn’t attend church together as a family. The exception was one Christmas Eve when I had a part in the children’s Christmas program at my father’s church. I remember the warmth that encircled my heart as I looked out from the stage dressed as an angel and recited the lines from Luke:
“Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”
My mother and father smiled at me from the pew.
After the program we returned home to open Christmas presents. Mom and Dad had gone to a lot of trouble and expense to provide gifts for us kids, but it was their joint attendance at the Christmas Eve pageant that meant the most to me.
I’m a grandmother now. My grandchildren live a far distance from me and we don’t spend Christmas together, therefore my gifts to them are delivered by mail. They’re older, and a little harder to buy for, so the past few years I’ve resorted to sending them gift cards. I’ve decided to stop that practice, beginning with this Christmas. I’m making their gifts this year, and writing them letters to share my thoughts on the Lord’s birth.
I pray my handmade gifts will mean more to my grandchildren than a department store gift card. If not now, then perhaps in the future when they reflect on Christmases past they’ll remember with fondness their handmade gifts from “Nana” and, more importantly, my sharing of the true meaning of Christmas.
The choices we make regarding the celebration of Christmas will have a lasting impact on our children. Some traditions they’ll hold tight to, others they’ll discard. Shouldn’t we carefully consider, then, what we want our kids to remember about Christmas? What we want them to hold tight to? What we want to warm their hearts this year, and in the years to come?
God instructs us in Deuteronomy 11:18-19 (NIV):
“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
What better time to teach our children about God than at Christmas? We don’t have to do away with more secular family traditions to get our point across. In fact, they can become part of the lesson. Here are just a few ideas:
- While we’re making special Christmas treats, we can talk about the One who came to satisfy our spiritual hunger.
- As we trim the tree we can teach our kids about another tree – the tree on Calvary where our Savior gave His life to pay for our sins.
- When we open our gifts, we can take a moment to thank God for the gift of Jesus. The greatest gift of all.
I’m sure you have some ideas of your own. How do you plan to make this A Christmas to Remember?