How-To: Keep Christ in the center of Christmas
By Zelda Dominguez
There is a lot of debate whether many of the traditional customs derive from pagan roots, and as Christians should we participate in them? Nevertheless, I’ve chosen personally to center on Christ in our family Christmas traditions. Here are some quick how-to ideas that I hope may encourage you to do the same.
Christmas Card or Gift Tags
With so many instructions on Pinterest and YouTube, make your own Christmas cards and tags with the nativity, a star, a verse, or your own photos. Hand write a personal message sharing the love of Jesus to others. After Christmas, save your cards you received and put them in a basket. Everyday draw a card and read it. Then commit to pray for that family or person (you can let them know you are doing so if you like).
In the Bible, We read that gifts were brought to Jesus at his birth. Since it’s his birthday we celebrate, why not give gifts? Your gifts can be a baked or homemade item with one of the tags above, a basket filled with goodies, a CD of Christian music bought or one you make, a blanket or quilt with a tag made with love, a coupon book or a gift certificate of some service you can do, packaged cookie, soup, or hot chocolate ingredients in a jar.
Wreath and Tree
It symbolizes many things. The circle represents God as the Alpha and the Omega, the everlasting. His kingdom knows no beginning or end (Rev 1:8). Green reminds us of eternal life in Jesus and the tree itself Jesus was crucified on (John 3:16-17). Red, helps us remember his precious blood he shed for our sins (John 19:34). Gold symbolizes the kingship and royalty of Jesus and the streets of gold in heaven (Isaiah 9:6-7). White is for the purity of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). The Dove reminds us of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter (John 16:13) and lights or candle light, proclaim Jesus the Light of the world (John 8:12). Lights welcome people to your home. Put a garland of lights around your door or light the entry way up to your door with luminary bags.
Poinsettias and Holly
These bright red flowers bloom mostly during the Christmas holiday season. For some, these star-shaped bracts symbolize the Star of Bethlehem and are also called the “flower of the holy night.” According to legend, the crown of thorns was wound with holly and the white berries turned red after the crucifixion. It’s a reminder of why He came.
Many of the Christmas songs we sing were hymns. Many Christmas carols (“Away in a Manger,” “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” “Joy to the World”) tell the story of the birth of baby Jesus, expressing the hope and joy of a people who waited centuries for a promise to be fulfilled and their Messiah to come. What better way to celebrate with these worship songs.
Each day of December light the candle. Read scripture about the Christmas story. Have family time that could be at meal time or before bed. Every day burn just a little bit of the candle showing how much closer Christmas is each day. By Christmas Eve, the candle will burn down and this is special for children.
Have a gathering of friends. It can even be a Happy Birthday Jesus party or Tree Trimming party. Ask each guest to bake their favorite cookie in the amount of people attending. If ten women attend, then each make ten dozen of their certain type of cookie. At the end of the gathering, each women gets one dozen of each cookie. You end up with ten dozen various kinds of cookies that you can plate and give away to your neighbors, mailperson, teachers, etc.
It is always a reminder of Jesus Birth. Especially for kids. Get one for them that they are able to play with and touch as you tell them the story. If you only set out a manger, don’t put baby Jesus in it. Explain to the children that Jesus is the greatest gift we have received. Tell the story, and how at his birth, gifts were brought to him. Ask them what gift are they going to give him. Then each day set time to ask them what good deed did they do on their own and for each, have them put in a few pieces of straw in the manger preparing it for Jesus. On Christmas Eve when the manger is nice and full, set the baby Jesus in the manger without them seeing you. The children will learn to wake up Christmas morning and look to see if baby Jesus is there. Before opening gifts, he will be the first thing they will focus on – my children did this for many years and I know yours will love it.