We haven't got this completely sorted by any means, but here's a few ways we try to keep Jesus at the centre, and keep frantic busyness at bay:
1) Advent Devotions.
We have used a variety of advent calendars over the years which help us to remember the events around the birth of Jesus. This year we have used the Jesse Tree that I made, and this has been great fun and really helped us start the day focussed on Jesus.
|Our Jesse tree, now nearly completed.|
2) Christmas Day Service.
Getting out of the house, praising God with our church family, and hearing from God's Word is a key part of our Christmas day celebrations.
3) No Santa.
Controversial, I realise, but we have never done Santa with our children. We have stockings, we give gifts, and we love Christmas - but don't want to tell made-up stories about someone who could take the place of Jesus as the focus.
4) Special Christmas Book.
Each year, I choose a book to read aloud to the children during Advent. In the past, I have read Patricia St John's Treasures of the Snow or The Tanglewoods' Secret, or Little Pilgrim's Progress by Helen L. Taylor. This year, we have been reading The Biggest Story, a children's Bible written by Kevin DeYoung and beautifully illustrated by Don Clark.
5) Making Presents.
Each year, the children make presents for family and friends. They genuinely get a lot of pleasure from giving them out, and really helps them to focus on giving rather than receiving.
6) McDonald's on Christmas Eve.
Not civilised, but great fun for the children, and much easier for me!
7) No Christmas lists.
We buy surprises for our children. It wouldn't work for everyone, but we have had almost no conversations (ever) with our children about what they would like to get for Christmas. Of course, they are excited about presents! However, the focus isn't on what they are going to get.
8) Cutting Corners.
This will be different for different families! One year, I bought a Christmas cake, though I usually enjoy making one (and this felt like a big deal, when it really isn't!). I make a good Christmas dinner, but other meals are pretty simple so that we can all rest at Christmas.
9) Realistic Expectations.
We are really looking forward to Christmas Day. It won't, however, be perfect, whatever plans we make. Last year, my poor eldest dropped the pudding he had worked hard to make the previous day. Tears were shed, but he got over it, and we continued with the day.
10) Jesus First.
Remembering that neither Christmas, nor presents, nor family time, nor a brilliant Christmas dinner can take the place of Jesus. True joy is found in knowing our Saviour. The other stuff I good - blessings to joyfully receive as we celebrate Jesus - but should never take the place in our hearts that belongs to Jesus. And yes, I remind our children each year that however great their presents are, they will not satisfy them as only knowing Jesus can.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14