I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Friday, December 16, 2011

Keeping Christ in Christmas

Many years ago, when my husband and I were new believers, we tried to figure out what holiday celebrations should look like through a Christian worldview. We'd grown up in households where holiday traditions focused on popular secular themes, ranging from scary jack-o-lanterns to cute bunnies and their colored eggs. The Christmas season was in a class of its own, heaping with materialism, Santa, reindeer and snowmen. Now, we desired to honor the true meaning of Christmas in our home. But what did that look like?

Throughout the month of December, we emphasized Jesus' birthday and omitted Santa Claus. We read the Christmas story often. But we still had a Christmas tree and stockings. We still watched treasured holiday specials. We sang carols together and drove around looking at Christmas lights. Were we focusing enough on the Christ Child?

As I shopped in the local grocery store with my five-year-old son, Daniel, one day, I noticed an elderly man, wearing a red flannel shirt over his large, pot belly. With his full, white beard and long white hair brushing his collar, he looked like an off-duty Santa Claus. I turned down an opposite aisle, hoping to avoid what seemed like the secular epitome of Christmas.

Only Daniel spied him.

Daniel pointed. "Mommy, look." His voice laced with awe.

I searched for words to explain why this man wasn't St. Nick.

"That man," Daniel said, tugging on the leg of my jeans, "looks just like Moses."

Seems like I didn't have to worry about Santa overshadowing Jesus in our home.

Do you struggle to keep Christ in Christmas in the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, our materialistic culture? What is your favorite family Christmas tradition?

May you have a blessed Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

~Roxanne Sherwood


  1. Roxanne, what a fun story about Daniel and "Moses." :) Like you, we have sought to keep the focus on Jesus' birth, and why He came.

    We try not to get too caught up in the materialism of Christmas. We limit the gifts we give to the kids to three each. They also receive gifts from both sides of our family.

    Since moving close to my family, we take Christmas Eve for just the four of us to celebrate Christmas together. We go to the kids' favorite restaurant for lunch, read the Christmas story together, pray, thanking God for all He's give us, open gifts at our own pace (one at a time),and we enjoy Christmas Eve service as a family. Then we spend Christmas Day with my family. I like being able to take our own pace and build in memories with our kiddos.

  2. I love that story Roxanne.

    I have a story that isn't as sweet. When my daughter was about 3, we were shopping at Target and had a large, round woman as our cashier. My daughter had a loud voice (still does, we joke that God forgot the low, medium and high on her voice and she is set at high all the time) and said "Looks like Santa" - it was so one of those moments when I wanted the floor to open up and swallow me! The woman mercifully pretended not to hear her and I pretended that my daughter did not just call her Santa - ah the joys of parenting.

    Jeanne - I love your tradition of spending Christmas Eve together, quietly and slowly. I may have to start that one myself.

  3. Moses, huh? Looks like you did a good job 'cause it's not easy to ignore all the commercialism of Christmas. Love your Santa story.

    My favorite tradition is picking up my nephew and the two of us heading to Chattanooga to spend Christmas with my mom and sister.

  4. Roxanne, that's just precious!

    Chris, I'm sure it wasn't funny at the time, but it's kind of cute now!

    Jeanne, very cool ideas for slowing down Christmas. As we have our first, we are starting to think about traditions and memories we want to instill in our daughter for future years. It's important that we get off on the right foot. Great ideas!

  5. Roxanne, what a sweet story! When my youngest was little, I took out our Christmas decorations. He held a Santa in his hands for a while, then looked at me and said, "Mommy, is this Poppa?" Every time I pull out that decoration, I'm reminded of his sweet innocence.

    Jeanne, I LOVE your Christmas eve tradition. With Christmas on a Sunday this year, I may do that with our family--take it as family day--lunch or dinner, favorite holiday movie, frosting sugar cookies, games, gifts and end with Christmas eve service at church. That way, Christmas morning won't be so rushed with gifts, getting ready for church and a family get together afterwards.

    Chris, we all have those moments--even as an adult.

    Amy, you have a clean slate to start your own traditions. Very fun! Be sure to take lots of pictures as they grow soo soo fast.

  6. Jeanne, Your Christmas Eve sounds like our Christmas morning: reading the Christmas story in Luke, opening our gifts one at a time. Precious memories.

    Chris, Oh, the things our children say. Too funny. Thanks for sharing.

    Pat, I agree that the best part of Christmas is spending time with our loved ones.

    Amy, Your next Christmas is going to be so much fun!

    Lisa, They grew so fast, didn't they? It's nice to pull out those sweet memories.

    Everyone, thanks so much for your comments!

  7. Oh, I love that story, Roxanne! I love what an awesome mom you are and have been to your kids!!

    Jesus was the center of our Christmas celebration at home, too. One of my favorite Christmas traditions is the candlelight Christmas Eve service at my home church...though, to this day, I'm amazed that we never had a fire. :)

  8. Melissa, Oh, I love them too. (Scary thinking about fires, though.) We've always attended a candlelight service. When our home church didn't have one, we'd find a church that did. Steve and I are going to make a candlelight service part of "our" tradition too. Peter's at an age where he's really going to enjoy it.

    Christmas should be so fun at your house with Ollie this year!

  9. I love that story, Roxanne.
    When the visiting Ukrainian- heritage very full-bearded dad of one of my students entered our small Christian college dining room for the first time, the 8-yr.-old dtr. of one of our staff families looked up in awe and said, "Look, Mommy, Jesus came here today." Our visitor had to be very careful how he acted after that.

  10. I've heard that story before ... and I love hearing it again!
    We've created many traditions through the years, some intentional, some by accident. Some years we head out of town a few days before Christmas to sl-o-o-w life down a bit. It's a great way to refocus and catch our breath after all the busyness of Thanksgiving and all the days leading up to Christmas. When we come back home right before Christmas Eve we feel a renewed focus on the reason for Christmas -- and we're ready to celebrate our caboose kiddo's birthday too!

  11. Delores, Oh, thanks for sharing that story! Imagine a child thinking you're Jesus. Wow!

    Beth, I'd love to get away from it all for a few days right now and slow down. That sounds great!