*This guest post is brought to you by Christie Thomas, mom and blogger at Wise for Salvation. I “met” Christie as a fellow MOB Society writer, and have been touched by her heart for teaching children the Word of God. She’s also a published author of a book of devotions for children that I have been enjoying using! I welcome her to my blog today!!
One year, my 5 year old son announced, “Mom, Christmas really is about the presents…” I cocked my head and looked at him, wondering if there was more to his announcement, “…because God gave us Jesus!” I let out my breath in a sigh. I hadn’t even noticed I was holding it in, but there it was, waiting for my little man’s decision about the season.
I had tried really hard to show my boys that there is more to Christmas than presents and cookies and Santa and songs, and was relieved that at least a bit of my teaching had sunk in.
Christmas can be a very confusing time for Christian parents. We want to join in all the fun with elves on shelves and hanging out stockings and putting out cookies for the man with the gifts, and somehow the nativity story just doesn’t seem as glossy and exciting. It doesn’t come with packages and bows, flying animals, or yule logs. But it does have unexpected angelic visitors, moving stars, and elegant gifts for a baby King!
Part of what makes Christmas exciting is the traditions: caroling, eating turkey dinners, wearing handmade sweaters, drinking hot chocolate by the fire, finding the biggest Christmas tree…they all have a special place in our hearts because we started those traditions in childhood!
So, what if we start some of our own traditions? Could we create some traditions that serve the dual purpose of being fun and faith-based? The Christ part of Christmas doesn’t have to be boring! We can make new Christmas traditions that are full of joy and laughter and have extraordinary magic because of their eternal basis.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve worked hard to create some Christ-centered traditions with my family that we can use all throughout Advent. A full list of recommended ideas can be found on my blog, but here are the five that I’m going to focus on this year!
1) Wise men “on a shelf”
This year I bought a set of wise men, and we are going to play a game with them throughout Advent, a game like the “Elf on a Shelf”. They may be found romping in a dumped bag of flour, poring over a map, or stuck in the coffee pot..who knows what kind of misadventures these guys may have! The whole time, they will be trying to find their way to the newborn King. I think we’ll have a real celebration when they arrive, and it will be a good reminder that there is joy in the journey of pursuing Jesus!
If you’d like to follow the escapades of my wise men, follow me on Instagram! If you plan to join in the fun, tag me (christie_wiseforsalvation) and use the hashtag #wisemenhunt!
2) Christmas book advent calendar
I just counted – we actually have over 20 Christmas children’s books in our home…and that’s only the Nativity ones! This year, we’re going to unwrap a bit of Jesus every day. I’ll wrap all the books up (thanks to Costco for having their wrapping paper out already!) and each day of December we’ll unwrap a special story! As an added bonus, this will keep me from reading the super repetitive ones multiple times every day…because we’ll unwrap those ones on the 24th!
3) Lighting advent candles
When I was in university, I tried creating my own Advent wreath tradition with my parents and sister. I’m not sure why, but we didn’t recreate it the following year (possibly because of the atrocious wreath I made). But the longing for something deeper at Christmas persisted, so when I had my own children we started our own advent candle tradition.
Originally a Lutheran tradition, the Advent wreath with its candles have been brought into other denominations because of its simple beauty. The candles in the wreath are lit once a week, usually on Sundays, starting four weekends before Christmas. The last candle is lit on Christmas Eve. Each candle means something, and each has a Bible reading involved.
This year, Advent begins on November 27, so it’s not too late for you to try this in your own family! The best part of this tradition is its low time commitment; almost anyone can remember to light a candle and do a reading once per week! For more information about how to set up a wreath and download my child-friendly readings, check out this post on my blog.
4) Celebrate Jesus with a birthday party!
In my family we often do a little birthday party for Jesus on Christmas Day. This year, we’re going to use Julie’s suggestions for an Advent Birthday Party for Jesus for a little extra pizzazz!
5) Doing our annual Christmas bedtime devotions
Every year we do these very simple, but fun, bedtime devotions with our boys. They only take about 5 minutes but are delightful and satisfying, and our boys enjoy them each time we use them! This year I am giving them away free to subscribers of my blog! Click over and snag your copy today!
When my middle son was 3, he encountered the Christmas story for the first time in his memory. When we visited my in-laws at the beginning of December, he paid no heed to the beautiful creche they had displayed. During his next visit three weeks later, he very excitedly told me, “Grandma and Grandpa have a stable!” Somewhere in those intervening three weeks, something had clicked and the birth of Jesus had become extraordinary and magical to him. I pray that your children will have a similar experience this year!
BIO: Christie Thomas is a wife, mom of 3 boys, Children’s Ministry leader, and writer. Her favorite things at Christmas are her hot water bottle and the smell of a Christmas tree. She blogs about cultivating authentic faith in the home at wiseforsalvation.com, and her book Wise for Salvation: Meaningful Devotions for Families with Little Ones is available on Amazon. (affiliate link)