What do you remember about your childhood Christmas celebrations? How do you want your kids to answer that question someday? If you’re like me, you don’t tend to remember the gifts you were given as much as the special moments. One of my great regrets with my kids is that our Christmas season was often too crowded with everyone else’s agendas rather than the one we set for our family. Jim and I tried to attend everything we thought we should, which meant we were gone from our kids more often than we wished.
The preacher and his wife are supposed to be at every music program of the church and celebrate with the men’s and women’s Bible studies and the various service groups. There are usually a few community events that asked for something as well. It took some strategic planning to make sure we could share Christmas as a family. Eventually, I decided to look at the holiday with a larger perspective. I remember thinking that, twenty years from now, the people who would be most important to me should also be most important to me now. That is when I started to say no a little more often.
Everyone has a lot to do during December, but we probably don’t have to do it all. Before your calendar gets too full, it’s good to consider this year’s holiday with a 2030 perspective. Twelve years from now, what will you and your kids talk about and laugh about when remembering Christmas? That answer should impact your Christmas planning this year. You have an entire month to celebrate. There is plenty of time to make sure this Christmas creates some great memories for the future.
Here are a couple of calendar hints:
• Have a full view of your December calendar. (I suggest an old-fashioned paper calendar page for this!) If you live with a daily or weekly view, you could end up having a chaotic Christmas. Enter your “have to attend” events in red. These are the school and/or church performances your kids are part of, the annual parties everyone attends, and the family celebrations you don’t want to miss.
• Now, look at the blank spots and fill in the family times you want to protect. I suggest you put a line through the entire week between Christmas and New Year’s and make it mostly about family fun. (Jim started taking off the Sunday after Christmas and it changed our lives!) Plan a trip or just plan to stay local and enjoy spending time together. But prepare your kids, especially the older ones, and inform them that week belongs mostly to your family. It’s good to be flexible, but it’s also important to tell them that you are hoping they will value the family time too.
What do you love most about the Christmas holiday? Christmas is a season when the world seems willing to share our values, or at least consider their importance. Christians value faith, family, generosity, kindness, joy, peace, and caring about others. The world is watching our celebrations, our priorities, and our values. Your Christmas celebration may be the best witness opportunity of the entire year! What will your family do together this year that will share your witness with others?
The kids are excited, and every day you will teach them how to celebrate the season. Younger kids might center the holiday around what’s under the tree. It’s good to remind them at some point, “It’s not your birthday.” All kids get that concept! It is good to give to one another, but it is really fun to give away what we can to others. How do you help your kids learn the value and joy of generosity?
An older lady told me something one year that made me sad at the time. I had just given birth to our first son, and she said, “Enjoy these coming Christmas seasons. They are the best you will ever have.” I remember feeling sorry for her that she felt that way. Now, I am that older woman, and I would echo her words to all of you.
I love Christmas and I always have. I am looking forward to welcoming our new grandson into the family in a couple of weeks. I’m excited to spend time with everyone around the Christmas holiday. But, when I think of those sweet Christmas mornings with my excited little boys, I imagine those memories will always be my favorites. They should be. Christmas is mostly for our kids. I wonder if that is why Jesus chose to enter the world as a child.
I want to encourage all of you to protect your holiday season and schedule out some of the crazy so you can create a better Christmas for yourselves and your families. Looking back, I wish I had focused more time on my boys and less on everyone else. At the same time, I’m grateful for the times we did say no and stayed home to enjoy Christmas evenings as a family.
How old will your kids be in 2030? What will you do this year that they will still be talking about then?
I’d love for you to share your favorite memories, calendar suggestions, and Christmas ideas with one another. You are raising an important generation of children who will live with the Christmas values they are learning from you. What are your favorite family memories and Christmas traditions each year? Check out our Facebook page or Instagram and share some fresh ideas others might want to use.
The shepherds were going about their normal lives when the night sky was suddenly bright. The angel said, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10–11). Our normal lives are interrupted by Christmas as well. But aren’t we glad? Christmas is good news and great joy. I wish you a “shepherd’s Christmas” this year. Don’t hesitate to step away from your “normal” so that you can find Jesus. Trust me, Christmas 2030 is right around the corner, and your family will be glad you did!