Finding treasure at Christmastime

Written by Celeste Zuch
Published on December 11, 2020

The clothes were all selected and laid out on the floor of my closet. 

The color scheme was navy and white, which would match perfectly with the beach as our backdrop. 

I had spent a good bit of time on Pinterest searching for the perfect pose: two parents and four teenage children hovered together, smiling and laughing as the ocean breeze blew through our hair. 

The photographer was scheduled, and our Christmas card photo would be taken on our favorite beach during the Thanksgiving holiday. 

And then, with one simple word, my plans were botched. 

POSITIVE. 

Normally the word positive is a good thing, but not when it is attached to a COVID-19 test result. In order to go to our favorite beach, we all had to get tested. 

Five results came back negative, but one was positive.    

The year we learned to hold everything loosely  

Honestly, in any other year I would have broken down in tears and maybe even been mad at the positive culprit, but this is 2020. This year I have learned to hold everything loosely because you never know when it will slip out of your hands.  

I made myself a cup of tea and sat down to regroup. 

Not only did this spoil my Christmas card idea, but it also canceled my much-needed vacation. 

Plus, it put my entire family on quarantine for two weeks, forcing my kids to do school remotely and miss basketball practices and games. 

The secular and the holy 

Then I remembered the words that Jesus spoke during the Sermon on the Mount: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19–21 NIV). 

There is no better time than Christmas to reevaluate which treasures we are actually storing. For years, I have felt the tension at this time of year between the secular, or “treasures on earth,” and the holy, or “treasures in heaven.”  

Christmas 2020 will be a lot different for all Americans and many of our friends around the globe. 

We will be forced to prune a lot of the “treasures on earth” that we normally experience this time of year. There will be less emphasis on presents as bank accounts have shrunk and shoppers are wary of hitting the malls. There will be far fewer holiday parties, if there are any parties at all. Even our kids’ sporting events, that often compete for our time throughout December, are starting to get canceled as COVID numbers rise. 

The silver lining 

The silver lining of Christmas 2020 is that this year we have been given the gift of time and simplicity. 

I have heard that the word busy stands for Being Under Satan’s Yoke, and I don’t believe any time of year is busier than Christmas. Satan dials it up during the month of December to keep us from focusing on our “treasures in heaven.” 

However, this year Satan won’t have that tool. 

Storing up treasures in heaven 

So, what did Jesus mean when he said, “Store up treasures in heaven,” and how can we, as Christian parents, make the most of this unique Christmas season? 

I reached out to several friends all over the country to get some ideas. 

Our most obvious treasure in heaven is Jesus himself, and this is the time of year we celebrate his birth. It’s important for us to emphasize to our children that presents are nice, but, just like Jesus said, they can be destroyed or stolen. 

God’s gift of his only Son can never be taken away from us, not even during a global pandemic. 

The Holy Spirit is also a gift from God who can never be taken away. With the Holy Spirit, we receive gifts all year round that the Apostle Paul outlined for us in his letter to the Galatians: “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23 NIV). 

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been in need of an extra dose of the fruit of the spirit during 2020. 

In order to turn the focus on Jesus and fan the flames of the Holy Spirit in yourself and in your kids, consider implementing a quiet time each day to discuss God’s word. You can do that through a family Advent book, daily devotion book, or a daily Bible verse. 

There is a plethora of printed materials and online resources. 

For example, my friend Jenny and her family read one of the books in Arnold Ytreeide’s Advent trilogy, such as Jotham’s Journey, every year. As my children have gotten older, my family has especially enjoyed Dean Meador Smith’s book, The Advent Jesse Tree. Even if you didn’t start reading at the beginning of Advent, don’t be discouraged. You can always read through the celebration of Epiphany. 

Sharing your earthly treasures 

A great way to store up treasures in heaven is to share your treasures on earth. The elderly in nursing homes have been especially affected by the pandemic. Consider making homemade Christmas cards with your children to drop off at a nursing home or assisted living facility.  

Early in the pandemic, we found that it is easy to play bingo over Zoom. Share your gift of time by playing with those who aren’t able to get out, like friends with underlying conditions and grandparents. I even found some fun Christmas-themed bingo games to purchase online. My favorite has Jesus in the “free spot.”  

My friend Lea’s family likes not only to donate money to charities like Samaritan’s Purse but also to make their own goodie bags to give to kids who may be less fortunate. Last year they handed them out to kids as they got off of the school bus, which brought big smiles not only to the recipients but to her kids as well. The smiles will still be there. They will just be hidden by masks this year. 

Years ago, a friend shared a December tradition that her family especially enjoys. They purchase several one-dollar gift cards to McDonald’s and keep them in the car. They also make pocket-sized Bible verse cards. When they come to a stoplight and someone is on the side of the road asking for money, they look them in the eye, give some gift cards and a Bible verse, and say “Merry Christmas.” 

Treasure can be found under our own roof 

Each year as they gather to celebrate Christmas, the eldest member in my friend Vicki’s family writes individual, personal Scriptures for each family member. She said that they each read their Scripture aloud and “sometimes it engenders conversation, sometimes it bears witness, but it always blesses.” 

My friend Julie’s fondest memory of Christmas as a child was participating in the annual Christmas Eve nativity play at her church. I’m afraid that many of us will be spending Christmas Eve at home this year, but how meaningful would it be to stage your own nativity play with your children? 

I did this when my children were young, and they loved it. Purchase some scrap material for the shepherd’s robes and find sticks to serve as crooks. Find wings online or at a costume store for the angel, and a baby doll will work just fine as Jesus. 

The entire play is already written for you—just open your Bible to Luke 2:1–20. 

This year’s Christmas card 

During my COVID quarantine, I prepared and implemented some of the great ideas my friends shared. I also decided to go ahead and finish my 2020 Christmas card. 

This year I decided to put our favorite treasure on the front of the card: Christ himself. 

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Celeste Zuch

Celeste Zuch and her husband, Kurt, reside in Dallas, Texas, and have four teenage children: Kaki, Alexander, Andrew, and Connor. She enjoys writing and teaching Bible studies for youth, married couples, and women. Celeste is currently an Advisory Board member for Christian Parenting. While living in Atlanta, she served on the Executive Board for Women’s Community Bible Study (WCBS), a group of nearly five hundred women who meet weekly to study God’s Word. For many years, she has shared God’s Word with children in confirmation and Sunday school classes. Celeste is also passionate about education and serves on the Advisory Board of the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, exercising, and, most of all, spending time with her family.

Read more about Celeste

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