7 Simple & effective ways to keep your family focused on Jesus
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From the beginning of our parenthood journey, my husband and I have worked to share our faith with our children. And Christmas is an important season for Christianity. We want our children to enjoy the fun of Christmas, but we also want them to understand what and Who we are ultimately celebrating. Throughout the past 13 years, we’ve come up with a few ways to keep Christ in Christmas that are both simple and effective.
1. Read a Christmas devotion book together throughout December.
When my daughter was a preschooler, our church passed out free family devotions for Advent. It wasn’t something we had done as a family before, but we decided to give it a try. On the first night we did so, our daughter cheered.
Family Christmas devotion time during December has worked its way into our routine. When we had some trouble finding devotion books that we really enjoyed, were age appropriate and didn’t take a super long time, I decided to put together my own. I now have two versions of “A Family Christmas: 25 Days of 5-Minute Family Christmas Devotions.” Volume one is for younger children (preschool through early elementary), and volume two is geared toward tweens and teens. My kids are 9 and 13, so we are using volume two again this year.
Reading through the Christmas devotion book together takes us through the Christmas story and gets us talking about how it can apply to our lives today. Just a few minutes each evening makes a big difference to help our family keep Christ in Christmas.
[You can find both volumes of “A Family Christmas: 25 Days of 5-Minute Family Christmas Devotions” for sale on Amazon in print and for Kindle. They are also part of Kindle Unlimited. Both versions for younger children and older children are also for sale in PDF format in the Families with Grace Etsy store.]
2. Include Jesus in secular traditions.
Our family believes in Santa Claus and uses a visiting Elf in a positive way. But we also incorporate Jesus into those traditions. For example, Santa Claus leaves a letter for the children each year to find on Christmas morning. And he always mentions the importance of remembering the real meaning of Christmas. The Elf also reminds them in different ways to keep Jesus the focus of Christmas as well.
Both Santa and the Elf compliment our kids for kind things they do and how they keep Christ in Christmas. It’s a simple way to help tie the more secular traditions with our faith.
3. Read the Christmas story together.
When our kids were little, we found the best way to read the Christmas story together was one verse or so at a time. In fact, you can find a free printable version of Bible verses for Dec. 1 through 25 in this post. We would usually print the verses, cut them apart and then number and attach a verse to each of the Christmas books we wrap for our kids to open throughout December.
One of the bonuses of doing one verse at a time is that each evening, we would ask the kids what happened previously in the Christmas story. That helps ingrain the story firmly in their minds. In fact, even now with using the devotion book, we still do this since its verses lead us through the Christmas story as well.
4. Talk about the true meaning of Christmas.
You don’t have to give your children sermons or lectures about the true meaning of Christmas. But mention it in small ways when it comes up. For example, we have watched Christmas movies or shows as a family when the characters reference the real meaning of Christmas being time with family or something. We will ask our children what the actual true meaning of Christmas is. Or we mention the other stuff is great, but Jesus’ birth is the true meaning.
Our children are exposed to secular culture in a variety of ways. I like finding ways to help them learn how to navigate the world around them within their faith view. And this is something that works well at Christmastime.
5. Set up a nativity scene.
Whether you use a toy nativity scene or a decorative one, a nativity scene at Christmas helps your family keep Christ in Christmas. We’ve never had a toy one. Instead, I have the one my family had when I was a child as well as one from my maternal grandmother. We set up one downstairs and one upstairs.
My kids love setting up the nativity scenes. We’ve had many years of having a nativity scene that doesn’t look like I necessarily envision, but I don’t mind. What I have really enjoyed is hearing the kids as they were younger playing with the nativity scene as they moved it around. Learning about Jesus’ birth definitely doesn’t have to be all serious!
6. Listen to Christian Christmas music.
Music is a big part of my life and my worship. So listening to Christian Christmas music just fits right in. But, I will be honest in saying that I don’t usually enjoy the Christmas music played on contemporary Christian stations. It tends to all be slow and emotional. So, I have my own playlists. And some secular artists have their own renditions of Christmas carols talking about the birth of Jesus.
Our family doesn’t listen to only Christian Christmas music, but it definitely is part of our December. I always kick off the Christmas music season with my favorite Christmas album by 4Him, “A Season of Love,” that was released way back in 1997.
7. Read faith-centered Christmas books.
One of our family’s Christmas traditions is opening a Christmas book each evening Dec. 1 through 24. We have a wide array of books from traditional secular Christmas stories to silly ones to faith-based ones. We enjoy “The Animals’ Christmas Eve,” which tells the story of Jesus’ birth from the animals in the manger. Another great one is “God Gave Us Christmas” from Lisa Tawn Bergren. (I love the entire “God Gave Us” series from her!)