As we are raising our 4 guys, we are trying to be very intentional about what we do at Christmas. I've realize that so much we do is based on tradition, but can easily be done without any meaning. Our goal is to make sure the real Reason for Christmas is what we celebrate in our home, impressing the awesomeness and significance on our children's hearts. It's not something that just happens in a culture that commercializes Christmas, that feeds the indulgences of humanity, with a passing glance at Jesus in a Christmas carol or two. As those who have already accepted that Gift, our Christmas ought to be different. It ought to mean so much more. So, we are looking for ways to celebrate Jesus on His birthday, in real, tangible, memorable ways.
A few years ago, I started making a white chocolate candy cane cheesecake (yum!) for Christmas Day, and we put candles on it, and sing "Happy Birthday to Jesus." The boys love doing it, and it's become a tradition that I hope will last throughout the future of our family. We pray that that simple way of recognizing Jesus' birthday makes an impression on the hearts of our children. Children love birthdays, even if it's not their own, and we want to encourage them to celebrate Jesus joyfully.
My Dad always read us the account of Christ's birth from the Bible, before we opened our tree. (My Mom's from Vermont, and that's the phrase they used for opening their gifts. We don't actually open up the tree!) We were never allowed to just climb under the tree and open up our gifts, like you see on commercials. We sat and watched each other as we took turns opening our gifts one by one. Now, I do the same thing with my family. I think my parents were intentional about guarding against selfishness and mateialism. (Mom also wanted to see us open everything, and take pictures, and I am the same way....I don't want to miss the joy of watching my gifts be received!) I want my boys to view gifts as acts of love, not as things they are entitled to receive. I'm reminded that the Gift of baby Jesus in that stable was not something I am entitled to. It is given out of love, completely undeserved and unearned. God wasn't obligated by cultural norms to give me that Gift. He sacrificed His only Son because He loved me beyond measure. I hope my boys will understand more and more each Christmas what love that was, that Jesus was born to die.
"From His throne Jesus came, laid aside Heaven's fame in exchange for the cross of Calvary; for my gain suffered loss, for my sin He bore the cross - He was wounded and I was set free." (Ron Hamilton)
I was inspired this past year to make birthday banners for my boys' birthdays, and they have been a hit. They boys all loved them, and they were so much fun to create, using the colors and patterns to coordinate wth their birthday themes. The boys and I thought we should have one for Jesus this year, too. Being right in our dining area of our kitchen, we see it mutlitudes of times a day, a visual reminder of the real purpose we are celebrating a holiday.
I love these patterns!
Owen wanted a picture with the "Jesus banner" as he calls it. Isn't that smile precious? I loved how excited he was to see it finished and hanging there.
I needed an extra square on the second row to make it symmetrical. So, I made a little gift out of my paper and used the ribbon that is holding the squares together to make a bow for the gift. I thought that was really fitting to be next to Jesus' name, the Gift that was given to all mankind.
I hope each year we can find more ways to celebrate Jesus' birthday.