As children, Christmas often seems magical and like it takes seemingly forever to arrive. As adults, Christmas often seems to arrive too quickly, accompanied by business and stress that threaten to overwhelm us. How do we recapture the wonder of Christmas? How do we escape the pressure to make each year a “Christmas to remember” and get back to truly enjoying the Christmas season?
The Wonder of Christmas
We can’t recapture the wonder of Christmas without first and foremost remembering why we celebrate Christmas. The world has done a tremendous job of co-opting Christmas and making it a season of parties, family time, and good deeds. Christmas has become so noisy that it is easy for the real reason we celebrate to accidentally become an add-on; something we tell our children about because we’re supposed to do so.
How to enjoy Christmas? By remembering that at its core, Christmas is about celebrating the birth of a child; God come to earth – both fully God and fully human. Over two thousand years ago, the world forever changed.
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” Isaiah 7:14 ESV
Emmanuel – God With Us
For the thousands of years between creation and Christ’s birth, ordinary people like you and me looked forward to the coming of the promised Messiah. The one who would take away their sins. After centuries of waiting, the Promised One came.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
This is the core of Christmas! Emmanuel means “God with us” and perfectly captures the wonder of Christmas. Jesus, the Son of God, humbled himself and came to earth as a baby who was both fully divine and fully human. He went on to be the only one ever to fully keep the law God gave to Moses in the Old Testament. This law is impossible for any of us to keep; its purpose is to point us to our need for a Messiah, a savior.
Jesus Christ is this Messiah. His coming fulfilled over 300 promises about the Messiah given by God in the Old Testament. His coming forever changed the world. As a result of his sinless life and death in our place on the cross, those who believe in Christ are able to stand before God covered in Christ’s righteousness, fully forgiven for our sins and viewed as spotless by God. We are no longer destined for eternal separation from God due to our sins but rather are fully embraced as sons and daughters, bound for glory and eternal worship of our God.
This is the true wonder of Christmas!
A Very Busy Christmas
As I said earlier, the world has done an excellent job at covering up the real reason we celebrate Christmas with activities that are good, even great in many cases, but are still not the real reason for Christmas.
As society becomes increasingly secular, the celebration of Christ’s birth becomes increasingly marginalized by society as a whole. Starting in October, we are bombarded with the secular version of Christmas: gifts, family gatherings, sugar cookies, ginger bread houses, and cheesy Christmas movies.
Our schedules fill up before we know it with class Christmas parties, family gatherings, cookie exchanges, and outings to the Nutcracker and visit Santa.
We also have gifts to purchase, cards to mail, cookies to bake and homes to decorate. Many of us also try to make sure that Christ stays at the forefront of our celebrations with advent wreaths and calendars, Jesse trees, and family devotions.
Whew! No wonder it is so easy for moms to feel burned out by the time Christmas day arrives. Many of us have been going non-stop for over a month by then.
What is the answer?
Blocking Out The Noise
If there was one specific formula, I would gladly share! However, there is no one right way to recapture the wonder of Christmas, the celebration of Christ’s birth.
None of the things mentioned above are bad, not at all! The key is keeping Christ first and foremost. If we get so busy that celebrating the coming of Christ feels like an afterthought, it is time to re-evaluate our calendars and keep what is most important to us and let the rest go.
If we feel so rushed and stressed that we can’t wait for the Christmas season to be over so we can rest, it is time to re-evaluate.
Because mom guilt is real, I feel it is important to mention that what works for your family will be unique to you. We are all wired differently. Some of us thrive when our schedules are busy with people-filled gatherings. For women these same gatherings feel like work. Some moms find that decorating a living room worthy of Southern Living comes naturally and is very enjoyable. For other women, that just isn’t their thing.
Mama, please don’t feel pressure to keep up with what all the hype tells you that you need to do in order to give your kids a great Christmas. We are all wired differently and it is okay that we thrive in different ways.
Pressure To Do The “Right” Things
Many Christian moms feel pressure to do the “right” things to keep Christ as the center of Christmas. Some common things we do to teach our children the true meaning of Christmas are Advent wreaths, Jesse Trees, Christmas plays, and special family devotions among other activities.
These activities are good and can be very helpful, but if you are doing them just because they seem like the right thing to do – it may be time to step back and re-evaluate your heart. Are you doing them to celebrate Christ or because you feel like you are supposed to and want to check them off your list?
Recapturing The Wonder of Christmas
Celebrating the true wonder of Christmas, Christ come to earth, doesn’t require you to be stressed or harried. It is finding what keeps your mind and heart fixed on the true reason for the season. If something helps you or your children celebrate the Savior, by all means keep it a part of your Christmas celebration.
Talk to your kids, engage their minds and their hearts as you navigate the Christmas season. Discuss why we celebrate, talk about Christ’s work on behalf of believers, and help your children put the trappings that often come with 21st century Christmas celebrations into their appropriate place.
The wonder of Christmas, the true wonder, is the miracle of God becoming man. Christ coming to earth to dwell among us and ultimately dying a death He did not deserve for sins he never committed. He did this so that we would be seen as righteous before God.
There is nothing wrong with gifts, cookies, decorations, parties, or Advent wreaths. What matters is our hearts. When life becomes so busy that we feel stressed or get so caught up in the activities and events that we forget to focus on the reason we celebrate, it is time to take a step back and breath. Remind ourselves why Christmas is celebrated. Refocus our hearts on the wonder of Christmas.
When Christ is the center of Christmas, we can enjoy the other activities with joyful hearts rather than stressed ones. Christmas truly is wonderful. Merry Christmas!
I would love to hear some of your favorite ways to teach your children the reason we celebrate Christmas. I would love to hear some of your favorite Christmas activities too!
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This daily devotional by one of my favorites, Paul David Tripp, takes you through the month of December. You will walk through the Christmas story and take a look at how it is indeed the Gospel story. I recommend this as a daily devotional for you (or for family devotions if your children are school-aged). If your children are young like mine, you’ll find at the end of each day there is a suggested theme, Scriptures, and discussion topic that makes it easy to include them as you prepare your hearts for Christmas.
If you are not familiar with Andrew Peterson’s wonderful, lyrically rich Christmas music, you are missing out! This beautiful album takes the listener through the Christmas story. It starts with the Passover in Exodus and moves through Scripture to the birth of Christ. It culminates in a simple yet beautiful anthem worshiping the Lamb of God.
This sweet book is perfect for preschool aged children. It tells the story of Jesus’s birth in a way that is true to Scripture. The author uses rhyming prose that young listeners will easily understand. The illustrations capture little one’s attention and this book will likely become a favorite!