Celebrating Christmas {In Opposite World}

Celebrating Christmas {In Opposite World}

“Christmas is simple…and complex!”

That’s what my pastor said this morning in church and I quickly jotted it down.

The baby in the manger.  Simple.

That’s God in the manger.  We get that. (well that’s complex to grasp but not the point of the post – so we move on! lol!)

But baking cookies, decorating, shopping, wrapping, attending parties, concerts and family get togethers –makes it all seem SO complex.

So I googled “How to have a Perfect Christmas” and I found this list on-line:

  • Enjoy the build up
  • Have a Christmas movie night
  • Read a Christmas book like “The Christmas Carol”
  • Shop on-line
  • Write a letter to Santa
  • Make a gingerbread house
  • Create a Christmas tradition like buy a new decoration or make a new treat
  • Get the best wrapped present award
  • Go ice skating, visit the most decorated houses in the area or go to a craft fair

There’s no birthday cake for Jesus on that list, but that should not come as a surprise as this is our chance to take Jesus to opposite world!  We are the light of the world!

Have you ever imagined what it would be like if you took the Christ child out of Christ-mas.  Since I grew up in a Christian home – celebrating Jesus as “the reason for the season” is all I know.  But for some of you – you came to Christ later in life and you know what it’s like to do Christmas minus Christ.

The world has mangled the meaning of Christ-mas.  They have cluttered it with a gazillion meaningless things to the point that we as Christians can hardly find the Christ child in the midst of our own mounds of toys and cookie trays!

And we are tempted to be self-indulgent. We want to have what opposite world has. But do we realize that all those magazines and pinterest pins void of Christ, add up to nothing. Their promise is fleeting.  There’s a momentary happiness that will dissappar at the strike of midnight on Christmas day and come December 26th –we will wake with a hollow feeling of guilt.

We must step out of this horrific dreamland marketers have tried to sell us, void of Jesus and be still with Jesus.

But here’s where we start to wade into opposite world’s waters…all the days of planning, purchasing, decorating, baking and wrapping can fill us with expectations this world can never fulfill.

One lost parking spot, one fight with your husband or one rude comment from a family member…and Christmas begins to unravel and become less than dreamy.  This less than dreamy reality serves as a reminder that all opposite world offers –is empty.

Movie nights, ginger bread houses and letters to Santa Claus cannot compare to the the joy that comes from knowing and walking with the King of Kings!

As Christ followers, we must not chase the next rainbow, the next high, the next good thing, rather than chasing our Savior – God – born in the manger.

Our Christmas must look different.

We must not miss Christ.

“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”~Luke 2:6,7

Stop right there.  Where were the women in this story?  Where was the innkeeper’s wife? The innkeeper could clearly see she was expecting!  Why didn’t he call the mid-wives?  Where’s her mother-in-law?  The town was so full of people there were no rooms in the inn – yet this poor young girl gives birth with no one but Joseph at her side?  Where was the baby shower and new clothes?  She didn’t have baby clothes, so she wrapped him in cloths?

No one was mean to them…they just weren’t there!  Were the women too busy taking care of their own families?  Surely, taking care of our own families is a good and noble thing – but God was being born!  And they missed it!

How can we not miss Christ this Christmas?

Matthew 25:34-40 tells us:

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

There it is.  Giving, inviting, clothing, looking after and visiting…strangers, prisoners, the needy, the hurting around us.  Whatever we have done for someone we see in need –we have done for Christ.

This is what sets us apart from the “perfect Christmas” that opposite world offers.  The focus is not on us – the focus is on Christ.

Chime In – This Friday, I will share practical ways to keep Christ in Christmas.  But until then, *chime in* in the comment section and share – what are some ways your family keeps Christ in Christmas.  I’d like to include some of your thoughts in Friday’s post!

Walk with the King,



  1. Our favorite thing to do is on Christmas morning, we all gather together with extended family and share what the Lord has taught each of us the past year. It is a rich time of fellowship and hearing the amazing things that have happened in each of our lives. We have never gotten into a lot of presents, parties, etc. We have always kept it simple so our children would be focused on Jesus and not all the materialism around them. We never let them believe in Santa Claus. They always knew Christmas was about Christ.

    1. I love this Lori! This is what we do on New Year’s Eve with my family. We each go around and share something God did in our lives that year – we write it down before the get together and then pass a time capsule around and after we share – we put it into the capsule. They are so much fun to open many years later! I love that you do this on Christmas – it’s so good to have a purposefully meaningful time together.

      Lots of Love,

  2. We like to drive around at night and look at the Christmas lights, while sipping hot cocoa. I just bought a brand new container of Nestle’s Hot Cocoa at the store today. I also Paid it Forward by sending some money to a Sister in Christ who was on your Book Launch team with me as she is in dire straits at this time of the year. It wasn’t much but a little goes a long way where she is at right now.

    It’s just crazy to see that there’s only 24 days left until Christmas!! I’ll do what I can to get it done. I don’t stress too much though. Blessings to all!

  3. I’m so glad you’ve continued your Opposite World series with this! I am looking forward to your practical tips. Personally, I just decorated my apartment for Christmas and realized it was lacking Christ – the most important part! – so I put a nativity set up so it’s the first thing you see before the tree or other decorations.

  4. This is our first year of doing an advent bible study for Christmas. We always tell the kids (6, 5,3) about the true meaning of Christmas and ready the Christmas story. Even though I grew up in a Christian family, I have only been saved a year the 16th of this month so this will actually be our first Christmas season I will be making it a point to make Jesus the reason for the season. I made it a point to explain what Christmas really was about in years past but this year I want to do more than explain, I want my kids to experience the reason, Jesus.

  5. My husband & I have our daughter & 2 grandkids over to spend the night on Christmas Eve. We read the story of Jesus’ birth from the Bible & then we watch Christmas shows together while eating Christmas cookies & drinking hot chocolate. The Christmas shows we watch are not the typical strictly religious shows you might expect. We watch “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (the cartoon version), which tells us there is more to Christmas than presents, parties, & bows! Then we watch “Rudolph”, which shows love for all, even misfits! And, finally, we watch “Garfield’s Christmas”, which shows us that family & tradition is so important! Until I started writing this down I didn’t realize the actual messages that we get from these classic cartoons. My granddaughter (who is now 14) cuddles up on the love seat with Grandma & I so enjoy the evening!
    Good Word, Courtney!
    God Bless,

  6. Thank you so much for posting this. I am coming up onmy 2nd Christmas with my husband, and last year we got so overwhelmed by all the Christmas that can happen when you merge two families, that it was very difficult for us to stay focused on Christ. As we are building our own holiday traditions, these ae some very helpful thoughts!

  7. My husband and I keep our children focused on the true meaning of Christmas {Christ}. We have don’t buy into Santa. Because they know Christ is our ultimate provide, and every good gift comes form him. We even limit our children to three {moderately priced} Christmas gifts to three. Why? well because Jesus received three gifts from the wise men. We read about Jesus birth before we go to apposed to ‘The Night Before Christmas’. And Christmas morning we have a time of gratitude and prayer and a happy birthday song to Jesus before we open gifts.

  8. This is so timely and such a wonderful post, Courtney! I think this becomes even more urgent for me now that I have kids. It is hard to tell my kids that Jesus is our focus, but then spend hours making cookies, buying gifts, etc, and little to no time in the word, attending services at church, etc. More and more I hear that time with family, or carrying on traditions is what Christmas is about. That does not ring true for me. I want to share with my kids that Christ and life in him is what it is about. As for a practical tip, I think it is neat to find age appropriate explanations for Christmas symbols that share about Christ. There are a lot of resources to help with this. I was just in Dollar Tree and saw a chocolate candy cane with the explanation on how candy canes (shape and colors) tell us about Jesus. Neat! Tons of ideas for this can be found on pinterest. Keep up the awesome encouragement in your blogs! Thanks!

  9. What a great post! Thank you. I am going to write in large letters somewhere, “How can we not miss Christ this Christmas?”

    We love putting up all our decorations and enjoying the lights. But in some ways, I look forward to having it done so we can settle in and focus. We have an advent wreath in a focal place in our home and we light it and say prayers every night. We add ornaments to our Jesse tree and read the scriptures that correspond with each ornament. Our family’s favorite Advent tradition are reading one of a trilogy of books we own written by Arnold Ytreeide. They are: Jotham’s Journey, Bartholomew’s Passage, and Tabitha’s Travels. We look forward to these stories each year. I cannot recommend them highly enough. They are exciting and really help you focus on the Savior’s birth!

  10. This year my son is 2 1/2 and really able to start grasping any idea of Christmas. I want him to always remember growing up in a home that celebrated Christ as the center and the reason for our Christmas season. This year we are taking scenes from a nativity and placing them in a stocking in his room. Each day her has a piece there will be a lesson pertaining to that piece that we will talk about as we put the Nativity together. We are also doing several Advent studies/ideas I have pieced together for him.

  11. What an encouraging, Bible-based post, Courtney! You are SO right to find ways NOT to miss Christ in Christmas! Among other things, my hubby and I had one constant–we always read our children part of the Christmas story from the Gospels after December dinners. Now they read it with their children. This year three of us grandmothers (how did THAT happen so soon?) divided up the book of Luke, added a few other key verses about the Word becoming flesh/human, and paired them with powerful stories of people receiving Scripture in their own language for the first time. There are suggested prayer and ornament-making ideas, too. We made them free for everyone to download at http://www.wycliffe.org/Resources/Kids/FreeCurriculum/HolidayLessons.aspx and started at our house tonight! Looking forward to your next posted ideas.

  12. Courtney I can’t tell you how much I love this post!! This is exactly what I’ve felt God laying on my heart and why I’m taking a blogging break until December. I felt Him telling me to focus less on all the “GOOD” things that aren’t His PURPOSE in my life. I need to be more purpose driven. So that’s exactly what I’m doing. 🙂

  13. Thank you for your post, Courtney! We have not been celebrating Christmas the traditional way for a couple of years now. We went to the local hospital with some foodies and Christian reading material on Christmas Day and that was a blessing! But this year I wanted to start a whole different Christmas tradition. I planned a Jesse Tree worship and tot school, made ornaments matching our worships to hang on a cross, not a tree. I prepared family centred activity cards as well as random acts of kindness cards to draw each day. I want our family to really focus on Jesus, really get in to worshiping Him and then enjoy reaching out to others as we grow closer to each other. (We really need it!) My prayer is to have a changed and transformed family as well as a growing Christmas tradition that will bless others. For years to come!

  14. Our advent calendar is filled not with treats or toys, but with activities to do as a family. Some are certainly geared toward the secular season: drive around and look at lights, play pin the hat on Santa, make Christmas cookies, etc. But many are not: do a prayer walk through the neighborhood, take cookies or a card to a neighbor and let them know we are praying for them, dress up and act out the nativity, remember Christmas is about love so show your friends you love them today by smiling and giving them a hug or a compliment… This year we also found 25 days of scripture leading up to Christmas Day, so each advent envelope includes one. The decorating and the coziness of the season are fun, but a few years ago I struggled to figure out how to change the focus for us (my in laws are big spenders…excess gifts doesn’t send the message I wanted my children to grasp). This Christ and family focused activity calendar has really helped us slow down, spend time together, and wait for the morning when we sing happy birthday to the One who loves us enough to die for us!

  15. Our 2 children grew up knowing that Santa wasn’t real, but heard the story of Saint Nick, we chose to tell the true meaning of Christmas from an early age. We now have 8 grandchildren and they are being taught about Jesus & how He came to this earth. A tradition my husband & I have started when our 2 oldest grandchildren were 5 yrs & 18 months (this will be our 4th yr) ~ we have dinner at our house (no parents) & have a birthday party for Jesus ~ we sing and talk about Jesus coming to earth. Afterwards we drive around town to see the lights. We have gone out to DQ for ice cream, but this year we now have 6 of the 8 old enough to go with us, so I believe we’ll do the ice cream at home ~ we might have to rent a 12 passenger van this year! (ha) . Thanks so much Courtney for your blog!

  16. I have always tried to keep Christmas calm and joyful in our house! With each light, cookie and gift I try to tell my children how this pertains to Christ’s birth. I take them to the dollar store each year and let them pick out one gift for the grandparents and my husband. I explain that this gift no matter the cost comes from the heart and it represents the one gift the wise men brought to Jesus. Christmas morning before we open any presents we read Luke 2 as a reminder to why we are here and we start with the best gift of all!!

  17. I love your perspective on “where were the women in the Christmas Story” ….I don’t want that to be me, I want the world to know that I’m “with the King, by His Side” Thank you for that perspective!

    As far as keeping it CHRISTmas-we do a few things:
    1. We do the “Sparkle Box” idea http://www.thesparklebox.com (if you have never read this book it is a good one-and she’s a “local artis” in Ohio)
    2. We have a Birthday Cake for Jesus (White Angelfood Cake with a big white candle in the middle that we light) and sing “Happy Birthday Jesus” -done this since I was a little girl
    3. After all the presents are opened (including our “Sparkle Box”) our family walks/drives around town to “Find the Manger” and everywhere we find the manger displayed we sign a Christmas Carol. Hoping this year if it’s at someone’s house to ring their doorbell and sign to them. last year only churches were found with the manger displayed.

    Nancy from Doylestown Ohio

  18. We get the pieces to the nativity and use them to tell the story of Jesus’birth. The kids always have lots of fun, and always fight over who gets to be whom. This year, I think I’ll make cards for the parts and deal them to the kids… You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit. Maybe they will trade cards, maybe not. Either way, they always get over it and have tons of fun!

  19. My husband and I are reading Ann Voskamp’s book together – The Greatest Gift – a devotional for each day of Advent. I printed out the ornaments for the Jesse tree and we hang one each day that corresponds with the scripture reading for that day. We plan to take the little tree with us on our Christmas travels to see children/grandchildren during the holidays.

    Thanks, Courtney, for being faithful to present the lessons about “Opposite World”. It has been a great series!

  20. Just created a toddler program for our church nursery were the 2 year olds are learning the characters of the nativity scene during the advent season. We learned about Mary this past Sunday, the kids LOVED this! I went to a crazy amount of stores looking for a nativity scene and couldn’t find one anywhere! Every store had tones of the commercial decorations for a tree etc. but not the most important thing, what kept Christ in Christmas. Love the post Courtney thank you for the reminder, I didn’t become a believer until later on in life and am one of those people who grew up with the “commercial Christmas’ ” Trying hard to create my own traditions and making the day about Christ. My husband and his family always grew up opening presents on a different day than the 25th and spend Christmas morning in a church service. I look forward to continuing to do this for our little family now. Can’t wait for your practical tips on Friday!

  21. Courtney, what a great post! It is so easy to get caught up in the craziness of the season and forget what it is truly about. Some things we do in our home to help us focus on Jesus is 1. The Christmas Nail- this is the first ornament that goes on our tree and my husband or I always read the story that goes along with it. Such a great reminder of why Christ came as a baby. 2. Advent calendar- one that tells the story of Jesus! 3. We started this year doing the advent study from GMG with the kids. 4. We buy gifts for others (Toys for Tots, Heifer International, local foster kids, etc.) Discuss how many blessings God has given our family while preparing/shopping for the gifts. 5. Christmas songs (that talk about the birth of Christ). We still do Santa and Elf on the Shelf and hot chocolate while looking at lights, etc but our focus is on celebrating the birth of Jesus!

  22. My children are 4, almost 3, and 1 1/2. We DON’T do santa. Rather, when they get gifts from anyone we make it a point to say how awesome it is that Jesus is always giving us blessings (toys as a desire of our heart, clothing to keep us warm and protected from the elements, …) Last year when people would ask my oldest two if Santa was going to bring them gifts they said “no, we don’t know him. Jesus gives us blessings. He also gives us presents even though it’s his birthday.Isn’t he so kind to do that?!”

  23. I think this article is on the right path but there are still issues with the whole Christmas theme that people don’t get. The whole holiday with the trees, lights, wreaths, mistletoe, eating ham etc are ALL based off of paganistic rituals and practices. If we are to truly separate ourselves away from the hype and traditions of men, we need to come to terms with the whole truth and be ready to give it all up to honor God.

    1. You are quite right. Besides ALL the pagan traditions, do you know what the Bible says about celebrating Christmas? NOTHING! Jesus didn’t commanded us so, we don’t see his disciples celebrating Christmas, we don’t read any commandment from Paul in his letters… Jesus Himself commanded us to celebrate His death until He returns because, through His death we are redeemed! And we celebrate it in Supper . Devil wants to fade the sacrifice of Jesus by making people focus on His birth. Our Jesus overcame death, why should we celebrate His birth? We have something greater to celebrate!

      1. You have a great point Ana…but I must interject that without Christ’s birth, there would’ve been no death and resurrection. Everything about Christ; His birth, life, death, and resurrection must be celebrated and taught….because through the miracle of his precious virgin birth, is proof that He is in fact God’s son, making him God in the flesh…through his life, we learn how to live and become more like Him…and through his death and resurrection we have eternal life and hope through Him and the Holy Spirit that guides us once we’ve become a child of God.
        Even though Jesus wasn’t actually born on 12/25….it doesn’t hurt to set aside a day to celebrate what God did…just like Easter…we don’t know the actual date of His death…but we celebrate Him and praise Him for loving us and sacrificing for us.and of course we do NOT have to celebrate as the world does 🙂 That’s part of the freedom in Christ that we have as believers 🙂

  24. I am doing the Good Morning Girls Advent study in the morning this year, then, in the evening, my husband and I are reading through Ann Voskamp’s “The Greatest Gift”. We do the devotional around our Advent wreath, then hang the corresponding ornament on our Jesse tree (just a small Christmas tree atop the piano).

  25. Oh yes! The Nativity! We had a Nativity under our Christmas tree growing up and I bought a Nativity set to put out at this time of the year as well! SO important to me to continue this tradition!

  26. We start the day at church by celebrating the birth of Jesus at our 45 min Christmas day a.m service. We’ll sing Carols, then read from Luke Chap 1… Each child stands up at the front with 1 of their “New”toys, and the Pastor will give a quick talk by using a Christian analogy whilst observing a specific characteristic or color, or something about the toy. The kids love this!

    In the home we emphasize Christmas is All about Christ.. We tell the children the greatest Gift of All is Jesus! That God sent us His Son Jesus born as a tiny baby in Bethlehem’s manger, to be the Savior of the world. We then tell of the 3 gifts the 3 Wise men gave to the Baby Jesus… We read John 3:16.. ( I put this verse in Christmas cards, or a Christian tract about the True meaning of Christmas).

    We sing carols around the piano. We teach dicsipline with the kids presents, to be truly thankful for what they receive; they open 1 or 2 in the morning, then save the rest till after dinner and open them all together with the family. We have Jesus is LORD written on our holly wreath

    We’ve always told the truth about santa – the kids know its really mommy and Daddy Christmas who bring their toys! It’s never spoilt the magical fun of Christmas which we all love! On Christmas Eve we say in a rather jokey way, now tonight in the “Story” Santa comes on his sleigh with all his reindeers .. Etc
    Still keeping all the excitement without being dishonest.

    All Glory be to God at Christmas!

  27. I love this post! The focus is not another pin worthy craft how to make memories with Santa. It’s Jesus. In a culture where Christ is removed from Christmas, to read your post is beautiful! I completely agree! Our kids are young but I try to have a balance in your home explaining Christmas is Jesus’s birthday. And ask my kids what will they give Him. Our son who is 4 said ill share my Legos, it made us laugh. I’m happy to sow the little seed into their lives. Blessings!

  28. When our family gathers on Christmas Eve for our time together, we have dinner and fellowship, then before we open the gifts we’ve got for each other we read The Christmas Story. We want to make sure Christ is part of all of our Christmas, even our material gift exchanges. We remind ourselves that the only reason out culture gives presents at Christmas to begin with is due to that first, most precious gift given to the world so many years ago– the gift of our Savior, Jesus, given to all of us!

  29. I love this post! I too have seen the downward spiral of Christmas in the consumer-driven world. I went to my favorite store, Target, to look for Christmas cards with a religious theme. Now first of all, I went there last year and had trouble finding a card with an appropriate message with a pretty picture. This year, I was horrified to see a card proclaiming on the front “Merry Christ”moustache” with a moustache under Christ’s name. I was so appalled at the absolute sacrilegious use of the name of Christ in such a callous way. I did end up finding a box of cards that were beautiful with a beautiful, religious sentiment on the inside. I really love them. But, I am glad to say that several ladies and I had a heated discussion about this sacrilege in front of other Target shoppers and hopefully they thought twice about the meaning of Christmas!!

    1. The meaning? Well it has nothing to do with Christ that’s for sure.

      #1 The date is wrong for Christ’s birth
      #2 Every aspect from the tree, wreath, mistletoe, carols (yule tide? Seriously?) are all pagan in origin.
      #3 God tells us not to worship him in the way the pagans do. Deut. 12:31

      Here is a christian teaching on this subject.


  30. this is what I’m so desiring to do. We have an almost 4 year old that has heard about Santa and he looks at the catalogs and says he wants this, this, and this. I see my precious child’s covetous heart. I want to point him to Christ and everything around wants to point him to Santa. We watched Home Alone 2 and one of the characters said Santa was omnipresent or omniscient. My husband (not one to speak so boldly normally) said, no, that’s God. Some things have to go if we are to make it about Jesus again. We may have to say no to Santa, some Christmas movies and cartoons, some traditions. I don’t know how it’s going to end up looking like, but I’m desperate for it.

  31. I LOVED this post. I grew up in a Christian home and although my family had Santa our focus was always on Christ. I have always known that Christ is Christmas without Christ this is no Christmas. My husband and I have always made sure our children know what Christmas is all about. We pretty much spend the entire Christmas season at church because there always seems to be so much going on. Our first Christmas decoration that we put up is our nativity set and it is always in a prominent place in our house. We also support Operation Shoe Box. We give our kids $20.00 each and they use that money to fill a box for a child. The only thing we tell them they have to put in there is a Bible. They love doing this and we always make sure they know why we do this. We explain to them that although we don’t have a lot there are people out there that have nothing and don’t know Christ and this is a way for us to show the love of Christ and share the blessings He has given us. We make sure our focus remains on Christ even with all the worldly things swirling around.

  32. Our family celebrates Christ in various ways. We have several nativity scenes (baby Jesus doesn’t appear until Christmas Day), we bake a birthday cake for him, we read the scripture together, we attend and/or participate in our church pageant, we decorate cross cookies and pass out to friends and neighbors and we have a wrapping party where the kids “give” something to Jesus. This year I would like to make and celebrate with a Jesse tree and add an advent wreath to our dining table. Thanks to everyone for sharing your great ideas and thanks for this post!

  33. There are lots of bells all around at Christmas. (I wear one on a bracelet.) Every time I hear a bell ring, I say a prayer for non-believers, for our country, for peace. And I thank God for sending his son to save us from our sins. Merry Christmas to all!

  34. I was thinking about Christmas Trees this morning. Why do we put one up?! This thought came to my mind… Christmas is not about the tree hanging in the living room but about the Savior who hung on a tree! My husband and I are intent this year to keep the Savior in our Christmas!!

  35. i love this post. While i grew up in a Christian home this will be my first Christmas as a Christian and the only believer in my house. i am excited to start some new traditions that will show others what Christ means to me. i frequently get dirty looks because while i love the true meaning of Christmas, the holiday itself actually makes me almost physically nauseous which makes it hard to get in the spirit of decorating and such. The amount of greed that is “excused” because of this holiday is unbelievable. It amazes me how people can sit around on Thursday and be “thankful” and the very next morning be involved in activities where people get trampled to death so they can get to “stuff”. And now they don’t even have to wait until the next day…so sad! This year i want to focus on hand made gifts and gifts that express the spirit of giving.

  36. When my kids were little we used to wrap the Christmas tree with Happy Birthday streamers. We don’t do santa in our house, never have. Unless its the one where santa is praying over the manger. I was just asking my husband the other day if it was wrong for us to be so lax about the holidays? I guess because we know the true meaning of Christmas, everything else just seems unimportant.

  37. The FIRST decoration in our house is always the nativities (all 3 of them). One from each side of the family and one that I ‘rearranged to tell the story’ as a child. This year my kids added a whole ‘flock’ of animals with the shepherds (the Bible doesn’t specifically say it was a flock of sheep, so our shepherds have longhorn cows, mules, and a German Shepherd to help them keep it all under control). DH couldn’t bring himself to put the wisemen across the room, but the kiddos keep moving those across on him… it’s become a game and I love hearing them explain to him how the shepherds weren’t THERE until later. They can’t wait to bake their annual birthday cake for Jesus… he even got a gingerbread train cake one year. This year they want to take the cake to share with their cousins. We have Santa’s around the house and we talk about the spirit of Santa… which the kiddos compared to someone who gives like Jesus on Jesus Birthday to share the joy with others. In all honesty though, this is the first year that the kids ‘know’ about Santa not actually coming… and it is actually so much MORE peaceful this year despite other ‘challenges’ that came up during the year. The kids are NOT upset about it and seem more focused on meeting up with friends and other activities than writing their lists. It feels like our priorities are straight and we are living a life that reflects those priorities.

  38. This is so timely. A few days ago, I wandered through the Christmas sections of several stores and was saddened that I didn’t see Jesus. One store had one nativity that was made of ugly peg people, a pack of stickers, and a few cards that mentioned Jesus. Another store had nothing that mentioned Jesus. The other two are Christian companies so they had more stuff. I realized that there simply isn’t a demand to have Christ in Christmas.

    That spurred me to search for ways to make our family’s focus on Christ and not gifts. My kids are used to lots and lots of gifts- this year we are giving them the three best from our stash (not sure how they’ll handle this change. We aren’t going to mention it and they’ll get stuff from extended family too… I wish I’d heard of this concept when my oldest was young.)

    I spent a long time yesterday on the internet looking for ways to make Christmas more Christ centered. One idea I really liked was to have a service advent. Everyday your family does an act of service to show Jesus’ love. Yesterday we each chose a toy to donate to Dollar Tree’s toy drive. Today we are writing letters of appreciation to someone at church.

    We have a box of children’s Christmas stories that are only out for December. Most of them are Christ centered though some are family centered. Almost all are used books. I want to do the same thing for movies- we do watch The Nativity Story every Christmas Eve.

    We have the Little People nativity that is only out during December. I also set up a felt nativity on a felt board, but the kids haven’t noticed it yet.

    I look forward to reading your practical ways to keep Christmas centered on Christ!

  39. My family don’ t go to church…..so for me I try to show what Jesus birth, death and life mean by how I am when with them and how I live…and I have a little manager….but have a big God. I was placed in an orphanage when born at Christmas time….so now I am known by Jesus……I bring other people like myself and those who have no one…or family etc…I bring them into the manger with Jesus, cos that’s where I climb into it with Jesus because in the orphanage we used to climb into each other’s cots, prams so we wouldn’t be alone, and would be warm and that’s what I can give Jesus…..my company…..and I invite others to climb into the manger with Jesus……..so they too won’t be alone this Christmas time…….

  40. WOW, you brought me to tears with this one. No, I was not brought up a Christian. I found Christ 6 years ago at Easter. So, Christmas has been a struggle for me. How do you celebrate Jesus when all you know is the worlds ways. Today you showed me that I do just that. Every year we do two angel tree kids. One girl and one boy. We do a christmas box. and I also shop for my neice who is 3. Her parents struggle. Her mom stays home but dad works small jobs to make ends meet. They can not afford to go out and buy her new cloths or shoes. So, that is my way of showing Christ to them. I am a giver at heart and love to help others. I see now that that is Christ in me. Thank you so much for the eye opener!

  41. I love your “Opposite World” series, and this post is a beautiful addition. Our family is still very young, so CHRISTmas for us mostly entails reading the kids Bible and playing with the Fisher-Price nativity set lol. But we aspire to keep Santa Claus out of our chimney, and presents in general to a minimum… Shockingly difficult considering I come from a family that is Christian in name only. Nobody “gets” us, but that isn’t why we do it. 🙂 Merry Christmas!!!

  42. Hello!
    Interesting post! Loved reading the comments. So agree with those who ‘don’t do santa’ we never have either. We are messianic so we celebrate His birth in the fall, when he was most likely born since there were still sheep in the pasture according to Luke. More specifically we celebrate it at the feast of tabernacles (aka booths or sukkot). It is why John made the reference the He “tabernacled with us”.sukkah is a hebrew word and can also be translated manger…it’s a temporary dwelling. If you remember in Leviticus, the Feast of Tabernacles was a pilgrimage feast so all males were required to go to the temple. This made it a perfect time to have a census since everyone was there, and why there was ‘no room in the inn’. many pilgrims stayed in others sukkahs as did Joseph and Mary a few miles out of town in Bethlehem. It is considered a blessing to have guests in your sukkah. All important events happened on God’s Feast days, I would think His birth would be no different. Blessings to you all 🙂

  43. Thanks so much for this reminder Courtney! I love the Christmas season and think it is a great time to share about Christ with others to hear the good news as they may be more open than other times of the year. It is also a great time to open our homes and be hospitable by giving a listening ear, spending time, and cooking for people. For some have entertained angels without knowing it ..I must admit Jesus loved a good dinner party and company . He knew how to balance life and we can learn from his example. Time alone with God is essential to having and handling the holiday season! and finally I must admit, I love gifts! I love giving and receiving gifts. there is nothing wrong with it as long as we can afford it and don’t go into debt. people love getting gifts! even homemade ones! They brought gifts to Jesus the night he was born. the bible also says proverbs. 18:16 ” a gift opens doors for the person that gives it, and ushers him into the presence of the great.”

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