It’s a difficult thing…keeping children’s focus of Christmas on Jesus instead of Santa. That’s some tough competition in the eyes of a child. Especially when everything around them reaffirms the wonder of the old man in the red suit with all the magic to make children’s toy dreams come true.
We decided that Santa would be a welcome part of our Christmas holiday. And though he is a welcome part, we have been sure to always intertwine him into the Christmas story so that Santa, while a wonderful part of the Christmas season, is not the highlight.
We talk about Santa as a special man who honors Jesus and Jesus’ selfless gift of Salvation by giving gifts to others. The act of giving to someone else, of caring so much for someone else, of wanting to see joy and happiness in someone else…that’s Santa’s role here.
Santa is not the reason for Christmas. Jesus is.
So over the course of the Christmas season, we watch for Jesus.
Something visual we do is advent candles at our dinner table. Before kids and since having kids, we light the advent candles. One candle each week. And we watch the light increase as it signals the impending birth of Jesus- the light of the world.
Since having kids, we also have special readings and prayers as we light those candles. This year we found an adorable children’s book that’s actually for bedtime but the passages work wonderfully for the days and weeks leading up to Christmas.
We read about how God knows us. He chose our families, he knows how many hairs are on our heads, what our names would be, who our mothers and fathers would be.
How Mary was visited by an angel and how through her fear, she became the mother of baby Jesus.
How shepherds were doing the ordinary. Tending their sheep…their own helpless beings. How frightened they must have been when an angel suddenly appeared to give the glad news of Great Joy! How the shepherds left their own sheep to see the Lamb of God.
Over the course of the Christmas season, we wait for Jesus.
It’s so hard to wait. There’s so much expectation about Christmas morning. As we wait, we talk about how the people who knew that someday Jesus would come had to wait. They didn’t know the day or the year. They only knew He was coming. They had to endure so much while they waited and they didn’t even know when He was coming…only that He was coming. What a wait that must’ve been.
Over the course of the Christmas season, we hope for Jesus.
We hope for His return. We talk about Heaven and how, though all we know is what we’ve experienced, Heaven is better than the best things and the best days we’ve ever known. How we all may be called Home before our children get to be grown, before they have children of their own. Even though there may be disappointment in that, Heaven is better than the best Earth has to offer.
And Heaven is better than the best Earth has to offer because Jesus was born that quiet night under that beautiful star.