In December of 1999, we were celebrating our first Christmas with a child. She would turn 1-year-old on December 27 of that year, and as we returned home from Thanksgiving, we began discussing what her first Christmas was going to look like. Up until that point, I had planned to do what my parents had always done.
We pretended that Santa was real. We read Twas the Night Before Christmas and left cookies on a plate. We woke up at the crack of dawn and waited together on the stairs to check our “stockings” as soon as Dad said “Okay, you can come down now.” We opened gifts, and some were marked “From Santa” while others were marked “From Mom and Dad.” We read the Bible story too, and went to a Christmas Eve service when the church where my Dad preached had a service. But the focus of our celebration as children was all about the gifts.
Much to my surprise, I discovered that my husband had no intention of bringing Santa into our Christmas celebration. As it turns out, when he discovered that Santa wasn’t real at around age seven, he had just been strongly disciplined for lying. His Dad’s words about hating lies made a strong impression. And then he found out that Santa was a lie. Oops. So it didn’t matter how fast I talked, we were not going to have Santa for Christmas. All the sudden I had to scramble to figure out exactly what a Christmas celebration without Santa was going to look like.
Keeping Christ in Christmas as a Family
That was the beginning of our journey towards keeping Christ in Christmas together as a family. And it was a little rocky at first. We pulled in a few of my husband’s traditions – we sang Happy Birthday to Jesus, read the Bible story at our meal, and sang carols. But we also had stockings (it is so weird to have stockings without Santa, but I couldn’t let them go that first year.) And we had lots and lots of gifts. We only had one child after all.
Fast forward a few years, and we had multiplied children and were really getting burned out on the idea of spending so much $$$ on each child, watching them throw off the wrapping, toss the toy aside within a few hours and go back to playing with what they loved. When we asked our son what Christmas was about – he answered “Toys!”. We decided something had to change.
First, we started limiting the number of gifts we gave each child to three. One book, one toy, and one clothing item. Then, I discovered the concept of Advent. During Advent many Catholic and some Protestant faiths encourage daily Bible reading. It was a concept I knew very little about. But the more I read the more I was intrigued. Pretty soon, I was looking for an Advent schedule which did not conflict with any of the tenants of my faith, would teach my children about Jesus the Messiah in a kid-friendly way. What I found was not helpful.
Keeping Christ in Christmas through Advent
That’s when I first wrote Celebrate Jesus: An Advent Journey for Families. I called it Journey to Bethlehem back then, and each year I would update the schedule and upload it to a website for people in my circle of influence to use. We’ve been using Celebrate Jesus in our own home for eleven years now, tweaking, adding and re-writing until it reached it’s current form of a full-sized ebook.
The focus of our Christmas is now all about the Advent of Christ’s birth and His eminent return. Celebrating Advent has changed our family forever! Today, we are giving away five copies of Celebrate Jesus: An Advent Journey for Families to readers of Blessed Beyond a Doubt. Over 200 pages, Celebrate Jesus includes a daily schedule for Scripture readings, activities, songs, and discussion questions for each day of Advent plus copywork pages for each Bible verse in six line styles (something for all ages!) and recipes. Winners can choose between the English Standard Version and the King James Version for the Bible text and copywork included.
If you are looking for a way of Keeping Christ in Christmas more effectively, Celebrate Jesus is just what you are looking for!
To augment our celebration of Advent, we have found the following items to be helpful for keeping Christ in Christmas.
A huge collection of coloring pages for Keeping Christ in Christmas:
A huge list of resources for Keeping Christ in Christmas for your Homeschool Learning
Our favorite Advent Calendar
Our favorite nativity sets for children:
Our favorite Christ-Centered Christmas audio books:
Our favorite Christ-centered Christmas picture books:
Away in a Manger by Thomas Kincaid
Silent Night, Holy Night (with music chip) by Maja Dusikova
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey with CD: Gift Edition by Susan Wojceichowski
(Our complete list of favorite Christ-Centered Christmas books for all ages.)