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3 Ways to Refocus Commercial Christmas Traditions on Christ

Posted on Dec 22, 2016 11:43:34 AM by Nikki Roberti Miller

In this age of commercialism, it’s getting harder and harder to keep the focus of Christ in

Christmas for our children. From all the presents to Santa Claus on every corner, it can send a

confusing message. Here are three ways to refocus common commercialized traditions back onto the real reason

for the season.


Makeover #1: Commercial Advent Calendars

Counting down to Christmas is fun, especially if you get a chocolate each day like many favorite

Santa-themed advent calendars. But why not take it a step further? Make or purchase a reusable

advent calendar with slots that will fit a piece of paper. Each day, your child can read a verse

about the Christmas story leading up to Jesus’ birth on Dec. 25th. It’ll be a favorite tradition for

years to come. Here’s a list of verses to get you started.

Makeover #2: Elf on the Shelf

It seems like everyone has these “toys” nowadays, and for younger children, it’s hard not to feel

left out when everyone else has a “Mr. Jingles” who moves every night before they wake. But it

doesn’t have to be a “Santa spy” tradition like many make it out to be. Why not turn the old-

school elf into a “kindness elf” that leaves messages to your child about how to bless others as

God has blessed us this Christmas season? Or, look into the Christian version of Elf on the Shelf,

“The Christmas Angel” which leaves a message for your child each day on how to show love to


Makeover #3: Santa Claus 


Whether Santa Claus is a tradition your family loves or something you all choose to stay away

from, there’s no denying it can be a sticky situation for all involved. On one hand, you want to

instill truth into your child and teach them how to have unwavering faith in real things like our

Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. On the other hand, you may not want them to ruin Santa Claus for

other children who believe or even deprive your children of a tradition you loved as a child.

One way to eliminate the drama is to tell the historical story of the real Saint Nicholas, a

Christian who believed in giving to those in need, just as Jesus taught us. Explain that the

tradition of Santa Claus originated from his kindness and then read passages in the Bible together

about how we are to take care of others in need as well (for example: Proverbs 19:17, Hebrews

13:16, Acts 20:35). Together you can get excited about “being” a Santa Claus this Christmas


Have your child pick someone they know that needs something and then help them

deliver it anonymously. They’ll get a firsthand experience of how it’s “better to give than to

receive” while also making the Christmas season more special than ever before.

5 Ways to Manage the Christmas Chaos for Families

Posted on Dec 9, 2014 3:00:00 PM by Kim Schlauch

Christmas packages

While the Christmas season can be an exciting time, for many families the burden of the added demands and expectations surrounding Christmas on top of an already hectic family schedule can outweigh the joy of the season.  This is certainly true in my life.

The first Christmas season after my return to work following ten years as a stay-at-home mom was a real eye opener for me.  I vividly recall collapsing in a heap on the sofa that particular Christmas night with a greater feeling of despair than joy despite the fact that I had somehow managed to accomplish all the same Christmas tasks I had completed in previous years.  Upon much reflection, I determined I had been so focused on completing the tasks that I failed to acknowledge that, because of my work schedule, I had much less time in which to complete them that season.  In addition, I realized the despair I experienced resulted from losing sight of the big picture: I was so consumed with the tasks that I missed out on the true meaning of the season.  In the years to follow, I was determined to bring back the joy.    

Here are 5 ways I have learned to manage the chaos of Christmas to better experience the joy of the season that I hope you can benefit from as well: 

  1. Set Realistic Expectations.  Determine the time and energy you truly have devote to seasonal events and activities based on your current circumstances.  First, make a list of all the things you want/need to do.  Next, estimate the amount of time you are able to set aside to complete these tasks.  If the items on the list outweigh the time you have, you will need to cut some things from the list.  But how can you decide what to cut? (See #2) Christmas to do list

  2. Focus on What Matters Most. Prioritize your list based on what matters most to your family.  Are the activities on your list ones that you truly have the time and desire to do, or are some on the list for no other reason than you’ve always done them in the past?  Perhaps it is time to forego some old traditions to make room for new and more relevant ones or to simply make more room in your schedule for some much needed down time.

  3. Forego the Guilt Complex.  Don’t feel obligated to live up to others’ expectations, especially when perception isn’t always reality.  For example, a tradition you think is quite important to your mother might not actually be as important as you think it is.  Keep the lines of communication open and find a balance between meeting your family members’ needs and maintaining your sanity.

  4. Maintain an Attitude of Gratitude.  Feeling overwhelmed?  Rather than dwelling on the tasks in front of you, take a “glass half full” approach and be thankful for what you have.  Staring at a sink full of dishes?  Be thankful you have food on the table.  Overcome by piles of laundry?  Be thankful you have clothes on your back.  A daunting Christmas card list?  Be thankful you have all those wonderful friends and family members.  You get the idea.

  5. Give the Gift of Time.   Instead of stressing out about the gift of material things, focus on a memorable holiday experience.  Plan a special family outing or go for a drive to see some Christmas light displays.  Or simply focus less on “doing” and more on “being.”  Rather than all that running around, plan a quiet evening at home with your loved ones in front of the fire with a mug of hot chocolate, a bowl of popcorn and some Christmas music or a movie.



Topics: Christmas

Signs of the Season

Posted on Dec 6, 2014 6:00:00 AM by Pam McKee

Church at Christmas

What are some things you think of as you start hearing Christmas music and seeing the glittery trees and wreaths in the mall?  During the holidays there are so many signs and symbols that remind us of our Savior.  Not all of them were originally Christian in origin, but as a follower of Jesus I don’t think that life has to be divided up into sacred and secular.  After all, God is the Creator, isn’t He?  So when I celebrate the birth of His Son the symbols that go along with that celebration automatically make me think of certain attributes of God.  And they are good pictures to use to explain to our kids what we are really celebrating at Christmas time. 

The Christmas Tree.  Evergreen that it is, of course makes me think of God’s eternal-ness.  And the fact that we chop down the tree and put it in a stand in our living room where it sort of takes on a life of its own for the season - that is but a picture of Christ’s death and resurrection.

Christmas tree

 Lights. The first decoration we put on our tree is the lights.  Once they are all working and hung (an act of God in itself!), how can these shining little points of light not remind me that God Himself is Light, and that in the beginning, He created light for us to have in this world?  And the lights that we blend with the garland on the stairs, and the glow of the candles that are burning on the dining room table….When we turn off the house lights, hasn’t an atmosphere of beauty been created?  We worship a God of beauty.  This is a great way for our children to experience just a small part of His beauty.

 Candy Canes.  One of the ornaments we hang on our tree is candy canes.  The colors give us an easy visual way to explain to our children that the reason Jesus was born was to pour out his blood for us (red) and that He can make our hearts pure and clean (white) for our heavenly Father.  

Bells.  I’ve always liked the Christmas song “Silver Bells”.  In the Old Testament (Exodus 28) Aaron, the priest, wore bells on part of his clothing as he entered the Holy Place to atone for the sins of the people.  Tell your kids this story and explain that the reason Jesus was born was to be our High Priest.  Celebrating Christmas is a huge celebration that Jesus, our High Priest, has atoned for our sin once and for all. Painting this picture in the minds and hearts of your kids will remind them of what Jesus has done for them as they hear the bells at Christmas time. 

It seems that the signs of the season come earlier and earlier each year.  But that’s okay.  Because it’s never too soon to start talking to our kids about the real meaning of the birth of Christ.


Topics: Christmas

10 Tips for Putting Christ Back in Christmas for Families

Posted on Dec 2, 2014 3:00:00 PM by Kim Schlauch

children Christmas play

Here are 10 things your family can do to celebrate and honor the real reason for the Christmas season:

  1. Don’t Be Afraid to Say “Merry Christmas.”    Let the joy of the season show in your life.  When others wish you “Happy Holidays,” gladly respond by saying “Merry Christmas.”  In uncertain situations, you can answer, “Thank you, I plan to have a Merry Christmas.  Blessings to you!”

  2. Sing Christ-centered Christmas Carols.  Listening to music is a wonderful way to get into the Christmas spirit.  As a reminder of what this season is all about, include songs in your rotation that honor Christ and celebrate His birth, such as “Joy to the World,” or “Silent Night.”

  3. Read the Nativity from the Gospels.  Stories and poems, such as “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” or “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” have become popular holiday entertainment traditions during the Christmas season.  Be sure to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas by reading the Nativity story from the gospels (Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 2:1-20) with your family.

  4. Celebrate Jesus’ Birthday.  What’s a birthday without cake?  Lighting a candle and singing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus is a fun and creative way to commemorate the birth of our Savior, especially for younger children.

  5. Remember that Jesus is the Greatest Gift.  Before the chaos of the frenzied gift exchange ensues, find a way as a family to remember the real reason for the season.   As an example, when our children were young, I would wrap the baby Jesus from our manger scene in a gift box.  Before we went downstairs to open presents on Christmas morning, we would gather as a family and open the box to remind us all that Jesus was indeed the greatest gift.
    Nativity scene

  6. Donate to Charities.  During the season of giving, share Jesus’ love by giving to those in need.  Involve your children in activities such as purchasing gifts for needy children, collecting cans for a community food drive, or supporting a Christian charity. 

  7. Christian Christmas Cards.  Christmas cards are not only a way to connect with friends and family, they can serve as a great witnessing tool as well.  Consider sending cards that include a favorite Bible verse or that include artwork reminding recipients that this holiday is about celebrating the birth of Jesus.

  8. Decorate with Religious Symbols.  When decorating for Christmas, include tangible reminders of the holiday, including manger scenes, angels, and other items depicting the Nativity story that your family can look at and reflect upon.

  9. Attend Church.  In addition to worshiping regularly during the Christmas season, make it a point to attend any special seasonal services or programs your church has to offer.  Share the joy not only with your fellow community of believers, consider inviting a friend to join you as well.

  10. Give the Gift of Your Presence.  Your presence can be the best present you can give.  Make it a point to spend some quality time together with your family.  In addition, reach out to someone who may be sick or alone and remind them that they are loved.




Topics: Christmas