Have you ever found yourself tearing up and thanking the Lord for bringing something into your life at just the right time?! That was me earlier this fall. I was crying out to the Lord, desperately trying to find a way to keep my family from succumbing to the power of the Christmas rush. Christ was missing from Christmas. I craved something different, something fresh, something – – – authentic. Christmas was starting to slip into the stores and into the media featuring immaculately set tables, families opening giant flat screen TV’s and scenes of traffic jams and shopping madness. When did this happen?!?!?
As I child in the 80’s, I know you still had to be intentional about keeping the Christ in Christmas but I don’t think any of us could see how much more difficult it would get. It’s been 50 years since A Charlie Brown Christmas hit mainstream network television proclaiming the point of Christmas to be the birth of Jesus not a flock of pastel, aluminum trees. I can still close my eyes and see Linus, clutching his blanket reciting the famous passage from Luke. Now, you’re hard pressed to even find a religious Christmas Carol on a holiday special.
As a parent, it hurts my heart. I want my kids to enjoy the magic of Christmas, we aren’t anti-Santa but, most importantly, I want them to understand the true magnitude of the day not just the materialism. So, that’s where I found myself, trolling the internet, desperate for not just resources but a total overhaul of our approach to Christmas. That’s when God led me to an Advent Conspiracy. The Advent Conspiracy is a total paradigm switch on Christmas. It takes the four weeks leading up to the big day and devotes them to the life changing ideas of Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More and Love All. Wow. Isn’t that what Christmas should all be about?
Advent Conspiracy provides tons of free resources to help you implement the program at home. It starts with a family devotional packet you can use to guide your discussion each week. It’s full of fantastic illustrations and convicting examples that hit the heart of each topic and it’s easy to bring it down to the level of toddlers. As part of their Family Resource Bundle, they also have great printable cards, gift wrap and gift tags that all point to the bigger purpose.
Some of my favorite activities are found under Sunday School in the Church Resources Bundle. There’s a letter with Santa scratched out and Papa God written in its place. Just like a mad lib, you can help your kids fill in the blanks and work through the mental shift of give me more, more, more to being thankful that they have everything they need plus so much more. It also helps them pause and consider the needs of kids who don’t share their good fortune. They also a fantastic worship jar idea where you can fill it with different ways to worship and pull one out throughout the season. And guess what, everything is 100% free. My favorite price tag!
Reprioritizing your Christmas
If you’ve read my previous posts about pre-scheduling your Christmas, Advent Conspiracy is on the same page. They aren’t about turning Christmas into some heavy, pensive season. They want you to have fun, celebrate and make memories with your family. So plan to bake cookies, or look at Christmas lights, or go to a Christmas concert. But they are also going to challenge you to give more of your time and money to those who are less fortunate. Consider things like serving at a food bank or a soup kitchen or spending less on your gifts so you can give the gift of fresh water to a community in another country. A lot of their suggestions are geared for slightly older kids but I think with a little noodling you can bring them down to the toddler level.
Keeping the Story of Christ Always in Mind
Separate from the Advent Conspiracy, we are doing several things to keep the Christmas Story our main focus.
First off, I’ve purchased an inexpensive but realistic plastic nativity. I plan to place this at kid level in my living room. To start, it will only have animals in it (borrowed from our farm set – I’m nothing if not resourceful). I’m going to place Mary and Joseph on one end of the house and the wise men on the other. The shepherds, I’ll put somewhere in the living room, near to the stable.
Similar to “Elf on the Shelf,” these groups will move slowly, a little each night, toward the stable. Mary and Joseph will arrive Christmas eve, Jesus and the shepherds on Christmas day, and the wise men will arrive a few days after Christmas. Each day, there will be a fun, game element to finding where the different groups have moved to during the night but it will give us a new opportunity to talk about the story and what’s happening.
Keeping Christ in Christmas doesn’t have to be as daunting as it seems. There are other people out there fighting the same battles too. Once you come to terms with the fact that you can’t overhaul Christmas for everyone – even your extended family – and focus just on redirecting the celebration for your own family, you’ll feel a big part of the weight lift off your shoulders. So, try some of these ideas with your own family. If they don’t quite work, try something different next year. The point is to keep trying and to keep bringing it back Jesus. Share some of your tried and true ideas for keeping the Christ in Christmas below!