Part of the simplicity of childhood, I suppose, was because I was the recipient of the gift giving, cooking, and decorating, not the one doing all the work. (I hear every woman out there saying Amen!) Another part, however, goes beyond the physical labor of the season and takes a spiritual jump into the whys and hows of the holiday.
Although I knew as a child that Christmas was Jesus’ birthday, the glitz and glamor of the season greatly overshadowed this very important fact. When I became a Christian at age 18 and began to understand and experience Christmas in all its fullness, it became both increasingly wonderful and increasingly complicated. Add a few children into the mix and suddenly, my husband and I were asking questions that had never occurred to us before.
What place does Santa Claus have in the Christmas celebration? Does gift giving model God’s love for us, or is it a distraction from the spirituality of the season? Should we read the Christmas story (Luke 2) before we open gifts, after we open gifts, or not at all? Are Christmas trees wrong because of their dubious history that includes ancient Egyptian and Chinese pagan rituals or right because Martin Luther supposedly hung lighted candles on an evergreen tree in 16th century Germany?
These few questions were the tip of the iceberg for us. As first generation Christian parents, we knew we’d be setting a family precedent with our choices and wanted to make the best decisions for our children.
We listened, asked questions, sought wise counsel, and prayerfully settled on the traditions and customs that make our family celebration unique. We’ve come to realize that the Holy Spirit who lives inside every believer is fully capable of directing each family to the traditions that honor and glorify God. These traditions will differ from family to family, and that’s OK. What’s important is that each family gives thoughtful, prayerful consideration to how God would have them worship during this holy season.
If you’re still figuring it out, I encourage you to read Romans 14, one of the most helpful passages of Scripture we found relating to the subject.
May you and your family enjoy a blessed celebration of our precious Savior’s birth.
One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on Christmas traditions. Do you have a favorite one? Share your thoughts in the comment box below and join the conversation.
This post originally appeared in the December issue of Reach Out, Columbia magazine and is used with permission.
LOOKING FOR THE PERFECT CHRISTMAS GIFT
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