| from Joyce Baker |
Our Thanksgiving Day was a quiet one this year. I was making some pies to take to my daughter’s house later and Steve was working on our new bathroom build. I remembered that the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was on, so I turned on the television to watch as I cooked. The commentary on the final float caught my attention. I heard the commentator say, “And now what we’ve all been waiting for – the star of the season – Santa Claus.”
I’ve nothing against Santa Claus. When our children were young, we taught them about the tales of Father Christmas but we never taught them that Santa was real and that he provided their Christmas gifts and wishes. He was part of the decoration and festivities – not the star. Certainly not related to the star that guided the Magi more than two thousand years ago. The Magi intently followed this star as it led them to the real Star – the Light of the world – Jesus!
In our many traditions of Christmas, our desire was to keep the focus on the purpose of the season. We wanted the ‘star of the season’ to be the Light of the world. Christmas has always been a big celebration at our house. I love Christmastime and so does my husband, so naturally, we wanted our children to enjoy it too, so we celebrated everyday of the season.
I had some strong opinions on what I wanted our family celebrations to be like. I began putting these opinions into practice when our children were very young. As I write this, my mind is flooded with precious and funny memories of our traditions.
- We always had our gift exchange on Christmas morning. And like children everywhere, our children would wake up very early to see what gifts were under the tree for them. Even though Santa wasn’t the center of the gift celebration, it never dampened their enthusiasm nor did they feel deprived. They were always excited and appreciative of what we managed to give them.
- We began our Christmas celebrations after Thanksgiving. Each day while the children were in school, I would add a few decorations to the house. They always looked forward to getting home and seeing what mom had added to the little Christmas village, our troupe of snowmen. We lived in Houston and that’s about the only form of ‘snow’ they would see.
- Another tradition we had was to join up with the cousins and drive through a particular subdivision in Houston to look at Christmas lights. In this subdivision each street had a theme and all the houses would decorate accordingly. One street was the twelve days of Christmas, another was silver bells, Disney, the Nativity, and other seasonal themes. There were wonderful lights, animated figures, music, and live carolers.
- Christmastime was family time. We’d watch Christmas movies, make ornaments or purchase a special ornament each child selected, and play games.
- Giving was another family tradition. We baked cookies and made candies to give to friends, relatives, and others who were in need of knowing someone remembered and cared. We would visit care facilities and sing or do puppet shows. We enjoyed serving as a family.
- Celebrating Advent was probably the most special tradition we enjoyed when the children were growing up. Each night Steve would lead us in a time of worship in the Word of God centered on the Advent theme for the week. The children would take turns lighting the candles in the Advent wreath. The four weeks of Advent are hope, preparation, joy, and love. During these times we all grew in our knowledge and appreciation for the precious, sacrificial gift of the Savior.
This year we plan to start a new tradition – sharing the story of our salvation, the beginning of our personal relationship with Christ the King. I know my husband and my children’s testimonies. However we have been blessed with new family members and some of our grandchildren are old enough to understand and participate in our time of sharing. We want to intentionally celebrate how God has given each of us new life and make sure the next generation hears the gospel regularly from those who love them most.
Focus on the gospel – the good news that Christ the King has come to give us life and life eternal. He is our life and our light! Jesus was and is the true star of the season to be celebrated and worshipped.
“The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. . .
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:9-10,14
Joyce Baker is the mother of four grown children and “Mimi” to four precious grandchildren. Joyce has served side by side with her husband, Steve, in ministry for forty years with a heart for encouraging families to grow together in Christ. Her ministry is marked with the recognition that every person is a unique individual with purpose and a need for those unique qualities to be encouraged. Dr. Kathy is excited to welcome her as an Associate Writer and Speaker for Celebrate Kids, Inc.