Friday, December 4, 2009

Keeping Christ in Christmas

My pal, Pennie, is the founder and CEO of an amazing ministry for mom's of all ages, SAMmy's.  If you're a mama, SAMmy's is for YOU!  To my knowledge, the youngest mom we've served through SAMmy's was just 18 years old - and the oldest, in her 70s.  We've moms with infants and moms with empty nests.  We've moms who stay-at-home and moms who work outside their homes.  We've single moms, divorced moms and married moms.  We've low-income moms and well-to-do moms.  We've got diversity is what we've got.  These moms come from a couple dozen different church denominations - and some come from no church at all.  What we all have in common is - motherhood & an interest in growing into Christ.  Most SAMmy's meeting open with a lesson from the Bible (you're encouraged to BYOB - that's Bring Your Own Bible, ladies!) and follow along.  After, women meet in small groups to discuss the lesson, pray for one another - and bond!  To learn more about SAMmy's - whether you're just curious, want to visit a SAMmy's, or maybe even would like to start a SAMmy's, visit Pennie here.

Now, the reason I started this post in the first place is because Pennie produces a quarterly newsletter/mini-mag for SAMmy's, the Scoop.  This quarter, she is looking for stories - and I felt inspired by one of her prompts, so thought I'd respond (maybe you'd like to, too?  Of course, I'm doing this at the 11th hour, and ... ahem ... it may be too late for me, so good luck with that.  The good news is that there will always be another quarter!).

Here is the question:

How Are You Keeping Jesus the Central Theme This Season?
(She also asked, "How Are You Not Getting Overwhelmed This Season?"
to which my response is ... "By Keeping Jesus the Central Theme of This Season!")

Here is my response:

I must confess that in spite of loving my Heavenly Father above and beyond all others in my life, I sometimes struggle to keep Him at the center of the season.  Here are a few keys to helping me keep Him where He belongs - at the heart of it all.

Visual Reminders
My mom always decorated every corner of her house for the Christmas season. The piece de resistance was the nativity set, handpainted by an elderly lady in town (we were country folk) who painted ceramics and sold them out of her home.  Every year, I reverantly helped Mom unwrap each piece from last year's newspaper and set it out in the center of the living room.  Over time, a few sheep lost their ears - and a cow lost its head - but nothing a little glue couldn't fix. 

Every time I saw this beautiful set (every day in December), I was reminded that Jesus was the reason for the season.  I'm a little embarrassed to tell you that for my own family, I have just a tiny little dollar store nativity (but it is super cute - and anyway, several years ago, my folks asked me to list the items I'd most like to inherit when they pass away, and I KNOW that nativity set of my youth is on my list, so I'm holding out ...tee hee). 

Anyway, my message is this:  Set out visual reminders in your home - whether an heirloom nativity or a dollar store version - or perhaps a framed nativity picture - or a nativity, star or angel ornament (use a suction cup hook to stick it to your mirror where you'll see it every time you check yourself out) to cue you to recall the Season's Reason. 

Note to self:  Out with Santa and Snowmen, and in with the Savior!

Christmas Music
I love listening to music any time of year, and tend to choose contemporary Christian tunes as they move me to meditate on the Lord (though I do check out the local country and pop stations now and then for good measure).  By the same token, I tend to gravitate towards Christmas tunes that set my heart on the Lord.  This doesn't mean I don't enjoy a little "Frosty the Snowman", but as far as keeping Christ at the center, I like "Silent Night,"  "Joy to the World,"  "O Little Town of Bethlehem,"  "Away in a Manger"  (which, by the way, I like to think of as "A Way in a Manger" because, after all, He IS the way, the truth, and the life!).

Note to Self:  A little more Silent Night, and a little less Rudolph.

Giving to Others
To keep me focused on the spirit of giving inspired by God's example, and off of the spirit of receiving inspired by the latest Pottery Barn catalogue, I look for ways to give back to those in our community with my family.  Every year, my home church sponsors gifts and a meal for several local families and posts recipe cards with the names/ages of the family members and the items they desire.  This year, my sons and I chose a young boy to sponsor and are looking forward to choosing a toy and clothes for this youngster we may never meet.
This is one example of countless opportunities available this time of year (actually, any time of year), to reach out and bless someone.  Contact a local church for ideas.

Note:  Out with the "Wish List", and in with the Outreach!

Christ-centered Gatherings
Another way that I keep my eyes focused on the real reason for celebration during the Christmas season is by participating in gatherings and functions that spotlight Christ.   Attending Sunday worship and participating in Bible studies are two ways that I keep my eyes on Christ throughout the year, but the focus on the Nativity story in sermons and worship music this time of year serve as powerful reminders of the amazing gift we have received through Christ's entrance into our world.

Xander (far left) in Sunday school Christmas program.

Churches often offer all sorts of special holiday opportunities to celebrate Christ's birthday.  My kids participate in a Sunday school Christmas production each year; this year, I am co-directing!  We also will be caroling along with our church family at senior centers and at the homes of our homebound members.  See what your church family has drummed up for the holidays - and make it a priority to participate!  And if you haven't a church family, what a perfect time to check out a few in your area.  Believe me, the opportunities are plentiful, and the volunteers too scarce.

Note:  Gather with and serve alongside those who are focused on Christ; I'll be drawn into focus, too.

Christian Traditions
I've heard of all sorts of wonderful family traditions that encourage folks to remember the Christ child's birth.  One of my favorites is that of setting out a Nativity set minus the baby Jesus - until Christmas Day when he is finally placed in the manger.  A popular tradition is attending a Christmas Eve candlelight service (my mom and dad began to do this after I graduated and had flown the coop). 

The tradition passed to me by my own mom and dad that I most treasure is the reading of the Christmas story from the Bible (Luke 2:1 - 20) on Christmas Eve.  Every year, after clearing the table and washing the dinner dishes of the last flakes of lutefisk (yes, lutefisk), Dad would settle in a chair near the Christmas tree with his old King James Bible and my mom, two sisters, two brothers and I would gather round in anticipation (actually, I was anticipating gift opening, but nonetheless, I was eager with anticipation).  Dad would read the story to us, starting with the decree from Caesar Augustus and ending with the shepherds glorifying and praising God.  This tradition is so ingrained in me that even in the years of my life when I was most distant from the Lord, I absolutely could not open gifts on Christmas Eve without first having heard from the gospel of Luke.

Note:  Continue and/or create Christ-centered family traditions.

Wishing you the very merriest of Christmases.  May our Heavenly Father bless you with Great Joy and Peace.  And may you keep Christ at the center of this holiday season ... and beyond!

Blessings in Christ,


  1. Kris Ann,

    I found you on a google search for keeping Christ in Christmas. I am a mother of 8 (and now a grandmother of 8, though it doesn't feel like it). We have tried to keep Christ at the center of Christmas for many years.

    I love your ideas and identify with them. Perhaps my favorite few years were when we found a family that needed a boost at Christmas -- through a friend. She recommended someone in her neighborhood. I wanted someone who would not be on a Sub for Santa list or already getting help in some other way; rather, I wanted someone who was in need of cheer and perhaps a few additional gifts whose need might be unseen by others.

    We brought little treats and gifts for several nights in a row and left them on the doorstep. On the last night, we brought a nice gift certificate (no gift cards then like today) and had someone deliver it to the door and hand it to her in person. The idea was we were trying to be anonymous.

    However, the mother wrote a note to me through the store who tracked me down through the gift certificate number! Her letter was so wonderful -- how she was having trouble with her former husband over visiting rights (her oldest son) and how it was a slim year and she hadn't felt the Christmas spirit at all -- until someone thought to leave treats for them. She had a photo taken of her children in the pretty clothes she bought with the certificate.

    We decided to contact her. The next year, her family helped us find another family and together with her children, we did something like we had done the year before for her. It was a wonderful experience that we kept up for a few years.

    You don't have to post this next part, but I was looking for sites like yours because I'm trying to find a way to let people know about Christ-centered wrapping paper I have produced. I got tired of looking for it every year, so my family and I did it ourselves.

    Would you just look at my site and tell me what you think? I started late this year, and though my product has been well-received where it is seen, it has been difficult to get the word out. I wouldn't want you to pass it on unless you thought it deserved to be passed along.

    If you are interested, please contact me for the URL. My company is called First Christmas and we refer to our paper as Nativity wrapping paper. It is elegant and respectful of Christ's birth.

    I would love feedback and ideas for finding SOON the people who want this paper. If I can sell the designer sheets I printed this year (rolls were out of my budget), I will be able to offer rolls next year to those who choose this way to keep Christ in Christmas.

    Thank you and God bless you and your beautiful family.


  2. WOW that was REALLY in depthe and so was the last comment. Mine is going to be short and sweet :)

    Your mom group sounds a lot like MOPS which is GREAT! As for me and my kids this year we are doing a birthday party for Jesus...but i do still struggle with the whole santa thing..not really sure



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