The Magic of Christmas
As a child, I loved Christmas and couldn’t wait to experience the magic and wonder of the holidays with my own children. The twinkling lights and festive decorations, Christmas music and movies…and the enchanting tale of Santa Claus.
As a young mom I wanted to hold on to all the magic of Christmas for my children, including Santa. I wrestled with these desires when talking with parents who chose not to include Santa in their traditions. Their reasons were solid—they didn’t want to deceive their children or promote the materialism that seemed to be overtaking Christmas. They wanted to keep Jesus the central focus of Christmas in their home.
Maybe some of you are in this place now. Looking for a way to embrace all the magic of Christmas…and use it to point to Jesus.
Enter St. Nicholas! The real Saint Nicholas was a fourth-century Christian Bishop. As an only child he inherited a fortune when his parents died, and he became known for his generosity and his legendary habit of secret gift-giving. All inspired by his commitment to Christ. His story gave rise to the legend of Santa Claus. Secret gifts given out of Christ-centered generosity. This generosity, which is so visible this time of year, is the true magic of Christmas.
Regardless of how or if Santa is a part of your family’s Christmas tradition, you can share the story of St. Nicholas with your children. A man who demonstrated Christ-centered generosity towards others inspired by God‘s generous gift his own son on that first Christmas.
St. Nicholas connects the magic of Christmas with the miracle in the manager.
In her e-book, Treasuring Christ in Our Traditions, Noel Piper defines traditions as planned habits with significance. A way to hand down values, beliefs, and worldview from one generation to another.
How are your Christmas traditions handing down your values and beliefs to your children?
One of our favorite traditions when my kids were young was having friends over to make Christmas cookies and sending a plateful home with them for their families. Handing down our values of hospitality and generosity.
We started this tradition when my kids were in kindergarten and, with the older two, it ended with middle school. When my youngest was in middle school, I mourned what I assumed was the end of this tradition---until he came home from school and told me that his friends were asking when we were going to make Christmas cookies. I had to scramble to get the supplies ready and two days later my kitchen was full of middle school boys making and decorating cookies. Watching them was its own kind of Christmas magic!
We can enjoy the magic of make-believe ---red-nosed reindeer, talking snowmen and elves on your shelves--but let’s treasure the gift of Christ and make the most of every opportunity to point to Him.
Talk about Jesus as you decorate your home for the holidays. Connect simple things like the star at the top of your tree to the star that led the wisemen to Jesus and the evergreen tree to everlasting life.
Make setting up the manger a significant part of preparing your home for Christmas---you might even consider placing Mary and Joseph in another room and let your children move them closer to “Bethlehem” each day, arriving on Christmas Eve with baby Jesus added on Christmas morning.
Enjoy a cup of hot cocoa with a candy cane. Share how candy canes point to Christ---shaped like a shepherd’s staff; Jesus is the good shepherd. White stripes symbolizing purity, red stripe symbolizing Christ’s blood shed for us. Three thin stripes, representing the Trinity.
Read the Christmas story from the Bible on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning. Better still, find an age-appropriate advent devotional to read with your family throughout the season.
And if you ever start to feel like the deeper meaning of Christmas is getting lost in the gifts and the glitter, grab your kids and watch “Merry Christmas Charlie Brown” together.
When Charlie Brown cries out in frustration, “Isn’t there anyone, who knows what Christmas is all about?” Linus provides the answer…quoting directly from scripture (Luke 2:9-14). Sharing the miracle of the manger…and it’s magical.
Wishing you all a magical Christmas as you make plans now to celebrate and treasure the gift of our Savior. Making the most of every opportunity to point your children to the ultimate gift of salvation found only in the manger.