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It's All About a Birthday

When my children were little, I pondered how to teach them that Christmas isn't just a children's fun holiday for receiving candy, toys, and gifts. Sure, there are books, DVDs, and Sunday school lessons emphasizing the reason for the season, but I wanted something that would be tangible to a small child. A real life experience.

My kids have birthdays close to the holidays. My daughter's birthday always falls on or a few days before Thanksgiving, while my son's is five days after Christmas. To explain Christmas, I told them that a birthday is a celebration of a person. On their birthdays we celebrate them. They receive gifts as we give thanks for their birth. Christmas is a birthday too, so on Christmas we celebrate Jesus. It's a celebration of His birth. Instead of asking "what do you want to get for Christmas," the question was, "what are you going to give for Christmas?"

At the beginning of Advent I would ask, "what are we going to give Jesus for His birthday this year?" I pointed out Scriptures that focus on giving, especially to the poor and needy. When the kids were little, we participated in things like caroling at retirement homes and Operation Christmas Child. As they got older, we continued to focus on helping others, especially the elderly and those in need. We hand made gifts for those we wanted to encourage and say thank-you to.

We never did Santa Claus. We started Christmas morning by lighting the Christ candle in the center of our advent wreath and singing Happy Birthday to Jesus. Then we exchanged presents as a family, but everything was small and inexpensive. Everyone got their "big" gift on their birthdays, and learned not to expect large or elaborate gifts on Christmas. Our other traditions revolved around special meals and food.

Not focusing on ourselves helped keep Christmas low key. No fuss or stress. And it meant no post-holiday let down. All of that enabled us to keep our focus where it belongs.

So, in keeping with our Christmas tradition:

Merry Christmas to All
Happy Birthday Jesus!

It's All About a Birthday © December 2019


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