For the last decade, my husband and I have had the joy of conveying the wonder and magic of Christmas to our four children. You may notice a bit of a shift from your typical Santa, Elves and reindeer magic, but we have found an approach that for us holds just as much sparkle. Interested? Read on!
A Birthday Party
As we walk our children through the month of December, we describe Christmas as the ultimate birthday party.
A birthday party has decorations. When we encounter these out and about I say, “Look! Everyone is getting ready for the birthday party. I love these decorations!”
A birthday party has presents. At Christmas time everyone is planning what presents to give. I say to my children, “This birthday is so special that EVERYONE gets presents… not just the birthday boy. Isn’t that awesome? What will you give? What do you wish for?”
A birthday party has special desserts. We talk about this as we make gingerbread houses, cookies and enjoy special Christmas candies. We start our Christmas morning with a birthday cake. We sing the happy birthday song and our children blow out the candles before we all open presents – just like a birthday party!
A birthday party has a birthday boy or girl. In this case, the birthday boy is Jesus. He is so special that people all over the world celebrate his birthday by decorating, eating special desserts and giving gifts. We know that not everyone acknowledges the birthday boy, but if it weren’t for him, none of this would exist. Only someone as special as God himself could create such an incredible world wide phenomena like Christmas and THAT is magical. When people talk about the “spirit of Christmas” we know exactly who that spirit is!
As we lead up to the big day, we have some traditions that have become dear to us. Here are a few of our favorites.
The Jesse Tree
We have a little tree with a basket full of individually wrapped ornaments. Each day of December the children open an ornament and place it on the tree. The ornaments symbolize different parts of the Christmas story. We use a homemade version but this one gives you the idea. There are also lots of versions on Etsy and Pinterest.
Six Flags Holiday in the Park has a living nativity play with live animals. The lights, decor and Christmas music are magical! We enjoyed s’mores together just the other night!
Way of Lights
Way of Lights is a drive through light experience that tells the Christmas story. You can park for a petting zoo, camel ride, hot chocolate and kettle corn. There is also an incredible Lego exhibit my children absolutely love!
Journey to Bethlehem
Weather permitting, Harvester Church puts on an incredible event that enables children to experience the Christmas story in a live action walk through that ends with cookies and hot cocoa.
We have several children’s books that I wrap and place under the tree each year. The kids get to unwrap them on different nights in December and we read them together. A few are about St. Nicholas. We want our children to know where the tradition of Santa comes from and what a wonderful man St. Nicholas was. Here are a few we love:
Everyone has favorite Christmas movies. Here are a few we watch every year:
We attend our church’s Christmas concert and Christmas Eve service. Our kids will hear the Christmas story but this time, in the context of our faith community. For events near you check out local Christmas concerts. To me, there is nothing like a good old fashioned nativity play with children dressed up like the characters. We’ve made special memories through the years!
We introduce our children to the magic of Christmas each year by helping them to explore the WONDER that for the weeks around the birth of Jesus, the whole world stops to think about good things like beauty, peace, giving and love. We think about these things because we believe we were all made in the image of a God who embodies those attributes. On Christmas, we remember that He sent those wonderful qualities to the world in the form of a little boy in a manger. That is why we sing, “Joy to the world, the Lord has come.” For us, that is magic worth celebrating. I can’t wait.