Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What Do We Value During the Christmas Holiday?

For us as born-again Christians, Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Christ. And while we do decorate and give gifts at Christmas, I have found myself thinking back to, and in some ways imitating, what I saw in my mother during the Christmas season.
As we decorated (and believe me, my mother decorated like she was competing for a magazine cover), everything was given a spiritual meaning.

My mother had country blue fabric ornaments for a while in the 80's that were in several different shapes. As we would put them on the tree, she would tell us the spiritual significance of why that shape had been chosen as a decoration.

The baby carriage represented the Baby Jesus and His birth.

The present box represented God's gift to the world through His Son, the round ball represented the world that Jesus came to save.

The candy cane shaped ornament (in country blue fabric) represented the shepherds.

The lights on the tree and house stood for Jesus being the light of the world.

Thinking back, I don't remember the last time we used those ornaments, and in some ways, I miss them. Looking back, maybe they were not the highest fashion in decorations, but my mother had put meaning to them, and that made them special.

At the time, as we were being questioned to see if we remembered from the year before what each ornament stood for, I can remember thinking, "I know, Mom." But now, as an adult with my own daughter, I can understand why my mother used the decorating of the tree to teach us (she used everything as a teaching opportunity).

It can be so easy for December to overwhelm us with activities, concerts, plays, parties, gatherings, shopping, and baking. For children, it can easily become a focus on what they are getting rather than giving.

My mother made sure that during the decorating, we took a moment and focused on what the value of the celebration was.

Jesus.

And yet, how many times does He go forgotten during His own birthday celebration?

This year, since Addie is more aware of what is going on, I have found myself intentionally, and sometimes unintentionally, pointing out to her the significance of our decorations. (No, the giant snowman beside the tree has no significance except that he was a gift from Mama to me and for that I love that little guy dearly.)

As Brian was setting up the lights, I held Addie close and told her that we put up the lights because Jesus is the light of the world, and we are celebrating His birthday.

As I set up the tree with her, I explained that the tree has two parts in the life of Jesus. The first was for the manger that He was put into after He was born, and the second was for the tree that was turned into a cross for Him to die on for our sins.

When I set up the Nativity scene (and yes, our 3 wise men are there), I explained who all of the characters were, and I made a special emphasis of the Baby Jesus.

I have even told her that we give presents to each other to remember the best present of all, Jesus.

Somehow, children even at such a young age have a tender heart towards God. She loves to give the Baby a kiss on the head (I hold Him very carefully) before she runs off to examine her favorite ornaments on the tree and when I tell her that He loves her and wants to live in her heart, she points to her heart (we have always told her that Jesus wants to live in her heart while pointing to hers). 

I know that she is not even 2 years old yet and may not quite "get" everything we are trying to teach her, but the Bible says that the Word of God will not return void. I want to make sure that I instill into her the values that Brian and I hold so dearly, so that as she grows she can grab a hold of these values and make them her own.

What do we value during the Christmas holiday?

The fact that God sent His Son to earth as a tiny Baby to live among His Own creation, so that one day He could die to save us from our sin and from an eternal separation from Him.

That is what I value.

Not the parties (although they can be fun), the shopping (stressful! and you know how I feel about stress!), baking (then we feel guilty and starve ourselves for the next 6 weeks), or constant blurr of activity (and then we wonder why we dread Christmas the following year). Our children will pick up our values not by what we say but by what they see.

Lord, please let Addie see what I value the most, not just during the Christmas season, but throughout the year as well. Please help her to choose You as what she values the most at an early age as well.

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