Redeeming the Meaning of Christmas

If you were to ask my children what is the meaning of Christmas, they would dutifully reply, "The birth of Jesus." But I know them better than that. To these three little ones, Christmas is really about opening presents, baking cookies, decorating the tree and stringing twinkle lights with Daddy.

Sure, we read the Christmas story, attend candlelight services and quote the obligatory, "Remember, Jesus is the reason for the season", while simultaneously wiping tears from their eyes and drool off their chins in the "Barbie" aisle of Toys R Us. But if I could see into my children's hearts, I would understand that to them, Christmas is about more than the birth of Jesus. It's about celebrating the birth of Jesus.

I recently learned that is also not far from the heart of God. Feeling like Jesus had gotten lost in the frenzy of the holiday season, I asked the Lord to show me what I could do to teach my children the true meaning of Christmas. I was caught off-guard when He simply replied, "Don't do anything differently. Look in the middle of the celebration and you will find Me."

He was right. There was no need to orchestrate moments to pontificate about "the commercialization of Christmas." Instead, Jesus was beckoning me to come to the party and bring the kids. In doing so, we ran into Him at school, in the living room, even at the mall. He hid in the lights, the carols, and the cards. He was there when we dressed the Evergreen tree, when Dad dressed up in a red suit, and when we ate turkey and dressing!

We got caught up in all the trappings of Christmas only to discover that it was neither the enemy nor the world that set the bait. It is my desire to lure Christian parents into the hustle and bustle of Christmas and then set them free to join their children in the celebration - guilt-free.

This book is laid out with three distinct parts in the traditional Advent formula. For each of the 24 days preceding Christmas we will explore a particular aspect of the Christmas celebration. It is amazing how short a distance you have to go to find Jesus in our present-day symbols and traditions. We will encounter the true meaning of Christmas in such unlikely places as a candy cane, a fruitcake or a partridge in a pear tree. We will re-discover the significance in Santa Claus, ornaments and even the colors of Christmas.

I've noticed with my own children, (one in particular,) that they seem to hear better with their hands! I can tell them something all day long but if they ever get a chance to do something with that information then it is usually theirs for life. With that in mind I've also included one or two fun and simple activities to help you teach the profound truth of Jesus' birth in a way that will remain in their hearts long after the Christmas decorations are back in the attic.

Having been an actress since I was a child, I've often wished there was a script for life. It would be so much easier. Many times I've known what I wanted to say to my children but I just didn't know how to say it. Just in case you have ever felt the same way, I've written a short little "script" at the end of each chapter.

Of course you could read this book aloud to your children but the truth is, they would much rather hear from you than from me. I suggest that you read the interesting history and practical application within each of the stories, symbols and traditions first. Then catch one of those teachable moments we are always looking for and ask a few of the scripted questions. (You, the oh-so-wise mommy, will just happen to be ready with the answers.)

Imagine the delightful conversations you are going to have this Christmas! Keep the book handy and while wrapping gifts, icing the cake, arranging the manger scene and singing carols, may the seeking - and the finding - bring you and your family much joy.

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