If we are honest with ourselves Christmas is all about memories and traditions.  Of course, Jesus is the reason – and He is certainly a part of our memories and traditions but when we talk about Christmas we are talking about the things that we do and by doing them every year we are establishing traditions and building memories.  Today I’m sharing 3 keys that will help you make meaningful memories for your kids this Christmas.

In our house Christmas has a two-pronged purpose:  there is the cultural celebration which is about family memories and having fun, and then there is the spiritual aspect where we remember Jesus.  The thing is – both address the heart.

The heart is the place where we hold beliefs and values, it determines our character and our will, it is the seat of our passions and emotions.  So when we 

  • Do things together we are establishing a value in our kids’ heart that family is precious, 
  • when we give gifts we establish the value that the other person is special and we love them, 
  • when we have family devotions like the Advent wreath or a Jesse Tree study, we establish the value of God’s word and his promises, 
  • when we decorate the house with a nativity scene we remind everyone who enters our house that Jesus is a part of our celebrations.

 

I think it is easy for us to get cynical about the commercialisation of Christmas and sure – it does take away the focus on Jesus – but only if we let it.  How we handle all the different elements of Christmas will be what shapes your children’s memories of Christmas – both the family aspects and the Jesus aspects.

When it comes to making memories there are three things that I want to remind you of today.  

  1.  Memories happen when we spend time together.  
  2. Any activity we do has to be about the process – the doing – not the end product
  3. Your attitude matters

 

So lets’ dig into each of those.  

 

1– Memories happen when we spend time together

Even though we put a lot of effort into making Christmas a special family time – the thing that really sticks with our kids, both in their now, their childhood and when they grow up – is the time that we spent together.  Children don’t care about how much money is spent on things – unless their parents care.  Children don’t care about keeping up with the Jones’s or showing up on Instagram – unless their parents do.

What is important to a child is the sense of love and belonging that comes from being together. 

I’m reminded of that little quip that says LOVE is spelt T.I.M.E.  And it is true.  When I was a teenager there was this concept that parents needed to give quality time, and not to feel guilty about not giving quantity time.  Unfortunately, this often looked like throwing money at activities and it is the wrong way of thinking.  Kids do value quantity.  They want your time.  

I don’t say this to put guilt on those who are short of time with their kids – but it is a reality and so if you are short of time – then I encourage you to think through the choices you are making and see what can be tweaked.

If you’ve listened here for a bit you know I’m a big fan of little tweaks to make changes.  

Another way of looking at it is that creating memories about being not doing.  What does that actually mean – because I’m pretty sure my kids would not have been thrilled about us just sitting together looking at each other and me saying – isn’t this great we are all being together!  

For sure, we do need to do things together, but the goal isn’t the activity, the goal is to be together.  When we shift our goal from doing to being it makes us more relational, we chat, we connect, and we are aware of the others instead of just doing the activity which makes us more flexible, more approachable – and more memories are made.  

 

2– Making Memories needs to be about the process, not the product

In a sense, I’ve already touched on this idea by talking about being instead of doing but a few more thoughts to add to that.

 

Shifting our mindset – or expectations – on the process, not the product means that When we dwe enjoy the moment, even if it is a bit chaotic, or unravels, or isn’t the end result we wanted.  

Take making a gingerbread house for example.  If we are focused on the process, not the product then it is about enjoying being together, letting each other be creative, and trying new things instead of it being about having a gingerbread house that looks like the box or pictures on Instagram!  The end result is not as important as the fun had doing it.

We need to remember that our Christmas is about being together, building memories – it’s a relationship time and we have to be careful not to make our decorations or activities about impressing or pleasing other people.  Christmas is about memories – it is not a performance and it is not a show ‘n tell.  But the choices you make will be the memories your child has.

 

3– Making memories in your family depends on you – your attitude matters!

As in most things to do with raising a family so much of it is actually about the parent – about you.  And Christmas is no different.  Parents set the tone.  Whether you can focus on being not doing, and on relationships not performance is really about how you approach things.  If you are completely settled in your heart that you are here for your family, that you don’t care what others are doing, that you are content, available and patient – these things will lift the atmosphere in your home far more than fairy lights and Christmas carols.

Three things to watch – I like thinking in 3’s… it is easy for us to remember

You need to watch your body language and words – we are probably familiar with the idea that our words hurt and affect others and often when we try and hold back our words but our attitude squirts out through our body language.  Our body language can be as expressive as our words.  So if we want to say something unkind, inappropriate, or unfair – then step away and sort it out, and don’t let it come out through your words or body language.

 You need to watch your emotional levels – Probably how well we can watch our words and body language is dependent on how we are caring for our emotional well-being – and physical and spiritual well being too really.  We need to not only care for ourselves – leading up to Christmas Day (and Christmas Day itself) but we need to regularly check in to see how we are doing.  It gets busy at this time – we have parties happening in all spheres of our life, and kids’ lives, we have vacations to plan, and extra shopping to sort out – it gets crazy.  We can get so tired and when we don’t look after ourselves and get the rest that we need it will squirt out and affect how happy and connected those celebrations really are.  So make a plan to care for yourself.  

You need to watch your heart  – that is, what you are believing about celebrating Christmas and making memories:  

  • Are you believing(or thinking) that it has to be perfect?  
  • Or that all the things you planned have to still happen even though you are running out of time?
  • Or that you have to do it the way your mother-in-law did it?
  • Or that you have to spend all this money that you really don’t have?
  • Or that you have to do all the work – and that is unfair?

 

So yes, making memories does depend so much on your attitude.  You hold the family together.  

Now, I know I have mostly women listening here – so I’m going to make an extra note to address something because it sounds like I’m saying it is all up to you mum to sort out a heart-focused Christmas for your kids – but that is not what I’m saying.  When I say you – I mean mum and dad.  You are a team, you are raising your family together, as one flesh.  You might have different opinions or even different values – but you have to work it out so that you, as a couple can create the Christmas you want to reflect your beliefs and values.  In our family – I did do all the actual tasks – but I also had the time to do that.  But I did it because I knew it was really us doing it.  We were creating Christmas memories together – I was doing the leg work or laying the foundations but anything that I did reflected the Christmas that we wanted.  

Don’t let creating memories at Christmas be a divisive thing – you, my friend may well be the driving force – the one who has the vision and the plan – but talk to your spouse so that you can be on the same page – creating Christmas memories for your family.

 

A heart-focused Action Step

The heart-focused action step for this week has two parts

  1.  Do a heart check on yourself.  Is your heart in the right place as you start thinking about Christmas?  If not, take some time to pray, think, talk, and make choices that help you get to a better place.
  2. Talk to your husband, maybe even share this episode, and find a way to create Christmas memories together.

 

If you are just starting to think about Christmas now, I know lots of folks wait till December, then there is still time to sign up for the free email course 6 Ways to create a Heart-focused Christmas.  Sign up, and every day you’ll get a short email with something to think about, and then a thinking, reflecting, or planning action step.  It won’t tell you what to do, but it will help you work out what is important.

 

Further Reading:

Building More than Memories this ChristmasThere’s more to Christmas than building fun memories. Take the opportunities Christmas gives us to strengthen the beliefs and values in our kids’ hearts.

Will our Christmas Traditions be Remembered?  Christmas traditions celebrate certain values, and over the years those values may not change, but the way we celebrate might.

Blending Family Expectations this Christmas: Blending family expectations this Christmas means we have to start thinking about what is important to us and how we can blend that in with the family. 

Keeping Christ the center of Christmas – as a Grown Family:  Since our grown kids already know the truths of Jesus that we celebrate at Christmas time our focus isn’t so much on learning, but living out our faith.

 

 

 

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