This week’s episode is titled: Preparing for Christmas – and yes, it’s that time again! I want to encourage you to start planning for Christmas early (and if you aren’t celebrating – listen to the first little bit cause there’s something you need to start thinking about too!) For those who are celebrating – if we want to be intentional, relationak, and heart focused we need to start planning now. Today I’m sharing three different things for you to consider before it gets too close to December.
Preparing for Christmas (Yes, it’s that Time Again)
I love Christmas and I have always started to get sorted in November. And I know some people groan and think that is too early but if we are to be intentional about how we celebrate Christmas we need to be onto it! We can’t wing it come December – we need time to think about what is going to make Christmas special and meaningful this year for our family. If you want to make the most of the opportunity Christmas offers you to touch your child’s heart and to build family memories then I encourage you to start thinking about how you are going to do that – and start thinking now.
Stick around to the end as I have a free resource to help you be intentional, relational, and heart-focused this Christmas.
First up, let’s think about why you celebrate Christmas. I know I have listeners who don’t celebrate Christmas – and if you are still listening then I encourage you to put in the work as much as those who do celebrate Christmas because you need to be able to talk to your child, in a way that conveys your beliefs so that you can be the influence in your child’s heart.
But for those who do celebrate do you know why? Do you know what is important to you and what you can let go of if your family season needs you to this year? Because every year is going to be different as our children grow up and our family dynamics change.
Consider things with your Spouse
For Peter and I we decided we wanted to celebrate Christmas as an opportunity to focus on God’s plan to redeem and restore His creation, but we also wanted to take the opportunity that a cultural celebration gives us to simply build family memories and have fun together. We were able to do both – but that came from talking about why we would or would not celebrate Christmas.
This is one reason why you need to start thinking about this now. If you and your spouse have never had that conversation then I encourage you to do that in the next week or so.
A few other issues that you need to talk about before things get much further along is
- Who are you going to spend Christmas with – talk together so that you have a plan and can be on the same page right from the get-go.
- How much money do you have available for all things Christmas – be that gifts, decorations, food and travel – family budgets change, year by year, and Christmas is not something to get into debt over. Plan to be wise but also talk about ways you can be resourceful and generous but always within budget.
- Big feelings often surface at Christmas time – take the time to check in with each other about how you feel as Christmas comes closer, and as you start to make plans for your family keep checking in with each other. Are things stressing you out? Talk about how your past experiences affect your current view of Christmas and how you can help each other and plan for your family celebrations in a healthy way.
Consider your Child’s Spiritual Needs
I think the biggest component of your planning time needs to be on how you are going to teach your child something about Jesus this Christmas. Though I appreciate the traditional spiritual aspects leading up to Christmas there comes a time that our children will start to check out when they hear those stories year after year. Even though they are in the establishing phases of their faith hearing the same thing over and over becomes boring and they check out – and the tradition becomes just that – a tradition.
Children, who are raised in Christian homes know the story of baby Jesus, the angel talking to Mary, and Joseph and the donkey finding no room at the inn. We have to teach more than this. Of course, this is the foundation, the backstory but it isn’t the whole story – there is a lot more we can teach at this time of year.
Last year I did an episode on Growing our Children’s faith at Christmas time. I encourage you to have a read or listen to that here. In essence, I asked myself, and this is the question you need to ask yourself: How can this Christmas help my child grow in their faith?
You will have to put in some work. Heart-focused parenting is about the things we do as a parent – we have to be living in faith and in a relationship with Jesus if we want to teach Jesus to our kids and we have to know where our kids are at, and what they need next if they are to grow. So start with praying around that question – God will show you what they need and He will show you how to meet that need.
Consider your Physical Needs
The third reason why it is good to start thinking about Christmas celebrations now is that you have a limited capacity. I know we think we can do all the things all the time – but we can’t. We have to pace ourselves, and we have to be wise with what we take on.
When I had young kids, come this time of the year, I was exhausted, I had parented and homeschooled with Peter away for most of the year. The weather was getting oppressive and the end of the year just couldn’t come quick enough – but it was still November. I needed to plan the new homeschool year, we often travelled over east, so that needed to be sorted and of course there was Christmas.
I certainly learnt that I couldn’t do it all. As I shared a few episodes back we have to choose what to say yes to and and what to say no to. We can’t do it all. And this is so true when it comes to Christmas.
One year I must admit I was trying to do all the things and I had a moment of realisation that I was missing the point. I was so busy planning I wasn’t with my kids. So I created a new standard for myself – and that was – if planning for Christmas took all my time, I was planning too much. Sounds simple, but it often takes a whack over the head, or something similiar to make us realise we have gone over the top and we need to pull back.
As family life gets busy it is tempting to give up a few hours of sleep – I still really like those late hours when everyone has gone to bed and I’m by myself with no one around asking me anything. Its just me and my thoughts. But late nights don’t help in busy times. It was also tempting to give up my hour of room time, we had so much to do – but once again that is shortchanging myself and I quickly found out that I didn’t last the distance. I needed rest.
So if you are planning so much that you can’t find time to rest, and you can’t find time to enjoy your children – you are planning too much. I hope that sentence sticks with you.
As I said at the beginning I have a free resource for you – I release this short email course every Christmas and have always had parents writing back to me thanking me for helping them process these important questions so that they can make Christmas meaningful and not just keep on doing the same ole same ole.
So once you sign up for the 6 Days to Create a Heart-focused Christmas you will receive an email every day with a short lesson and a clear action, often supported with a worksheet. I encourage you to set aside time each day (only 30 minutes) to think, pray and plan so that you can know you are not caught up in the commercialisation of Christmas but rather intentionally planning Christmas your way, for your family and your kids’ hearts – meeting the needs they have this year.
This course won’t tell you what to do but it will encourage you to think about what is important and help you plan to make that happen.
Heart-focused Action Step
So there are two things that I want you to do this week.
- Make a plan to talk about Christmas with your spouse
- Sign up for the 6 Days for a Heart-focused Christmas email course.
If you have done this course before, and you want to do it again this year – you will still need to sign up because that is how the technology works to send you the email!
Be Intentional this Christmas
Don’t let Christmas sneak up on you where you fall into the trap of just doing Christmas like everyone else – or doing it rushed. With thoughtful planning, intentional traditions and activities your family can enjoy a heart-focused Christmas – a Christmas that builds faith, values, character.
But such a Christmas won’t just happen – you need to make it happen. You need to start thinking about what your family needs this year (which might be different than last year) so you have the time to get it sorted with plenty of time to then do the activities, enjoy the traditions, and study God’s word together.
Christmas is an opportunity to be very intentional about heart-work in your family life.
Never underestimate your children’s heart or ideas. We make a big deal out of Christmas – mainly because we want our kids to have special memories – but when it comes to Jesus and Christmas, yes there is an opportunity to dig into God’s Word and learn more about His purposes – but if we aren’t doing this throughout the year then it is as empty as any other cultural tradition.
If we are talking Jesus throughout the year, then Christmas can become a time of being the hands and feet of Jesus in a hurting world.
These questions all lead to thinking about the same kind of thing – pick one that suits the ages of your kids, and find a way to make their ideas a part of your family Christmas this year.
Let me know if you find these conversation prompts helpful, and if you are going to use one of them.
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