I pull out Great Grandma’s quilted wall hanging of the nativity scene and smooth out the wrinkles.
I dig around for the pocket advent calendar and find Nerf darts stuffed where the wise men and camels should be. Every year we lose a few more pieces.
I pull out the wooden nativity set from Aunt Marilyn and glue Mary’s head back on. It’s tradition.
I take the Jesus Storybook Bible down from the shelf to prepare for our nightly advent readings. Chapter two always makes me cry. The kids know.
We put on the Getty’s Irish Christmas album and hang ornaments on the tree.
And as the Christmas carols ring through the house, another refrain rings in the back of my mind:
Is it enough?
Every year Christian parents strive to make Jesus the center of the holidays. We fight against culture, crowds, materialism, and busyness. “Christmas is about Jesus. Christmas is about Jesus,” we remind ourselves as we boot Elf on the Shelf to make room for Mary on the Mantle.
While we strive for this worthy goal, a creeping guilt gnaws at our hearts. Are we making it about Jesus enough? Are we telling the right stories? Are we telling them in the right way?
Our zeal to get it “just right” can create stress where there should be joy. What can we do about it? How do we know if we’re doing enough? Here are three ways to have a stress-free, Christ-centered Christmas.
The pressure of a Christ-centered Christmas often comes from wanting to create an event so beautiful and so spectacular that our kids can’t possibly miss the point. But Christmas isn’t about creating an event. It’s about remembering an event.
When the Israelites crossed the Jordan River on dry ground they took some of the stones with them. When their children saw the stones they would ask, “What are these stones?” The parents would say, “Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground so that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” (Joshua 4:19-24)
Every nativity piece, every Christmas hymn, every advent story is a stone. Our kids point to them and say, “What is that for?” And together we remember the story.
You don’t need seventeen advent projects from Pinterest. You simply need stones of remembrance. They might be as exciting as tours through a living nativity, or as simple as Christmas bed time stories.
There is nothing more joyful than the birth of our Savior.
But in our attempt to have a Christ-centered Christmas, we can turn it into a somber occasion. We don’t want anything to steal attention away from Jesus so we strip away all the trimmings and glitter. But it’s the trimmings and glitter that speak joy to a child’s heart. It’s the Christmas tree, the anticipation of Christmas morning, and the presents that all work together to create a parable in our kids’ hearts – a parable of joy. What more tangible way to point to our heavenly joy?
Not every piece of the puzzle is a complete picture by itself. Not every piece of Christmas will have Jesus’ name on it. But all the pieces work together to paint a bigger picture. There are times to sit together on the couch and read the Christmas story and there are times to run outside and build a snowman. Both help paint the picture of our joy in our Savior.
A stressful Christ-centered Christmas is an oxymoron. If you are overwhelmed by all the things you think you should or shouldn’t be doing, ask yourself: What helps you remember? What helps you rejoice? Those are the things that will bring rest. It’s okay to fill every square inch of you home and calendar with Christmas. It’s also okay to keep it simple. Do it with joy. Do it with remembrance. There is rest in knowing that it is not our job to make Christ’s birth glorious. It is glorious already. Our job is to remember and rejoice. Will our kids “get it?” Maybe this year. Maybe next year. That’s in God’s hands.
It takes effort to point our kids to Christ, but it doesn’t have to be anxious effort. We can be purposeful without being stressed because of what His birth means to us: eternal rest for our souls. We rest in His perfect, sinless life. We rest in His constant intercession for us. This season might be noisy and our bodies might be pushed to the limit, but our hearts can be at rest.
Is it enough? There is no perfect balance. But there is a perfect Savior. A Christ-centered Christmas comes from replacing the refrain, “Is it enough?” with, “He is enough.” Glory to the newborn King!
Christmas Gift Ideas for Gospel-Centered Moms:
“The gospel is the foundation for what it means to be a mother. It is always through this lens that Sara’s wisdom comes shining into our daily lives where joining all the dots can be tricky.” – Kristyn Getty, soloist; composer; hymnwriter; coauthor of Sing!
“The culmination of 30 years of evangelical thinking about parenting. Clear guidelines, great illustrations, and very practical.” – Pastor Steve, Atlanta
“The Gospel-Centered Mom is a huge gulp of refreshing air for moms who are in the thick of raising kids. It takes your eyes off of your performance and places them on the one who performed perfectly for us.” – Jessica Thompson, co-author of Give Them Grace