Is Christ The Center of your Christmas?


By Thamar Jones
Why do we have a tree decorations andlights? Why do we exchange gifts at Christmas? What do these Christmas traditions mean? Are they important?
Christ is—or should be—at the center of Christmas. Consider the traditions that many of us maintain during the Christmas holidays—the dinners, the decorations, and the gifts. Is our focus and celebration based on Christ and the gift of his birth? Perhaps there is more—some additions to these traditions that would bring more meaning to your holidays and make Christ the true center of Christmas.
Traditions are powerful for families. For one thing, they bring families closer together. By nature, traditions take time and commitment. This time together helps you make new memories while also remembering the past. Traditions remind us to stop the busy cycle of life long enough to reconnect and build bonds.
But the ones that are most affected by traditions are children. Psychiatrist Martin V. Cohen, Ph.D. says that children love rituals and that they find a certain security and solace in something that gives a sense of belonging and comfort. Kids find rituals fascinating—artistically, spiritually, and emotionally. They find a sense of awe in the holidays, giving them a picture not only of family bonding, but also of the importance of Christ.
Traditions are symbolic. Perhaps the most important purpose of traditions in the Christian community is to remind us of Christ Himself. This is most obvious in the symbol of communion. In Luke 22:19, we find Jesus leading the disciples in the first communion. At the end of this verse, He says, “Do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way, we have Christmas traditions that remind us of Christ. The nativity reminds us that God came as a man in the flesh to take away the sins of the world, and gifts repeat the story of the three wise men that came to adore the Christ child.
You can start new activities that will bring even more meaning to your holidays and build a legacy for your family. Perhaps you came from a family of non-believers, and you have never celebrated traditions that were based on Christ. Or perhaps you have found that your current traditions have no meaning for your family. Here are some ways to make sure that as we celebrate Christmas this year, we are celebrating its true meaning.
1. Fast a meal. In Belize, Christmas includes a large focus on food. This year during the week before Christmas, give up a meal and pray during that time for the poor, hungry, and spiritually lost in the world.
2. Watch a movie that remembers the life of Christ. There are several good films that focus on the birth, death, and life of Christ. We recommend Jesus of Nazareth, the film, Jesus, or for mature audiences, The Passion of the Christ. For a change of pace, try Ben Hur, a movie that begins with Jesus’ birth and ends with His death, and tells the story of a man who was transformed by His love and forgiveness.
By watching movies that focus on other aspects of the life of Jesus, the Christmas celebration of His birth is put into proper perspective. This can be an excellent opportunity to talk to your children about why Christ had to come in the form of a child.
3. A family I know has a birthday party for Jesus. They have a dinner together followed by the lighting of the Christ candle on a nativity wreath, and then they read the Scripture account of Jesus’ birth. After that they have a birthday cake for Jesus. The cake is chocolate, representing sin. It’s filled with cherry pie filling, representing the blood of Jesus, and it’s covered with white frosting which represents our new life in Christ.
4. As a child my family decorated with all the traditional stuff—tree, lights, presents, etc. One year it dawned on my mom that we could add a deeper spiritual touch to our celebration by thinking in spiritual terms. As we gather to have our family Christmas, we began the evening by looking at the decorations and sharing what each item reminded us of: the lights—Jesus, the Light of the world, the tree—the cross, the gifts—God’s gift to us
Traditions create legacy and are a great way to pass down family values to children who will in turn, pass them on to their children and so on. When used properly, traditions are a great way to pass down stories of faith and customs through generations to come.