My happiest Christmas memory is the time each year that my aunt Nancy directed my cousins and me in a reenactment of the nativity. The youngest among us--a girl--was always baby Jesus, and as Mary, my main job was not dropping her when I placed her in the manger. That and avoiding wayward staffs twirled by the ragtag band of shepherds played by my boy cousins.
When I reflect on those memories, the principal player was my aunt Nancy. The yearly play was her idea, so of course we looked to her for to take the lead and to direct us as to when to proceed solemnly into the living room for our performance. But more than that, we followed her lead because she cared. She was enthusiastic about the story we were reenacting, so we naturally were too.
My happiest memories as a child, and the ones imprinted most indelibly on my heart, typically involve a happy or enthusiastic adult--a teacher who taught my class to dance the Virginia Reel during our Civil War unit, a softball coach who infused fun into every practice, and a band director who loved his job.
But the happiest of happy moments always involved my parents. When my dad laughed or my mom got excited about something, time stood still and my heart threatened to burst. I delighted to see them delighted; their enthusiasm and joy instantly and naturally transferred to me because I loved to see them happy.
Kids learn to love what makes their parents light up. I see it in my own kids now. My oldest son brings me the Sunday comics, points out a good strip, and waits expectantly to hear me laugh. All of my sons are adamantly loyal to my college team only because they know that I am. And when I ask them what they’re thankful for, they’ve learned to add a spiritual element, because they know Who it is that I love.
So what does this speak to me and to all parents during this Advent season?
Sometimes Christmas can feel like pressure to a young mom who wants her children to be well-versed in all things Jesus. There are countless (wonderful) Pinterest pins, blog posts, activities, and books about how to make the most of the season and communicate the meaning of Christmas to our children. This year I have felt this pressure acutely, for I can count down on one hand the years my oldest remains in our home. I want to make Christmas special and say all the right things that will imprint its meaning on each of their hearts.
I imagine, however, that what they’ll remember about this Christmas and all the Christmases of their childhood combined will not be coloring sheets or books or a lit candle on the Advent wreath, although these will certainly hover with warm connotations in the background of their minds. No, if they are like me, I imagine that what will have the most impact are the happy and enthusiastic adults in their lives, namely my husband and me, who have the story of Jesus joyfully tumbling around in their hearts throughout the year and the Christmas season.
Am I happy in the story of Jesus? Am I contemplating what His coming has wrought? Am I looking expectantly for His return? Am I enthusiastically speaking of it as I sit with my children in our house, and when we walk by the way, when we lie down, and when we rise up?
This is what our children will remember about Christmas, long after the presents are opened and the Advent calendar is put away. They will not remember the details of their December experiences, but they will remember what delighted us. And because it delights us, it will delight them too.
What delights you about this Christmas season?
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12/11/2017 09:23:05 pm
This is excellent. When we bring all the gifts out under the tree, the first thing my daughters do is find all of my presents and pile them up in front of me. They love watching my expression as I open each one, the gifts they have handmade or spent so much time picking out. They receive so much joy by giving gifts to myself and my family. We love to remind them that that is how God feels about us. He loves us and loves to bless us. I think the biggest thing as a mom is seeing giving as their favorite part of Christmas. I'm focusing on that this year! Great blog post.
12/12/2017 07:52:58 am
What a great picture you have painted for us! I can just see your girls watching to see if mommy likes her gift. Congratulations! You have been entered in the Refresh Breakaway 2018 drawing.
12/12/2017 12:04:48 am
Loved the article. Christmas is a time to share gifts because God gave His most valuable gift to us. The love we feel as we share gifts with others is what makes Christmas such a happy time and leaves a warm glow in our hearts. An excellent time to tell others that we give gifts because God gave us His wonderful gift.
12/12/2017 07:56:29 am
Like your comment - we give gifts because God gave us His wonderful gift. Such a simple yet profound witness. Congratulations! You have been entered in the Refresh Breakaway 2018 drawing.
12/12/2017 03:29:05 pm
Great article. Now that my boys are adults I am always amazed at their memories of Christmas. They remember reading the Christmas story, singing carols and always getting a new tooth brush in their stockings more than the special toy they wanted.
12/12/2017 06:19:48 pm
Lol! And if your kids are like mine, they all have a different set of memories. Congratulations! You have been entered in the Refresh Breakaway 2018 drawing.
12/13/2017 03:40:32 pm
One thing that we started about 12 years ago is, I directed a play for a homeschool academy (I wrote the play) and I used my father-in-love to record the Christmas story that to be played during part of the play. We have used that recording to listen to the Christmas story each year since. Now that my father-in-love isn’t doing good health-wise, it means so much more to us and now as my kids are grown and 2 of the 3 married, I’ve made them a recording so they have it for their families and can continue should they desire to.
12/13/2017 06:05:23 pm
What a wonderful idea to pass along your heritage and a precious gift to future generations! Congratulations! You have been entered in the Refresh Breakaway 2018 drawing.
12/14/2017 01:17:07 pm
Good article! I enjoy seeing my grown children enjoy being together when they come home to my house. They enjoy giving, but in different ways. And the grandchildren seem to enjoy bring us grandparents gifts. Altho we know they are also from our children who provide the budget!
12/15/2017 08:41:12 am
Congratulations, Sandra! You have been entered in the Refresh Breakaway 2018 drawing.
12/18/2017 09:53:21 am
I really liked this article. Good reminder that the activities and busyness are not or should not be our main focus but instead the joy of Christmas! The thing that brings me the most joy this season is when we are all at home sitting around in the living room together just enjoying each others company.
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