The Meaning of the Season

Photo: DaySpring

As much as I love all the decorating ideas, and look forward to the food and gifts, I am always trying to keep a balance in my home on what is truly important. Focusing on a season of gratitude and giving, and because we are a Christian family, I want my kids to celebrate the birth of Jesus during Christmas and all that means to our faith. Both Thanksgiving next week and Christmas next month are great opportunities to teach our kids or grandkids the deeper lessons and meaning of the holidays.

But, how do we do that creatively and effectively? It is really hard to keep the reasons for the season in focus for kids, especially as children start making their gift lists based on what they saw on TV, in the mall or what their friends are talking about. The season starts to look more like the season of greed rather than gratitude, love for others or an observance of religious beliefs.

Photo: DaySpring

I’m curious to gather up some ideas in the comments for how YOU all engage and inspire your children in the meaning of the holidays. I know some of you have addressed this issue in your blogs, but if you don’t mind sharing an idea or two here for what your family has done through the holidays with your family, I’d love the inspiration!

In fact, I’m going to put a Mr. Linky here so if you write a post on ideas for making the holidays meaningful for your family, beyond decorating or gift giving (or how you handle gifts so they don’t get out of control), feel free to link up the posts here over the next few weeks. We will still do the Friday Holiday Linky, but this specific Mr. Linky is for “the reason for the season” kind of posts related to the holidays. Please link only to those kinds of posts. If anyone needs some inspiration they can check through the links.

Meanwhile, if you want to read about my crazy method for holiday shopping (and let me know if I am the only one who shops like that!) and get some gift ideas, you are invited to head on over to HomeGoods for today’s post!

DaySpring is a great resource for inspirational gifts and products. They recently sent me a wonderful box of gifts and I can tell you without hesitation that they are high quality, beautiful items. I encourage you to take advantage of their discount offer and find gifts or items for yourself! Both of the images in this post are from DaySpring. Click the button and use the discount code if you want to do some shopping!

Please link to specific posts (even if they are in your archives) sharing your ideas for keeping your family focused on the meaning of the holiday season! Or, simply share them in the comments!

 

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Comments

  1. Really great idea, my friend. I will definitely do a post on some of our Christmas traditions.

    We have a set of ornaments called Adornaments. I think I got them from Family Life. Each one discusses a different name for Christ (lion, lamb, door, etc.) There are 12 and we do a couple of them each night leading up to Christmas.

    Also, I try to keep the gift madness a little more managable (at least in our house. Can’t control the grandparents) by giving each child 3 gifts. Jesus received 3 gifts. So we receive 3 gifts.

  2. The post I chose is from last Christmas. I hope it gives you an idea for a tradition for your family.

    Terri Steffess inspiring blog post..The Big 5-0 Continues….

  3. My daughter has always loved stuffed animals & reading. So, this year, we paired it up & are spearheading a “literacy drive” in our community. It was a nice way to “give back” & share something that is so important to her.

    I’ll blog about it upon completion!

    Jinxs inspiring blog post..A "Charming" Addition to the Table

  4. I’m very excited to see what everyone shares here!

    We have a little manger that I set up where the kids can see and touch it at any time and it is a reminder of what this time means.

    My sister and my niece make Jesus a birthday cake every year and that’s her way of reminding her daughter just whose day we are all celebrating.

    Off to homegoods :)

  5. We do the Jesse tree and theAdvent house every night in December. The Jesse tree especially keeps us focused.

    Hey I have a question. My girlfriend told me that its not proper to put white candles in the house as part of your decor. She said they should always be colored. I had a tall iron tower type thing that held 2 candles one on top of each other. It was made for the big fat round candles. I had white ones in it she said that is always a decorating no no. What are your thoughts on this?

    Mrs darlings inspiring blog post..Hear the snow crunch, See the kids munch,

  6. Your blog is truly inspiring. It is wonderful that you affect so many with your words and ideas. All the best to you and your family this holiday season.

    sushi2s inspiring blog post..Casual Attire

  7. Hi Melissa, this is great…I posted about a Christmas planner to help us keep on track…but we play Christmas music that is uplifting to the soul…I have a small or big Nativity in every room…we also have a sign outside with hay near our barn…. But most of all we have a tradition of giving to another family always with children, cooking a meall for needy family’s. We just cook double, usually get a couple extra presents for children, we try to do double so we are always prepared to give!
    Blessigs,
    Debbie

    Debbie @ ribbonwoods inspiring blog post..Black and Pink Christmas planner-2

  8. I’m looking forward to reading all of the comments and links for this post. We have only been a family for five years. We have six kids and a new daughter in law so we are still creating our Christmas traditions. I posted about how we are teaching our youngest girls about the meaning of Christmas by using some toys that they love.

    Sharons inspiring blog post..The Meaning Of The Season

  9. Hi Melissa:

    Great question for all…how do we make sure we keep the true reason for the season in mind.

    We are a family of Jesus lovers too! So, the true meaning for us is about the birth of Jesus and his many gifts to us. We start with the decorating. While we decorate we talk about why we use evergreens: They stay green all year and don’t change except for growing bigger and stronger. Just like just like Christ’s love for us always stays and he desires our love for him to grow bigger and stronger. We talk about the colors while we put ornaments on the tree. Red: Christ’s blood was shed for our sins. Yellow/Gold: Heaven’s streets of gold await us thanks to Christ’s sacrifice. Blue: God so loved the world (since globes are green and blue…we had to stretch on this one). White: His sacrifice washes us white as snow. OH! Snowmen. By washing us white as snow, he makes us snowmen through his sacrifice (I just made that one up right now!). If we use a color that we haven’t given a meaning to yet, then we make one up together (Pink: Jesus even loves girls….I have an 8 yr. old boy you know)! This gets us talking about the true reason for the season and makes a creative fun time decorating together.

    We also do a birthday cake every year and leave a piece out for Santa who loves to celebrate Jesus’ birthday and have a kid friendly nativity that can be played with, arranged and re-arranged. It isn’t the most decorative set, but when your kid gets all excited about setting it up and tells you the story, it becomes the most beautiful set.

    Sorry for the long comment. I get all excited about kid and Jesus stuff!
    Have a good day!
    Tawnya

  10. just read your HomeGoods story about hunting- I mean shopping. I do that too!!! I get all excited and the ideas start coming- I can redecorate a room in one shopping excursion (of course I have to put it all back due to budget-but hey its fun stuff) I also LOVE going to really expensive boutiques and try to duplicate what they have from Marshalls, TJMaxx or Hobby Lobby. I like a challenge.
    LOVE reading your stuff! your awesome! My dear real-life friend from We Are That Family got me hooked on your site. :-)

  11. Oh, I love those candles you pictured…I wonder how you could make those into a DIY project….

    Mrs. Qs inspiring blog post..Twenty Minutes of Grace…

  12. Our family focuses on giving, instead of getting, because Jesus said that it’s better to give than receive. Here are a few things we are doing this season to obey Him.
    1) We ring the Salvation Army Bell (Red Pot).
    2) In December, every year, we help SA again with their toydistribution.
    3) We take goodie platters to Miracle Hill, a homeless rehab center.
    4)We try to learn of one family in our church that could use some extra and send them a Wal-Mart gift card anonymously.
    As far as gift for each other, we usually pick one large item we all can share (presents from years past): Nintendo Game Cube, pet ferrets, trip to Hershey Park, my Honda CR-V, living room furniture.
    The grandparents usually give the kids cash, so they can get what they personally want…
    Have a Peace and Joy-filled season, everyone!! And give.

  13. I so agree – it is the meaning of Christmas and not all the fuss and gifts, that truly matters. My husband and I don’t have children, but we also celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas. One thing I enjoy is the Christmas Eve service (candlelit) that our church has each year. I love to see the families come together. We also do an angel tree and the shoebox program for needy children. I think that is a great way to teach kids the meaning of Christmas and helping others. Let them do the shoebox project and pick gifts for a needy child.

    We have worked with various children’s groups at our church over the years and I started a bit of a tradition for one of the groups, it’s a Happy Birthday Jesus party. I have precious memories of seeing those little faces, so earnest as they sing happy birthday to Jesus, over the glow of birthday cake candles. Jesus is the greatest gift of all.

    tina

  14. We are still working on the “how” of teaching the true meaning of Christmas to my kids. Our kids are still young, (we have 5 between the ages of 8 and 8 months) and some of them are in school where all the talk is about Santa and what you’re going to get.

    So this year we made a new “rule”…our kids can talk about their “list” all they want until Thanksgiving. Next Thursday we will take the day to really focus on Gods goodness to us. And then we will focus on His gift of Jesus and what it really means for us. We will talk of giving to others but there will be no “I want’s” from our kids.

    I also like the idea of 3 gifts because that is the number of gifts the wise men brought Jesus. Now I know that the wise men didn’t really come at His birth, but I still like how it ties into the whole story and the symbolism of it.

    These are not lofty plans, but they are a start for us and my prayer is that my kids see Christ during this season not as a result of our planning, but inspite of it.

    Stephanies inspiring blog post..Sam and the Wigwam

  15. The kids are all grown now and the holidays are a bit more quiet. Last year I
    made an adult version of an advent calender on a 12X12 tin tile. The 25 days
    of december each have a 1.5 square with a “task” for the day in a flip up/tag/envelop. The daily “task” helped me remember the reason to celebrate and bring back the sense of wonder. Last year was such a joy to be reminded to stop and “be in the moment” of how special the holiday season can be.

  16. Hi Melissa,

    How awesome that you have us thinking about this now! Christmas is my favourite time of year, not because of the decorations and the gift giving but because of the feelings of love and hope that surround it. In the depths of winter Christmas reminds us of the light.

    I have a few tradtions that I’ll be blogging about in the weeks to come that bring special meaning to the season – but there are two I’d love to share here.

    The first is that no matter how our family has been doing financially over the years I have always put Christmas money aside to do a hamper. I usually ask for a small, young family and we have so much fun shopping, and tucking in little notes from “Santa.” As my son has gotten older, he now contributes some of his own money to the hamper and buys a few gifts.

    I’ve been asked over the years why we do it by friends who think its “cliche” to do a hamper but I always tell them, it’s not about the gifts, it’s about the hope. The acknowledgement that there are people in the community who care.

    My other tradition is to listen to Kathy Mattea’s Christmas album while baking. I’ll be stirring cookie dough using my grandma’s old bowls and singing “Mary Did you Know” or “New Kid in Town” and be filled with the most amazing sense of peace and well being.

    Which just goes to show, God’s love exists everywhere – even in my kitchen :-)

    Mavens inspiring blog post..My Bucket List

  17. Hi Melissa,

    What a fabulous idea for a post! We’re not a particularly religious family (we’re British!) but I do think that the basic tenants of Christanity are a good moral code and ones I want to teach my daughter. We participate in the ‘Operation Christmas Child’ Campaign and it apart from helping second and third world children it also teaches my daughter that Christmas isn’t about what toys she wants, it’s about helping other people and showing them love and kindness.

    She has her own blog (cute for a 5 year old!) and she wrote this about the Campaign ‘Christmas boxes are very important for children because they are poor and they have to have some goodies soon for Christmas. They never ever have a christmas present so if you make a box for them they will be the happiest child on earth.’ which has made me very, very proud. She realises the consequences of helping someone else and that it’s not all about her.

    Liz@VioletPosys inspiring blog post..New Star Trek Trailer

  18. I included a post I wrote last year about Christmas activities I did with my son to help focus on the real reason for why this family celebrates Christmas. Thanks for asking! I need to see others’ ideas because now my two year old boy is three, and it will open up more activities I’m sure. Gotta get planning for our December!

    Hannah Es inspiring blog post..Busy! But GOOD Busy!

  19. I was shopping with my 4 year old yesterday at Target. We were looking at window decorations for her and the big sisters to put on their own windows. I asked her “Belle, do you want Frosty or the Jesus stickers?” She said, “I’ll take the Jesus ones Mom”. It sounds simple, but she said it with such thought it really touched my heart. We “talk up” Jesus to the girls and our families around the Holidays. This was the first time Belle “talked Jesus up” to me.
    Thanks for the reminder to everyone about keeping Jesus in the center.
    Your blog is so beautiful. I love to look at it every day and it truly makes me happy. You “shine” Jesus through this blog, and I just want to say thanks!

    Michelle Wegners inspiring blog post..Just Give Something

  20. so many wonderful ideas. Wouldn’t it be great if we could take mas out of christmas.

    pams inspiring blog post..Christmas Traditions

  21. What a lovely post. So necessary and so well phrased. Thank you. Would you like to share a glass of lemonade with me? It is waiting for you at my Green Greek blog!
    I really look forward to spend the holiday season with you!

    Irenes inspiring blog post..Enchanting forest

  22. This is a great reminder to begin to think early about what Christmas means. I put up a Mr. Linky to my post about an experience I had last year and something I learned from it.

    Lorrie

  23. Great idea for Mr. Linky. I’ll be looking forward to reading what others do. I did a post today about a way I try to teach my kids about giving. Great minds think alike, on the same day:-) ha. My son is already asking about a few games we play to learn about the story of Jesus. I love that he can’t wait to get them out!

    Amy from Texass inspiring blog post..Toys, Toys and More Toys

  24. My family and I run a mission where we create goody bags for hospitalized kids and children in shelters. So, for the past three years we’ve opted to take all money we would use on gifts for one another and purchase gift items to go within our goody bags for the Christmas season. This has been very instrumental in raising my daughter to be a giver and kind – hearted young lady.

    Tabithas inspiring blog post..Uplifting Your Spirit

  25. The advent calendar I posted on the last Mr. Linky, will eventually be filled with scriptures and questions about the Savior’s birth, so that instead of a daily dose of candy, the kids will get a daily dose of the real spirit of Christmas.

    Since I already linked to that post, this time I linked to our “Gratitude Tree” that we have been working on all month. It is so important to remember how blessed we really are!

    Kendras inspiring blog post..Tablescape Tuesday–A pumpkin Thanksgiving

  26. I linked, but I’ll cut and paste the text here, too:

    ELEANOR ZWEIGLE’S ADVENT STUDY

    (as found on Miiko Gibson’s blog, Our Grace Journey)

    JESSE TREE

    Tracing Jesus’ earthly bloodline from the Garden of Eden

    JESUS BIRTHDAY PARTY

    Christmas Eve day we bake Jesus a birthday cake and decorate it with whatever goodies we have in the kitchen. We set it aside for Christmas morning. You’ll see why as you read on.

    VISITING THE MANGER

    After the children go to bed on Christmas Eve, while hubby puts together the toys that need a screwdriver, I line up our slippers by the back door and hide Baby Jesus (a naked plastic baby doll wrapped in an old teatowel) in a toybox full of hay left over from fall.

    Christmas morning, the magic of coming down the stairs is turned from finding gifts to finding Baby Jesus. My kids run to the back door, eager to brave the cold to bring in Baby Jesus to warm Him by the fire. After they dress him, we sing Happy Birthday Jesus and eat cake to celebrate. It is our favorite part of Christmas Day!

    BUSY HANDS

    Growing up, my favorite Christmas gifts were ones I could toy with all day. Art supplies and craft kits kept me quietly busy in a magical way into the cool, dark afternoon. This year I plan to put together craft supplies we already own in little self-contained craft kits. A few pieces of fabric, a pair of scissors, and some fabric glue to make dollhouse furnishings. Cardboard cereal boxes, scissors, wrapping paper and tape to create box-cars or Webkinz homes. Small mittens cut from felt, white embroidery floss, glitter glue, and white hanging ribbon to create a cute winter banner for our dining room.

    Debs inspiring blog post..Consumer Confidence? A New Series is Coming…

  27. I love this post. Sometimes we get so busy with the hustle and bustle we forget to take time and celebrate the real, true meaning of Christmas.

    I also enjoyed your post at HomeGoods.

    Your blog is so inspiring.

    Karol :0)

    Karols inspiring blog post..A Crate & Barrel Thanksgiving

  28. We reserve Christmas Day for Jesus. It is his birthday, and we celebrate it as his day, with song and scripture. Our personal family holiday is kept for another day, usually Christmas Eve, so that Christmas Day isn’t taken up with thinking about ourselves.

    Our tree is decorated with Jesus, and other ornaments that bring Jesus to our mind. We set up our creche, and give it pride of place, with candles surrounding.

    And we sponsor a family every year, who would otherwise not be having much of a holiday.

    muralimanohars inspiring blog post..Got it…

  29. A close friend of mine has engaged the “3 gifts” for their children in accordance to the “3 wisemen” They usually do something to wear, something to read and something to play with, even now that their children are teens they have to it. Many of my other friends have followed this plan.

    dawns inspiring blog post..My kitchen color goal!

  30. Stuck to it I mean~

    dawns inspiring blog post..My kitchen color goal!

  31. Thanks for doing this! I look forward to reading what others do to celebrate jesus’ birth!

    Darlenes inspiring blog post..The Reason for the Season

  32. i have enjoyed so much reading everyones ideas! i also posted ours too :) thanks melissa…this is sooo fun!

    shelbis inspiring blog post..:: my new etsy crushes ::::

  33. Since it is still a week before Thanksgiving, I have another Autumn/Thanksgiving decorating post:

    http://bugzmommy.blogspot.com/2008/11/thankful-thursday.html

    I LOVE reading and seeing all the beautiful ideas out there! You all are inspiring!

    Bugzmommys inspiring blog post..Thankful Thursday…

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