Since the time our children were small we taught them that Christmas wasn’t about getting stuff, we didn’t make it about a season of coveting, so presents have always been secondary in our house. We sleep in and then we get up and eat a big breakfast together. We spend time reading the scriptures about Jesus’ birth and the passages about the coming of messiah and we sing. Then someone takes a special stocking off the tree that contains my grandmother’s rosary and tells the story of our family heritage of faith. They remind us of the pastors, nuns, church planters, and faithful Christians that make up that heritage of faith. Then we give Jesus a gift (since it is his “birthday”). We tell each other about how we intend to grow in our faith over the next year. When that is all done, sometime around noon we finally get to our presents. We don’t spend a lot of money either. We save up all year, so that we can pay cash for Christmas and we don’t charge anything because it is about Jesus not materialism. We watch each other open every gift. We celebrate with every person and the receiver of the gift hugs the giver after each gift is given. The gifts are mostly practical and it takes a long time for all of that loving and gratefulness to be expressed. That’s why we need that big breakfast! Then we clean-up the tree mess and head to the kitchen to prepare a feast. It's not spectacular but it has put Christ into our Christmas.
My kids still tell me that Christmas is better at our house than their friends house. They didn’t miss 5 a.m. present grabs; they got the best gift of all, growing up with a Christ-centered Christmas. You don’t need to do what the Hester family does. You make your own traditions. But let’s be the joy-givers in the holidays, not the joy-killers. Let’s not rail about what isn’t good enough, or what is too materialistic, or too secular. You be the Christmas spirit you want to see in the world around you.