Let Them Eat Cake—And Other Jesus-Centered Christmas Traditions for Kids

0 comments Posted on December 1, 2015

by Becky Kopitzke

Santa. Rudolph. Frosty. The elves. There’s no shortage of colorful characters to capture a child’s heart this time of year. But what about the One who started this whole Christmas business in the first place? Where does He fit in?

If Jesus is just another character in our holiday festivities, it’s time to examine our own hearts as parents. In my house, I want to make Christmas matter in the deepest sense. True Christmas magic isn’t created with make-believe; it’s revealed in the real-life Savior. Highlighting Jesus as the focal point of Christmas can be a whole lot more fun than jolly ol’ Saint Nick—and far more meaningful.

Here are four simple ways you can make this Christmas matter in your home.

1. Read the Christmas story

Luke 2:1–21 gives a beautiful account of the birth of Jesus. Read it together as a family, and invite the kids to act out the manger scene with a nativity set. Emphasize to your children that, unlike Santa or Rudolph, this story is true. It really happened! And because Jesus was born, lived the perfect life, died and rose again, we can be in heaven with God one day if we believe on His Son. That is why we celebrate Christmas.

2. Make a kindness list

Christmas is not about me.

Say it with me now.

Christmas is not about me.

We can know this in theory, but beneath our pile of presents to wrap and recipes to bake and decorations to hang, it sure can feel like the family’s holiday cheer depends on us.

9781634095242Newsflash, ladies. Jesus didn’t come to frost cookies. He came to love lost people.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

In the purest sense, real holiday cheer is as simple as showing God’s love to others. One of the most effective ways I’ve found to do this is through acts of kindness.

This concept is practically trendy these days. Last week the car in front of me paid for my mocha at the Starbucks drive-through, and it was the highlight of my day. But kindness goes beyond lattes. Try cooking a meal for a neighbor, making cards for nursing home residents, passing out candy canes to haggard store clerks, and so much more. Last year my kids and I delivered a box of homemade treats to the police station on Christmas Eve. I don’t know who enjoyed it more—the officers or us.

Now, as a mom, my underlying question of course is—what are my kids learning? Are these acts of kindness impressing on their hearts and teaching them that indeed “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:25)?

Well, one day last December at a random, unexpected moment, I got my answer. Sitting at my desk in the home office, I overheard my four-year-old in the living room tell her babysitter: “Did you know Christmas isn’t all about presents? It’s about kindness and how we celebrate God’s birthday!”

Praise God. Christmas is not about me.

3. Let them eat cake

In our house, Christmas is a birthday party. And you know what that means. Cake!

Every year, my family bakes a birthday cake for Jesus. This helps us keep our focus on the true reason for Christmas, plus it adds an extra bit of fun to the festivities. Here are a few ways to make your birthday cake activity extra special, and to stretch the value of that cake for all it’s worth.

  • Bake together. We don’t just eat the cake; we make the baking process a party in itself. First, my kids get to decide what flavor cake and frosting they want, as well as what shape—9×13 pan, two-tiered round, or cupcakes. They help with mixing and measuring and making a mess. Then once our cake is baked and cooled, they get the honor of decorating it. That means I frost and they sprinkle—and sprinkle and sprinkle and sprinkle. Besides church, this is their favorite activity on Christmas Eve.
  • Purchase a store-bought cake. If you like the idea of a birthday cake for Jesus but you don’t want yet another to-do on your list, buy one. Why? Because it’s a wonderful witness. I know a woman who orders her cake from the grocery store every year simply because it opens the door to share Jesus with others. The bakery staff remarks, what a sweet idea. Other shoppers see her wheeling a huge cake box in her cart with “Happy Birthday, Jesus” scrolled in red icing. For some of those people, that may be the only moment throughout the season in which they make the connection between Christmas and Jesus.
  • Eat dessert for breakfast! Who says Santa is the only reason kids get giddy about Christmas morning? As soon as the presents are ripped open and our bellies start rumbling, my husband and kids and I light those birthday candles and sink our forks into some gooey birthday cake for breakfast. We look forward to it all year round!

4. Give a gift to Jesus

Christmas is a time for exchanging presents. Jesus gives us the gift of Himself. This year, consider giving Him a birthday present in return. Not because we need to repay Him for what He’s done (we could never afford to), but simply because we love Him. And we want to teach our kids that Christmas is not just about getting but giving as well—especially giving to Jesus.

Here’s how.

Have everyone in your family choose one “gift” to give to Jesus. Ask them to write their gift on a slip of paper. Your gift could be:

  • An action or virtue (for example, “I’ll be kinder to my sister”)
  • A worry (your job anxieties, health concerns, your fear of heights—whatever traps you; entrust it to Jesus)
  • A personal sacrifice (maybe an unhealthy habit or idol)
  • A pursuit or dream (your hopes for a baby, a goal to start a business or run a marathon)

Then place these slips of paper in your stockings as your Christmas offering to Jesus. It’s a symbolic way to commit this Christmas—and all year long—to our Savior.

So what do you say? Are you ready to make this Christmas matter for eternity? I am, too. Let’s sing it together:

Happy birthday to You!

Happy birthday to You!

Happy birthday, dear Jesus!

Happy birthday to You!

Becky Kopitzke is the author of The SuperMom Myth: Conquering the Dirty Villains of Motherhood (Shiloh Run Press). On her devotional blog, www.beckykopitzke.com, she offers weekly encouragement for fellow imperfect moms, pointing our weaknesses, blessings, and victories to God.

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