What is a Christ-centered Christmas? When our activities and thoughts are focused on the birth of Jesus, we are keeping Christ in Christmas. By focusing our priorities towards the joy and wonder of our coming Lord, each individual heart in the family can feel God’s presence. We’re creating the best Christmas traditions to share with our children, but also enriching our own hearts as mothers. It’s truly the key to having a peaceful and joyous Christmas!
How can we have a Christ-centered Christmas with our kids?
- Keep it Essential
- Celebrate Advent
- Lift Up Christ’s Name
- Center on the Nativity
- Partner with the Holy Spirit
KEEP IT ESSENTIAL
What does “essential” mean to you? It is defined as “what is absolutely necessary and extremely important”. There are way too many holiday-related ways to celebrate Christmas in our secular world. As a mom, it’s overwhelming!
Ask yourself “is this essential?” when you are feeling the pressure to add more activities to your schedule or to put up an Elf on the Shelf. Believe me when I say that your kids will be happier for it. Happy mom = happy kids. That equation never changes.
In reality, children learn best and absorb more when you keep it simple. In Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, it’s all about keeping it simple and essential. We make the environment and materials simple. That way, the children aren’t so distracted by details that they can’t see the big picture. In other words, you don’t need to go all out on decor and pile on a giant list of Christmas traditions. You just need the essential ones for your family.
One way to have an essential focus on Christ during the holiday season is to celebrate Advent. Even if your church doesn’t celebrate Advent, your family can discover the joys of Advent in your own home! It only takes four easy steps. Click here to read my post, 4 Steps for the Best Advent Ever.
I can’t say enough about how I’ve grown to love the season of Advent! We have to wait for Christmas anyway, so why not make that time purposeful and joyous? I think it’s clear to say that here in America, we have a hard time waiting. Every year, you see stores selling holiday decor earlier and earlier, and neighbors putting up their trees sooner. Read my post to see how and why we can shift our focus to Jesus and experience greater peace during December.
LIFT UP CHRIST’S NAME
Whether you’re celebrating Advent or not, December is a perfect time to center on Christ by celebrating His Name. Or names, to be more precise. In the atrium, we often begin our December by introducing the prophet Isaiah who told of Christ’s coming. For our 3-5 year olds, we explain that prophets were close to God and were told special things about God to share with everyone.
They listened deeply to God and told the people that someone was coming.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.Isaiah 9:2
We display a prayer card with those words and say them aloud for the children. Click here to download a free printable prayer card of Isaiah 9:2!
Reflection for Isaiah 9:2
Here are some questions you can ask about these words of Isaiah’s. (Just remember there are no “right answers”, you’re only posing questions and giving your child space to think it through on their own.)
- What did you hear/notice?
- Have you been in the dark? How do you feel when you’re in darkness?
- If it’s dark, can you see where you’re going? How do you find your way?
- The people were waiting for a light. What’s it like to wait? Who are we waiting for?
- What’s it like being in the light?
- I wonder, who could be light Isaiah talked about?
Consider singing a song with your children, such as “This Little Light of Mine”. Here’s a fun version I found on YouTube. And it includes the words, which is helpful for us moms. Or, choose another Advent song that your family enjoys.
A week later you can introduce Isaiah’s verse on the names of Christ. This scripture explores the mystery of who Christ is. We are learning about our Savior to come and what He is like.
For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father Forever, Prince of Peace.Isaiah 9:6
In atrium, we have prayer cards with the names of Jesus from Isaiah 9:6. Click here to download your own printable set of cards!
Reflection for Isaiah 9:6
- What did you hear/notice?
- Did you hear names? How many?
- How does Jesus come to us? (child/baby)
- How do we celebrate Jesus at Christmas?
- Prince of Peace…how can we say a child born in a stable is a prince? A king?
We are learning that Jesus is light, he’s a child, he’s a counselor who gives us advice and helps us make decisions. Jesus is mighty and everlasting. He is a hero. God is our father forever. Lifting up Christ’s name and essence in this way helps us to center more fully on why we celebrate Christmas. Come, Lord Jesus!
And, of course, I have a fun song! Click here for a sing-along version of “Come Lord Jesus”!
CENTER ON THE NATIVITY
Since Christmas is all about the birth of Jesus, it’s important to have it represented visually for your family. Get out your nativity set and display it prominently. Keep the heirloom nativity in a safe space, but consider finding a “playable” set for your children. There are many affordable options at Goodwill, garage sales, Amazon, etc. Or there is a Playskool version my kids still love, even the teens!
Once you have the Nativity up, you can consider reading short passages from the Gospel of Luke with your kids. Luke 1: 26-38 contains the story of the Annunciation, which is a wonderful choice leading up to Christmas. The birth of Jesus is found in Luke 2: 1-20.
In the atrium, we read passages from Luke to the children and move the figures accordingly. You can choose a child to move Mary, for example, or Joseph, while you are reading. They will love the chance to interact with the story!
The Essential Message
The point we’re lifting up to our kids is that Jesus was a real person, born in a real time. God had a special plan to bring all people to Himself. We are introducing salvation history to the children by allowing them to think and ponder over the story of Jesus’ birth.
Don’t worry about explaining too much to your kids (aside from vocabulary). You’re giving them a time and space to contemplate, even if it’s only a few minutes. These minutes matter! In my experience working with kids, even the ones who don’t seem to be paying much attention are somehow absorbing something. It’s the Holy Spirit at work.
PARTNER WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT
As a mom and a Catechist, I can feel inadequate sometimes, especially when I get bogged down in the details. I can get too invested in the children coming to a certain conclusion or learning exactly what I want them to learn, when I want it to happen. (See how many I’s were in that sentence?) I can’t just rely on my own self and my own power for this! I must rely on the Holy Spirit.
Partnering with the Holy Spirit allows your Christmas preparations and activities to be fully centered on Christ. Bring Him in before any reading of Scripture or prayerful reflection with your kids.
“Come Holy Spirit come! Let God’s will be done.”
Rely on the Holy Spirit to work in your child’s heart. You are but a guide for your child’s relationship with Christ. Sometimes it’s hard to release control because we are so invested in doing everything just right for our kids. Don’t forget that your children already have a relationship with God. We are serving to help that relationship grow. You are not the center of this, Christ is. We can rest in that truth and have peace in His promises.
What a joy-filled and exciting time of year this is! But also, so rich in peace. I’m thrilled that you are reading this post and I know your kids are going to love keep Christ in Christmas so much!
For more resources on praying with your kids, check out my post 4 Easy Steps for Teaching Your Kids to Pray. I’ve included more free printable prayer cards, suitable for any time of the year. I designed these to use with even your youngest kids too.
Looking to dive deeper into Scripture this holiday season? Consider adding Lectio Divina prayer into your prayer routine. It’s a great weekly option, especially wonderful to do with Sunday’s Gospel. Or anytime! Here’s How to Pray the Lectio Divina, with a free printable guide!
Happy Advent and Merry Christmas!