Suddenly everything seems to be about Christmas – the shops have stacked their shelves, the sales are on, the decorations are out. There is no doubt that Christmas is one of the biggest bonuses to the retail business. As parents we try to wade through it all and find a balance between keeping our kids eyes on Jesus and having a good family memory making time. Both are valid.
One of the things that I have found helpful when my children were young was to sit back, at the beginning of it all, and reflect on my family; reflect on their heart and prayerfully consider what areas of character or habit I could address that will make this season more pleasant for everyone and helpful for the child. Issues like:
- Orderliness and making room for the gifts we knew they were going to receive
- Love and enjoying the other persons joy in receiving a gift more than dashing through my gifts
- Generosity in planning to give gifts to siblings
- Gratefulness and learning to say thank you properly
- Compassion and giving our family time, or resources to those in need
- Patience and waiting for the right time to open presents and eat food
Character at Christmas Time
Today I’d like to share three thoughts on issues that can affect adult, teen and child alike. If you think any one of these issues would be helpful to address in your family then think carefully about how you can introduce the values and start practicing the outworking well before Christmas day.
Gluttony is excessive eating and/or drinking. Excessive is the key word here – more than we need, above and beyond. How easy that is at this time with Christmas treats all around us. We need to have the discernment to know when to stop and the self-control to stop.
A few things I have said to my kids (boys in particular but not exclusively)
- Are you going back for more because you are hungry or because it is nice? I’m not against them going back for seconds simply because the food is delicious but I want them to know the difference and to think about what they are doing.
- When you go back for seconds consider other people who may also want some more. Either offer to serve others, or only take a portion of what is left in the pot.
Two verses we can use in our instruction:
Philippians 3:19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with mindset on earthly things.
Proverbs 25:16 If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it.
When we are so focused on food, on satisfying our immediate senses, then we do have our mind on earthly things – and in particular me and my wants. Gluttony is certainly an issue of selfishness. The Bible though tells us how to address this – eat only enough.
Discontent is not being happy with what we have, always looking over the fence and wishing for more, for different, for better. Discontent is a real slap in the face for God – He is our provider and our discontent is a grumble against Him.
The commercialism of Christmas is a real challenge to a grateful and content heart. When we see the attitude of discontent starting to brew we need to nip it in the bud straight away. One thing I talk to my kids about when they start to look longingly at catalogues and TV commercials is – You are getting an attack of the wants. And I get them to walk away from the temptation. I’m okay with window shopping and even being able to indicate things that you like, but as soon as your heart wants it and you start focusing on it, that is not a good place to be.
When my kids were young we didn’t have wish lists for Christmas. To my mind that made them think on what they might receive, let alone open them up to disappointment and ungratefulness when they didn’t get what was on their list. Instead we made Giving Lists as they focused on what they could give to their family. My kids are older now and I do ask them for ideas for gifts we could give them but even still, if they start obsessing we take away that privilege.
Psalm 107:1 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever!
Ephesians 5:20 Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ
Laziness is an easy attitude to fall into during holiday times. Holidays are a break from the normal pressures of life but reality is some things still need to be done. Laziness comes from an attitude that says other people owe me. Family life is built on the premise that we are here to help each other. They are two opposing attitudes!
2 Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.
Proverbs 18:9 Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys.
There needs to be clear expectations of what chores need to be done over family rest and celebration times, and there needs to be consequences for those who don’t pull their weight. Laziness is another issue of selfishness – a focus on my need for rest and what other people should be doing for me. Based on the above proverb we can teach our children that they are destroying family fun or family time, that their actions affect others. Life isn’t all about them and neither is Christmas time.
And whatever you do, do it heartily,
as to the Lord, and not unto men.
This is my key verse for this Christmas. I want everything that happens in my home done as worship unto the Lord… how we celebrate, how we build family memories, how we interact with other people, how we share the blessings God has given us, how we make people feel special, how we look after those in need, how I prepare my house and table, how we do everything….because the Lord has been good to me!
How to Teach Character: Teaching our kids character is giving them heart-based life skills that will benefit them for their whole life.
Seeing God Every Day – and Sharing it with our kids: Every day is full of opportunity to introduce our children to God and his truth. We need to use the things we see and do as object lessons to teach the heart of our kids.
Why not have Christmas Every Day? If Christmas is more than food, decorations and presents – if Christmas really is about Jesus then why not everyday?