As born-again Christians, Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ. And while we do decorate and give gifts at Christmas, I have found myself thinking back to, and in some ways imitating, what I saw in my mother during the Christmas season. 

As we decorated (and believe me, my mother decorated like she was competing for a magazine cover), everything was given a spiritual meaning.

Mom had slate blue fabric ornaments for a while in the 80’s that were in several different shapes. As my sister and I would put them on the tree, she would tell us the spiritual significance of why that shape had been chosen as a decoration. 

The baby carriage represented the Baby Jesus and His birth. 

The present box represented God’s gift to the world through His Son.

The round ball represented the world that Jesus came to save. 

The candy cane shaped ornament (also in slate blue fabric) represented the shepherds.

The lights on the tree and house stood for Jesus being the light of the world. 


Thinking back, I don’t remember the last time we used those ornaments, and in some ways, I miss them. Maybe they were not the highest fashion in decorations, but my mother had put meaning to them, and that made them special. 

At the time, as we were being questioned to see if we remembered from the year before what each ornament stood for, I can remember thinking with a twinge of attitude, “I know, Mom.” Now, as an adult with my own children, I can understand why my mother used the decorating of the tree to teach us (she used everything as a teaching opportunity).

It can be so easy for December to overwhelm us with activities, concerts, plays, parties, gatherings, shopping, and baking. For children, it can easily become a focus on what they are getting rather than giving. 

My mother made sure that during the decorating, we took a moment and focused on what the value of the celebration was- Jesus.

Yet, how many times does He go forgotten during His own birthday celebration?

I have found myself intentionally, and sometimes unintentionally, pointing out to my children the significance of our decorations. (No, the giant snowman beside the tree has no significance except that he was a gift from Mama to me and for that I love that little guy dearly.) 

When Addie was first becoming aware of the thrill of Christmas, as Brian was setting up the lights, I held her close and told her that we put up the lights because Jesus is the light of the world, and we were celebrating His birthday. 

Now as we set up the tree, I explain that the tree has two parts in the life of Jesus. The first was for the manger that He was put into after He was born, and the second was for the tree that was turned into a cross for Him to die on for our sins. 

When the kids set up the Nativity scene, we discuss who all of the characters were, and we check Scripture to verify the number of magi (Hint: The Bible never specifies how many there were. Matt. 2:1). 

From the very beginning, we have told our children that we give presents to each other to remember the best present of all, Jesus.

Somehow, children, even at a young age, have a tender heart towards God. When Addie was a year old, she loved to give the Baby Jesus a kiss on the head before she would run off to examine her favorite ornaments on the tree, and when I would tell her that He loved her and wanted to live in her heart, she would point to her heart.  

I knew that she was not even 2 years old yet and might not quite “get” everything we were trying to teach her, but the Bible says that the Word of God will not return void. I wanted to make sure that I instilled into her the values that Brian and I hold so dearly, so that as she grew, she could grab a hold of these same values and make them her own.

What do we value during the Christmas holiday?

The fact that God sent His Son to earth as a tiny Baby to live among His Own creation, so that one day He could die to save us from our sin and from an eternal separation from Him. 

That is what I value. 

Not the parties (although they can be fun), the shopping (stressful! and you know how I feel about stress!), baking (then we feel guilty and starve ourselves for the next 6 weeks), or constant blurr of activity (and then we wonder why we dread Christmas the following year). Our children will pick up our values not by what we say but by what they see.

Lord, please let my children see what I value the most, not just during the Christmas season, but throughout the year as well. Please help them to choose You as what they value the most. 

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