I have fond memories of Christmas from my growing up years. I remember getting up early on Christmas morning and putting my feet on cold wood floors, knowing that Mama and Daddy had already lit the gas heaters to cut the chill. I recall the anticipation of waiting to open the gifts that had been put under our tree during the night. They were always wrapped in red Santa paper.  Only Mama, Daddy, and my sisters will understand what I’m talking about.  I remember Daddy reading the Christmas story in the later years. My heart smiles when I think of always getting a baby doll and  loving whatever else t­hat I received. It wasn’t about what the gift was but instead what my parents had purchased just for me. During the season, it was our practice to participate in the Christmas program at church.  Mama and Daddy usually had a main part and Cathy, Jennifer, and I memorized the part that suited our age. I loved going to our Christmas program practices. What fun!  What memories!

We established our own memories with our children, some of which were passed to us from our parents. We chose to celebrate Christmas earlier in the month so that we could continue the trip to Alabama to see our parents and be a part of the holidays there.  Christmas Day for us was whatever day suited our schedule.  We would wake up the kids that morning with, “Merry Christmas.  Today is Christmas Day.”  The kids would go to school excited, knowing that when they returned home the Christmas celebration would begin.

Our Christmas celebration always began with family devotions. Dad read the Christmas story; we sang Christmas carols, and then we all prayed in age order.  I have sweet memories of those prayers kneeling around the coffee table holding hands.  After devotion was over, the present opening began in the order that we chose for that year–one person, one present at the time, making the opening last for a couple of hours, enjoying the conversation and making an event out of the money spent.  One thing that I enjoyed doing was to wrap the presents in a particular paper for each child. No names were on the paper, and the paper wasn’t revealed as to whose it was until the moment of passing out the presents. I actually learned this from my mother-in-law.  No one was allowed to touch the presents.  I would move them around every couple of days so that the children could view the size and shape of the presents without touching.  This practice built excitement, making the whole process enjoyable and memorable.

One of my favorite practices was to hang Jesus’ stocking with our stockings on the mantle. Every night at devotions, Dad would give the children money to add to Jesus’ stocking for His birthday present. They earned this money by obeying and having a good attitude. We counted the money at the appropriate time and added it to the money we gave in the Christmas Gifts for Christ offering at church.

The focus of Christmas was to teach and train our children that celebrating the birth of Jesus was prominent. It was all about Him. Although we gave gifts to each other, it wasn’t our desire for our children to have a selfish or worldly view of Christmas. The same is true for us today. It is our desire that we as an entire family continue to put Christ first at Christmas.

A Christlike Christmas is based on John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

I would like to challenge all parents and grandparents to step up this year and put Christ first at your Christmas celebration.What kind of memories will you make this CHRISTmas?

M      Make Memories.

E       Emphasize Christ.

M      Move forward. Use the past to build upon but don’t live in the past.

O      Organize for a less stressful month.

R       Recognize your role and do it intentionally.

Y       You are the key to a CHRISTlike Christmas!