What was your Christmas like growing up?

Maybe you had wonderful family memories of extravagant lunches, loads of family around the Christmas tree, gifts and giving.  Maybe it was full of extended family, road tripping to the grandparents or overseas trips. Or maybe your experience was lonely or difficult, maybe you were between homes or families or it included domestic violence. Maybe your Christmas childhood memories aren’t ones filled with happiness and joy. No matter what our past experiences are, we always have the power and choice to change our future. As we begin to parent, sometimes the memories of our own childhood come to mind. Whether our childhood experiences were wonderful or hard, we can create a new legacy for our own children around Christmas. 

Where do you start?

Deciding your own family values and beliefs around Christmas is a great place to begin. When we first began our little family, one value that I wanted to see in my own children was thankfulness. I also wanted them to know that Christmas was about Jesus, not presents, santa, reindeer or elves. I wanted them to understand that we give gifts to one another because we celebrate the birth of Jesus, who is our greatest gift. One way we did this was by starting a tradition of retelling the Christmas story before we open any presents on Christmas morning. What kid isn’t over-excited and full of energy on Christmas morning and keen to start opening gifts?? We used that excitement and energy to place Jesus at the centre and help our kids learn to retell the story of Jesus’ birth. By beginning our Christmas morning this way, we hoped to remind our children that Jesus’s birth is what we are celebrating. Another tradition we began, and have kept for the 21 years of raising our kids, is around opening gifts. We hand out one gift to each family member and then open the one gift at the same time. We then take time to share in the joy of what each person received. This has been such a beautiful way to keep the wonder and awe of thankfulness in the room. Instead of succumbing to the materialism of ripping gifts open and each person indulging in what they have received, we hoped to build a culture where thankfulness and celebrating the joy of what others have received is valued and cherished.

There are so many ways we can build our own family legacy’s at Christmas time, and they don’t have to be expensive. It’s about finding ways to establish your family values in the things that you do together. Baking Christmas goodies for neighbours or family (giving), going on a walk to see the Christmas lights in your neighbourhood (connection), making Christmas cards together (thoughtfulness), creating a jar for people to write kind notes to one another during December (thankfulness), setting up a nativity scene together (kingdom), watching Christmas movies together (we loving doing this!), there are endless ideas!

Just remember that as a family you have the power to create the culture and legacy of Christmas that places Jesus at the centre of it all. What a beautiful gift to establish in the hearts of your children forever.  May your homes be filled with the powerful legacy of a Christmas centred around Jesus this year!

Mandy Furlong

Residing in Queensland, Mandy Furlong is a passionate advocate for building families that are thriving, and creating legacies for the kingdom of God for generations to come. A wife, mother to 5 incredible children, primary teacher, homeschooler & ordained pastor, Mandy lives to see people understand the power and gift of relationships and community. For more encouragement follow @raisingrevivalists.

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