Christmas 2020 is marked by canceled trips, limited parties, and no school programs, but we can still celebrate with our families. I love Christmas! When I was a little girl, I would pick up baby Jesus from the nativity set and rock him in my arms. More than anything, I wanted to be a mother one day. And now that I am a mother and get to serve mothers, I love that the path of salvation came to our families through the incredible example of a nurturing family. Research has shown that nurturing caregiving helps our children thrive.
Mary embraced motherhood as a blessing. She had the incredible joy of feeding the one who would feed and care for the world! Even though she was especially chosen for the task, she needed a support system. When the angel told Mary she would be the mother of Jesus, he also told her that her cousin, Elizabeth, was expecting a baby in her old age. God provided an older woman who understood what Mary was going through to encourage her on her journey of motherhood. Motherhood, though an incredible privilege and joy, is not an easy job. I love that even in the Christmas story, God reminds us that we need friends to help us through.
The very fact that God included Joseph in the story of the birth of Christ, shows the important role fathers play in raising children. Joseph was a righteous man who listened to God. Joseph cared more about obeying God than about what other people thought. He was willing to raise and call his own a child that didn’t carry his genetic code. Joseph protected his family. A call to fatherhood is a call to step up and be the kind of man you want your son to become or the type of man you want your daughter to marry one day.
Infancy, toddlerhood, and childhood is an incredibly humbling experience. We come into the world completely dependent on our parents. The God of the universe chose to humble himself to experience full humanity so that he could give his life to save us (Philippians 2). Children are to be enjoyed! As an adult Jesus welcomed the children, saying “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Luke 2: 16-17)
Here are some ways to nurture family relationships through the holidays:
- As parents, decide what aspects of the holiday you want to emphasize in your home. Build traditions around your values. For instance, in our home I like to emphasize the Biblical story of Jesus’ birth at Christmas. So, a tradition we have adopted is to read the Christmas story as a family directly from the Bible on Christmas Eve.
- Include your children in holiday preparations. Kids love decorating, as it’s a sign a party is coming and every child loves a party! They will appreciate the special meal you prepared so much more if you have involved them in cooking it. Gifts become about giving when they help you pick out the perfect gift for their brother or sister.
- Set aside time to play with your kids on the holidays. After watching them open their present, sit on the ground with them and play. Toys are so much more fun when they are shared with parents that love them. I know some families that give their kids a board game on Christmas Day and then the whole family plays together.
- Celebrate Christmas with the joy of a child this year! Laugh with your kids when they wake you up way too early on Christmas morning. Cook their favorite dessert. Clap your hands and squeal when they open their present. As you read the Christmas story together, receive it with childlike awe and faith!