Tis the season to drag the boxed pre-lit tree down the rickety attic ladder. Or wrap the kids in scarves and mittens to head to the tree farm with axe and cocoa in hand. Or maybe you just drive to the local Home Depot and select the fullest 7-8’ Douglas Fir from the tented lot for $49.99.
However you do it, trimming the tree is a best-loved tradition as December dawns.
Though it’s an age-old practice, dating back to the 16th century and often attributed to Martin Luther, bedecking an evergreen tree is ritual of significance for most families. Wives, hands on hips, stand back just far enough to see and cock their heads to the left, then the right, to direct husbands to the exact magical spot the tree must hold in its pre-eminent place in the living room. Ladders are propped, lights are looped, paper-crafted and glittered glass ornaments are hung alike.
And in my childhood, family anticipation mounted until the last ornament was hung and the glistening star was appointed on the tallest branch because then we all stepped back, my dad turned out every light in the room except for the tree, and we admired our handiwork with ooohs and ahhhs.
Traditions are helpful when they create togetherness around an activity of meaning. But what if traditions are void of meaning….or even lead to conflict, as has happened in our family’s Christmases past. What if the plethora of cute and whimsical snowmen, reindeer, and other modernday characters obscure the essence of Christmas to the point that it becomes meaningless? Or maybe your kids are just confused with the lack of balance between the real story of the baby Jesus and the abundance of entertaining movies and stories and songs that focus on everything but Jesus.
A year ago, I met a kindred spirit friend who told me this was her story. One day Allison stopped to ask herself this question, “Why are we doing all of this?”
Though her four young kids looked forward to the annual tree decorating day, Allison couldn’t get past what seemed like a distraction from the real message she and her husband were trying to teach in their home. Sure, the tree was beautiful, magical, whimsical, and festive. But was it truthful? Was the focus of attention during the month of December, their Christmas tree, about Jesus?
Further questions formed in Allison’s thinking. Was it obvious to holiday guests what she and her husband believed? Was their outward practice of Christmas so like everyone else even though their hearts and souls were transformed by the hayborn Savior? Did their tree proclaim visions of sugarplums, toys and hobbies, and even affluence, or did it tell of God’s amazing gift of Jesus on that first Christmas morning?
Allison couldn’t escape her conclusions.
And she couldn’t figure out how to modify the tradition they had begun with so little thought.
So Allison decided only a drastic change would work: she got rid of the family tree and all the holiday decorations, except for the manger scene. For three years her family celebrated Christmas with no Christmas tree. Allison waited and searched for a way to magnify Jesus, the real reason we celebrate Christmas day.
Then she stumbled across the Adorenaments from us, here at Ever Thine Home. She shared that finally she found a way to keep her Christmas beautiful and festive, but focused on the real reason for all the warmth and cheer Christmastime brings.
Allison and thousands of women like her are exactly why I created Adorenaments. My dream is to help families put the focus back on Christ as the center of Christmas.
If you’re finding yourself with the same desire as me and Allison and thousands of others, here are a few ideas on how to trim your tree with truth:
1. Choose Christ-centered ornaments. A tree can be glittered and bright, covered in shiny balls and dozens of unrelated random ornaments. But what if the ornaments you hang on your tree declare the names of Jesus? Allison’s first big step in starting new Christmas traditions was buying our ornaments with the names of Jesus. Versatile, multi-use, and non breakable sets of ornaments creatively display various names of the Christ child. Check out His Advent Names, His Royal Names, His Savior Names, and His Name Among the Nations to bedazzle your tree with His names. We have a great discounted price on the 4 set collection.
2. Adorn your tree top with His name too. One of my favorite creations is our Bright Morning Star tree topper. It’s glittered and printed with a name of Jesus found in Revelation 22:16.
3. Involve your kids. Holidays are some of the best times to teach our kids God’s story. If you have young ones try using What God Wants for Christmas, an interactive nativity with six of the key people in the Bethlehem story, Gabriel, Mary, Joseph, Jesus, a shepherd boy and a wise man. Little ones can play with the figures and the backdrop replaying the story they have heard you read in the accompanying book. The book is in poem form to the same rhyme as The Night Before Christmas. If you read it often enough your kids might memorize it and then the story will be with them for life.
All we do at EverThineHome is designed with you in mind. We want to help you proclaim your faith at home to your children and to those who visit during the holidays and all year long. And we hope many of you will be like Allison, who thoughtfully and honestly evaluated their family traditions to make sure they were making the most of the eternal.
May this Christmas be the most memorable because you chose to make the focus of the holiday on the One who came to this broken planet to bring us redemption and new life. May you decorate your home and your tree with truth for His honor!
If you’d like to hear more from our friend Allison Burr, she loves teaching and training her fellow domestic theologians by providing a variety of resources at http://truthbeautygoodness.