Finding what fits your family at Christmas
We've all given or received a Christmas present that didn't fit quite right, maybe a gigantic jumper or a tiny T-shirt. However beautiful the item of clothing is, if it's not a good fit for us right now, it's not a great gift.
Finding ways to focus on God at Christmas can be the same. We so want to get it right, but sometimes we pick up something that looked good in someone else's family and try to squeeze our family into the same mould. Or perhaps we're not sure what will fit, so we try to cram in lots of different ideas, and on top of all the extra busyness of plays, parties and present-buying, it just feels overwhelming.
Every family is different, and God has wonderful ways that he wants to connect with yours this Christmas. Here are three pointers to help you discover what they are:
1) Don’t try to do everything
You don’t need to do something just because someone else is doing it, so you feel like you should. You also don’t need to do something just because you’ve always done it, even if it’s not working. If it's not helping you to focus on God and connect with him anymore, feel free to let it go, even if it has been a tradition in your family.
One of the key tools of Parenting for Faith is Surfing the Waves, which is about spotting whatever your child is into at the moment and journeying with them. The wave of your family might be different this year, whether that’s because you’re grieving or adapting to a big life change or because your child has shown an interest in something new.
2) Start with you
Think and pray about how you’d like to focus on God throughout Christmas. Often our default is to think about the kids first, but actually one of the most meaningful things we can do is to work out how we best connect to God and then create a window for them to see that. So that might be a Bible verse stuck by the kettle or on your phone screensaver. It could be planning a break in your Christmas shopping to have a gingerbread latte and share your heart with God. Or, it could be something like donating some time or money to a cause you feel passionate about. Share with your kids what you’re doing and why, and if it works let them see or hear you doing it too.
3) Be led by your kids' interests
Think and pray about what your kids are expressing an interest in right now and how you can give them opportunities to explore that more.
- If they have an interest in social action and justice, they could make a reverse advent calendar
- If they love stories and creating things, you could create a Jesse tree as you read through the Jesus Storybook Bible
- If they love celebration and parties, you could throw Jesus a birthday party
- If they’re big on connection and communication, you could do some Chat and Catch at dinner time.
We would love to hear from you too. Tag us on Facebook or Twitter using #ourfamilyfit to share what you're doing, or choosing not to do, this year. It's great to share ideas with each other and we'd love to celebrate the uniqueness of your family with you.
Don't forget to be realistic about what you can easily fit into the busy life of your family. For many of us, doing something every day will be too much. But maybe we could do something each Sunday during Advent or pick an afternoon during the Christmas holidays to do a one-off thing.
You know your children best - do whatever you think. And if you try something and it bombs, don’t worry - you don’t have to keep doing it!
The pressure’s off. Have a great Christmas.