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Christmas break is here and for most of us we have everything planned out. We spend hours preparing for dinners and parties with friends and extended family that we love. We want everyone to get along and we want our meals to be cooked to perfection. We want to see our kids’ faces light up with joy because we got them the perfect gift this year. There is nothing wrong with wanting things to go well. However, we play this video in our minds of how we want everything to go and when it doesn’t look like we imagined it can leave us frustrated.  

Instead of setting expectations of how you want things to go during Christmas break think about what you want your family to experience. Here are three experiences I want my family to have during Christmas break and why they matter.  

1. I want my family to experience Jesus.  

It is Jesus’s birthday. It should be about him, right? Yet too many families will go through the holidays never experiencing Jesus. We eat great meals and give and receive fun gifts but if we fail to show and share Jesus, we will have failed our family. Finding little moments to keep Christmas focused on Jesus is what we do in our family. Here are a few examples… 

  • Advent Calendar: We have a magnetic advent calendar and throughout the month they will place Mary, Joseph, wisemen and animals on the cartoon manger scene. Every day is a reminder that Jesus is coming. We get to talk about why he came, and how his is at work in our lives today.  
  • Gospel Centered Advent Resources: Check out free resources by clicking here.
  • The Jesus Gift: Each year we let our kids pick out gifts for each other. Because Jesus gave to us, we give to others. The Jesus gift is fun for the kids, but it’s a small reminder of why we are celebrating Christmas.  
  • Christmas Cards: We get a bunch of Christmas cards each year from friends and family and put them in our dining room. At most meals in December, we choose a card and pray for that family.  Be sure to text the family you prayed for and let them know that Jesus loves them.
  • Christmas Eve Service: This may seem small but we love worshiping at Christmas eve together.

You do not have to throw away the tree or stop traditions you love, simply add moments in your planning to experience Jesus together this break.  

2. I want my family to experience each other.

If we let our schedules take over, we can easily look back after the holidays and feel like we never really got to spend time as a family together. You may be traveling together, eating together and being in the same room together yet never experience quality family time. I want my family to experience each other in fun and meaningful ways. Make it a point during Christmas break to do something just as a family. Leverage established traditions and plans that are already in place to create meaningful memories together. Or create new traditions that focus on quality family time.  The bottom line is that we want our kids to remember Christmas break more for the time together as a family than the hustle and bustle of the season.  

3. I want my family to experience rest.  

Kids are out of school, mom and dad may get some time off work and shops and restaurants are closed. I want my family to experience real rest during Christmas break. The kind of rest that is intentional and planned. We have several “Stay home days” where the whole family lays on the couch watching movies and we never get out of our pajamas. Our kids ask us for these days when we run hard for a while. When they go back to school, I want them to be rested and ready for a great spring. Parents, this means we have to do our best to leave work at work and just be present with our kids and family because we need rest too.  

Bobby Cooley
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