I hope everyone reading this had a wonderful Christmas! We did things a bit differently this year, since Christmas was on Sunday. Normally, we let the kids open one present on Christmas Eve, and then open the rest on Christmas morning, after reading the Christmas passages in the Bible. But since we had church services both Christmas Eve and Christmas morning this year, we decided to just open all the presents on the morning of the 24th, and then tried to focus on the church services and worship on Christmas Eve and Day. Of course, the kids still wanted to just play with their new toys mostly, but I think it worked much better than rushing through "present time" on the 25th and then hurrying to get ready for church by 9:30. Or making the kids wait until Sunday afternoon.
I still feel that we (as a family and as a culture) focus too much on presents, and make too big a deal about all the cool new toys the kids will get. It is hard to keep from buying too many presents for the kids. There are so many neat things for children of their age, and so much advertising! But it really does overwhelm the concept of celebrating the birth of Jesus. Everyone, when meeting a child a few days after Christmas, seems to ask first of all, "What did you get for Christmas?" or "What was your favorite present?" It's the inevitable question. Never would someone ask, "How did you celebrate Jesus' birthday?"
I did try this year to buy more educational toys than just entertaining ones. There are a lot of those out there too, and I had a list of ones I've been wanting to buy the kids, but couldn't justify spending more on "curriculum" or school-oriented things. So I shifted them to the "Christmas present" category. ;-) The kids got maze books, geography puzzles, and thinking puzzle/games (as well as a few toy cars and pairs of socks). And does a new Kinect XBox count as educational? At least physical education? That was really for the whole family. Plus, I dug out all my old Legos from about 30 years ago, including a castle set with 20 knights. At least I had fun putting it all together for them!
But back to how we celebrated the birth of Jesus - in our family, it usually revolves around music. Our church choir and small drama group put on a Christmas musical for 2 nights, and the children's choir sang with the adults for the beginning number. That was very nice, since my oldest daughter and I got to sing together. She actually stood on stage this year for the first time (all previous years she was too nervous to actually go on the stage), so I was very proud of her. According to everyone she sat with while I sang in the rest of the musical, she sang quietly along with us on all the other songs too. She has a very good memory for music. We also had 3 big rehearsals the week before, so my daughter and I spent lots of time immersed in the musical. I also played handbells, sang with a small ensemble, and played a piano solo for the Christmas Eve and Morning services. For me, that is the most worshipful way to spend Christmas - singing and playing songs to God.