The house was silent. One child had gotten up to go to the bathroom, but she went right back to bed. No rushing to the tree. No impatience to open the gifts. Just sweet rest.
That is how our morning started. Peaceful. Quiet. Calm. It’s not how our past Christmas mornings have begun, but it was how this morning began. And it was beautiful.
This is our tenth Christmas as parents, and every year we have attempted to keep the focus on Jesus’ birth. We enjoy gifts as much as our children, and we love all of the celebration that accompanies the holiday. But, it has to still be about Jesus.
Most years, our children get up and head straight for the tree, excited to see what’s there. We have to back them away and remind them that we start with the Christmas story. Even then, it sometimes seems that the focus is not with the story but with just getting the obligation over with. But, we have persisted. And this year the persistence paid off.
When the children finally got up close to 8:00 this morning, they all three came for snuggles. Angela curled up in my sister’s lap, and Steven and Olivia joined me in the recliner. They stayed contentedly until breakfast casserole was done and it was time to get it on the table. Then there was no rushing through the meal – just a nice, calm, enjoyable family breakfast followed by enthusiastic participation in the lighting of the advent wreath and the reading of the Christmas story. Then calm and patience while we got everything ready to open gifts, followed by pure enjoyment of every gift from simple to elaborate.
Later in a Skype call with my parents, Mom asked Olivia what her favorite part of the morning was. Olivia’s answer? Giving her daddy the gift she’d spent a great deal of time making for him. I have to admit, I was incredibly proud of my big girl in that moment.
It is not easy to raise children with a Christ-centered view of Christmas – or anything else, for that matter. We’ve tried for ten Christmases, and we haven’t always been properly focused ourselves. But, we have tried. And the persistence and perseverance has paid off. Our children are truly getting it.
As we try to walk this Christian life, there will be so many times when we want to give in and take a simpler path. There seems to be no end to our striving. Our patience wears thin and our perseverance seems unrewarded. Don’t give up! The rewards do come! They did for us today as we watched our children celebrate Christmas with beautiful hearts.
Merry Christmas to you all!