How My Young Family Is Making Room for Christ This Christmas

Photo by Eduardo Montivero on UnSplash

As we approach December 25, we undoubtedly become more stressed out about getting everything done for the big day. If you are like my family, you have a huge to-do list that seems insurmountable. If you are like my family, you might also risk losing sight of what Christmas day is all about as we prepare for every other detail besides the fact that God is born among us. 

Over two thousand years ago on that first Christmas, Mary and Joseph could not find a room that was available for them. The innkeepers refused to accept the Holy Family, so God had no place to rest his head that night. This fact of the Christmas story rings true every year that we do not decide to make room for him before he comes. With this in mind, my wife and I have decided to try and be proactive this year in the final days of Advent. 

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Our 3-year-old son Ben loves Santa, and he should. However, we have also included consistent references to the fact that Santa celebrates Jesus’ birthday on Christmas and that is why he comes and brings presents. My wife, Joanna, thought of explaining it this way to show the kids that Christmas morning is more than a day full of toys. There is a reason why we celebrate –  because God was born as a baby. 

We have already found a few more practices to show Ben that our faith is important and fun. He is looking forward to Jesus’ birthday, not only Christmas in general. It has also brought about more conversations between Joanna and me about what it means to celebrate Christmas, and if we are being called to make less of a deal about the material gifts that we buy for another. Reflecting on how we can make room for Jesus with our kids has invited us to make more room for him in our marriage by praying together more and thinking about how to make our family more God-centered.

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Celebrate Jesus’ birthday… with cake!

Each year we bake a cake for Jesus. If you have small children, you can plan to bake Jesus a birthday cake on Christmas Eve and include them in the baking process. Now, this might seem like another item on the to-do list or like it will make a huge mess right before you have to get the house ready. These real hurdles present the most difficult challenge of Advent: to actually make room for him even though our lives seem full.

Reflect on the readings for the Christmas Liturgy

Obviously, attending Mass on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day is essential to celebrating the birth of Jesus. Just like we can prepare for Christmas Day, we can also prepare for attending Christmas Mass by making the decision to reflect on the readings before we get in the car on that chaotic day. Viewing the readings before every Sunday Mass can be helpful but is even more powerful on the largest celebrations of the year. We all know the story of Bethlehem, but what details are we invited to dive more deeply into? Read the beginning of Matthew and Luke to find out.

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Contemplate the manger

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we have made a strong effort to spend time sitting in prayer in front of the manger in our home. Many Catholics spend the entire year reflecting on the crucifix and how it personifies God’s sacrifice and love. What if we decided to focus more on the baby in the manger in the last days of Advent? We can picture that quiet night. The shepherd who was powerfully interrupted and called to witness the newborn king. The magi who carved out weeks of travel to search after this child who would change the world. Think about how Joseph and Mary would have looked at each other and looked at Jesus in the moments after his birth. 

Making room for him is all about opening up space for us to deeply encounter this God-child in a way that will set us on a new path and give life a new horizon. At Christmas, nothing less will do for our God. He was born so that we might know him. 

So, move things around on your schedule so you can welcome him in when he comes.