This past Saturday, we celebrated Christmas with our extended families on each side. It was a great time. We ate too much, laughed a lot and genuinely enjoyed each other. It was busy and short, but very nice.

Our girls got spoiled, of course. That is what grandparents do. The excitement as they opened their gifts is something that most every parent can fully appreciate and one of the joys we have at Christmas.

I received some thoughtful gifts. One a beautiful painting of Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus at Augusta. The thing that was most precious was my sister-in-law bought gifts for two children as part of Angel Tree in my name. That is very cool.

A few years ago, my wife and I took stock of what Christmas was in our home. We realized the amount of money being spent and shear volume of gifts our children (then toddlers) received was just to much. We made some decisions. First, we would only get our girls 3 gifts plus stockings from us and would coordinate with our families what else the girls were getting. Second, every year we would do something significant as a family for someone else. Parents, it is our responsibility to example with actions as well as our words what this season should be and how it should play out for our children.

The project we chose this year was to sponsor a financially struggling family through another church. My greatest joy and memory so far this Christmas is going shopping with my girls for someone we do not know. They were so excited as they picked out toys and clothes and other items to give away. They put themselves fully into the project and didn’t ask for anything for themselves while we shopped. There is no material possession I could get that would be more meaningful than that afternoon.

I don’t say this with any pride filled boasting as we still fall short of what we could be doing. In fact, next year, there will be a couple more changes to Christmas in our home that will make even more memories and less focus on presents.

This week we will relax and enjoy the time we have together. No stress or worries over gifts. No hurry to get here or there. No pressure to keep up with what the media is selling. We will play games, laugh, rest, eat, exchange our gifts, and make memories. Most of all, we will strive to honor Christ and work to instill that honor in our children.

What traditions does your family have or what new things are you trying to keep your focus right this week?

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