If you follow me on Instagram and read my posts, you may have seen the one where I talked about how Christmas is my favorite holiday. In that post I reminisced on how my mom is the reason why I love and appreciate the Christmas season so much. The amount of work and effort that my mom put into making sure our Christmas experience was special was ridiculous. Our family’s Christmas tradition was something I will never forget.
Aside from her amazing cooking, my mom spent DAYS decorating our house on the inside and especially the outside! There was a tree in every room, decorations covering the exterior of the house that would literally stop traffic, and a Christmas village on the enclosed patio that made the newspaper. I’m talking a full fledged village fully equipped with dozens of little houses, a police station, a school, a library, an operating train, and anything else you would need to have a functioning town in real life.
We were never taught to believe in Santa Claus (my dad was a pastor), but my mom didn’t put all of our presents under the tree before Christmas day. There would only be a few presents out when we would go to bed on Christmas Eve night, but that next morning, there were always TONS of gifts waiting for us. She did it every year, but it never got old. It. Was. Amazing.
As much as I thought I would replicate my childhood and do these same things for my son, I’ve come to the realization that…I’m not. Decorations and Christmas lights will definitely be a thing. But will I be that mom who’s spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars on gifts? No. Why? Because Christmas ain’t about him. It ain’t about me, my husband, my family members, and it ain’t about you neither. It’s about Jesus. [insert shoulder shrug]
When I joined my church, Greater Mt. Zion I was introduced to something that we called the Birthday Party for Jesus (now known as the Born Day Bash). This is an annual celebratory Christmas service where we celebrate the birth of Christ. And before anybody starts with the extra, I am aware that Christmas is not the ACTUAL day that Jesus was born. The point is, the man was born and if we’re going to celebrate anybody’s birthday, we definitely need to celebrate his. Anywho, the purpose of Birthday Party for Jesus is to place emphasis on the true meaning of Christmas and to encourage believers to reconsider how they celebrate Christmas.
No, it’s not about trying to guilt Christians out of buying gifts for their loved ones. It’s about getting believers to make Jesus the center of their focus during the Christmas season. Think about it. People go shopping, trying to find gifts for folks when it’s not even their birthday. They start preparing food days in advance to ensure everyone has a special meal to eat. They spend hours upon hours doing this stuff and pile stress on top of stress. Then, when it’s all said and done, they look up and realize absolutely no time or energy was spent with or on the actual Birthday Boy. My pastor always says, “How would you feel if it was your birthday and everybody got a gift BUT you?” THAT was a reality check for me. That’s when I knew it was time to do something different.
I will never forget the day my husband and I decided to shift our focus and make Christmas about Jesus and Jesus only. It took no convincing him at all. We were both on the same page with this one, and I was so relieved. It was final. We decided to do it big for each other on our birthdays then do it big for Jesus on his birthday.
What kind of gift do you give Jesus for his birthday though? I mean, he already owns everything. Our pastor encouraged us to host our own birthday parties for Jesus in our homes and gave us practical ways to give gifts to Christ in the process.
One year, the focus was surrendering something and giving it to Jesus. So I bought an over-sized Christmas stocking and decorated it for our party. We all wrote on a piece of paper something that we had been holding onto that we wanted to give to Jesus. For example, things like addiction, fears, financial obedience, our time, or anything that we wanted Him to have or take complete and total control of in our lives. We then put the pieces of paper into the stocking and prayed over them, asking God to help us fully surrender and allowing Jesus to step in and take control. It was a powerful moment.
Over the past few years, our pastor has encouraged us to give Jesus a monetary gift, and we have raised an offering for Jesus’s birthday. Don’t worry. I know what you’re thinking. “This ain’t nothing but a way for your pastor to get money out of y’all!” LOL! First of all, at my church we understand that membership means something, and we give because it is our duty to financially support the work of our ministry. My pastor can’t GET money out of me unless I WANT to give it. Secondly, the additional offering that is raised for Birthday Party for Jesus does not go to our church. It also does not go to our pastor. It is donated to local organizations that are doing the type of work that Jesus would be doing if he were still walking the streets today.
We provide monetary support to those who are being the hands and feet of Jesus. This year, the money is being donated to Life Anew and Measure, two organizations that are doing amazing work in the community. If you ask me, I think that’s a gift Jesus will appreciate. So every year for Christmas, my husband and I give above our regular giving so that we can be a blessing to others.
I must say that ever since we stopped buying gifts for each other, Christmas has been that much more relaxing and enjoyable. Trying to find gifts for each other, especially since our birthdays are in October and November, was stressful at times. Malls are packed and people are rude. Those who know me know that I don’t do rude people in crowded stores. Removing shopping from my Christmas agenda was the best thing I could’ve ever done for my sanity.
When I told my family that we wouldn’t be buying Christmas gifts anymore, one of the questions they asked was “What about when y’all have kids?” The answer is still the same. We will teach our children that Christmas is all about Jesus just as their birthdays are all about them. So no, my son Third won’t have the same experience that I got as a child, and that’s okay!
He will still receive gifts from his aunts, uncles, and grandparents if they choose to buy gifts for him. As a matter of fact, my in-laws loaded our car with Third’s Christmas gifts when we went home for Thanksgiving. We’re not going around forbidding people to buy Christmas gifts for our kid. We just choose to spend our time and resources differently, and that’s okay. As for me and my house, we’re staying out of the stores!
However, my little family has started our own tradition. We will give our family the gift of memories as we travel. This year will be our first year hitting the road for Christmas, and I am so excited! With my husband working in ministry full time and me having a full time job while also serving in ministry and being a Mommi, a nice getaway is exactly what we need. I’d rather take a trip than have Christmas gifts any day. Plus, our son already LOVES staying in hotels (like his Mommi) so it’s the perfect tradition for our little family! So what about the gifts that our son got from his grandparents? They’re coming with us on the trip, and he will open them on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day, we will spend meaningful moments with God and each other.
Listen, it’s okay to keep the same traditions you had as a child. It’s also okay for your Christmas with your family to look different than it did when you were growing up. Start your own traditions if you need to. That may mean family members in their feelings because you decide to break away from tradition. That is also okay. At the end of the day, do whatever makes sense for your family. Just be sure to make memories, have fun, and keep Jesus at the center of it all!
Hugs and Kisses,