When I was growing up, our family didn't open our presents until Christmas morning. I recall how excited we were on Christmas Eve; how we obediently went to bed so we could wake up early Christmas Day to see what treasures our stockings held and to open the colorfully wrapped packages under the tree. As we grew older, I recall how we begged Dad to let us open just one present on Christmas Eve. He resisted for a long time. But, just as dripping water can eventually wear down a piece of hard stone, Dad finally gave in. At first we were allowed to open just one. But, the door was open. It wasn't long before we were allowed to open all our gifts on Christmas Eve.
When my children were growing up, I thought I would be a purist and make them wait until Christmas Day to open their gifts. I didn't last as long as my father. Most of the time they persuaded me to let them open them all on Christmas Eve. I kept saying that the next year I would hold my ground but never did.
Christmas is an exciting time for people, but, it is only celebrated in the fullest sense when we remember what Christmas is all about. It is the day we celebrate the birth of our Savior. It is a day on which God fulfilled his promise to send his Son to suffer and die in our place. Even though we had lots of gifts under the tree when I was a child, my parents never failed to remind us of what Christmas was all about. Their focus was not on Santa but the Savior. It was not on our gifts to each other but God’s gift to the world.
As we celebrate Christmas, we cannot help but be excited. Our excitement, however, dare not center solely on the gifts under the tree, family and friends. It must center on God's gift of a Savior. Remember that the gifts we buy our loved ones are symbols of God’s loving gift to us, his Son – our Savior. Let the lights that shine from our house and trees remind us of Jesus Christ who is described as the Light shining in a world darkened by sin and unbelief. Let the Christmas carols remind of the amazing events that took place when Jesus was born.
Let your children enjoy the stories of Santa, the Grinch that Stole Christmas, and Frosty the Snow Man. But, be sure that they understand that the focus of Christmas is the birth of our Savior. Have a family devotion each evening that reminds you of God’s promise of a Savior and that promise fulfilled in the birth of Jesus.
Include special worship services in your celebration, especially on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Let your family sing out, “Joy to the World! The Lord is Come!” Let your cards not just proclaim “Holiday Greetings!” Let your Christmas greetings express your joy in the birth of the Savior. Keep Christ at the center of your Christmas celebration from beginning to end. If you do, your Christmas joy will be complete.