Several years ago my husband and I began to change the way we did Christmas. Like any parent, when the holidays come along you want it to be a speacial time for your kids - you want to spoil them. I know this was espceially true for my husband and I, because we rarely bought anything that wasn't a need. Well one Christamas we sat down to open gifts and watched our sons race through gift after gift without even noticing what they were opening. When the underbelly of the tree was empty, we sat back filled with horror and disapointment. It was then and there we decided to change Christmas. We wanted to instill the true value of Christmas in our children.
Each year we have looked for a new way to focus the boy's attentions on the Lord and others. My favorite traditions which have been implemented are born from the phrase, "Jesus, others, us." We start our morning with the conclusion of our Advent book and then before the paper begins to fly we gather around the computer and purchase items for people in need through Gospel for Asia. This year we bought a pair of chickens, lambs, Bibles and Gospel tracks. We also took the time to go shopping for several families in our area who could not afford gifts for their children. I have enjoyed watching their attitudes begin to change.
As much as we've scaled back on gifts and tried to change our focus; I'm still a mom and I still love to see their suprised faces on Christmas morning. So this year I began to pray about a gift for the boys that they would enjoy but continue to instill in them the eternal attitude I so desperately want written on their hearts. God is so good to answer! He told me to make treasure chests for them. Let me tell you why...
First of all, I am not a pack rat. My family has learned that if an item is important to them, they hide it from me. Any item left laying around will eventually find it's way to the trash can. So, the boys have gotten in the habit of stuffing their "treasures" under the bed in various boxes. What would be better but a nice wooden box to put it all in?!
Secondly, we have been studying scripture all month about generosity and storing up our treasures in heaven. So my hubbs and I found wooden boxes, drew their names on the front, and wrote Matthew 6:19-21 on the top. On Christmas morning we gave them the boxes, explained the meaning of them and our hopes that one day the boxes would be empty because of their understanding of what treasure truly is. We then prayed a blessings over them. I cannot explain the joy that filled my heart as they shook their heads in agreement and began to excitedly filled them. The rest of the morning was peaceful, and full of gratitude.
I know that as a parent I have a lot left to learn. I will fail many times over and then try again. But this year I learned how to pray for my children in a specific way and then translate it into an action that I believe will have lasting impact on their lives. This will be my new tradition - to give to them the gift the Lord wants for them. I encourage you to do the same. There is no greater gift than the one that points them to Jesus. Because...
Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,
where neither dust nor moth destroy and
theives do not break in and steal.
For where your heart is there will
your treasure be also.