There are a few things we have done to put Christ back at the center of our Christmas, but one of my favorites is the service sleigh bells. Up until that year we had been using “buddy the elf” to visit and watch over the kids. As I was realigning our holiday I decided to replace buddy with the sleigh bells, and decided there was no one better to explain the new idea than buddy himself.I crafted a letter from buddy in which he introduced our new holiday tradition. He explained that each day during December one of them would find service sleigh bells in their stocking, and a name in the advent calendar of someone in our family to serve. After they did their service they would get to shake the bells (which can be heard to heaven!) and God would know they had been “extra-specially nice.”I couldn’t have foreseen the big impact such little acts of service would make. My children have felt the joy that comes from serving and giving to each other, just as Christ did. (If you are interested in incorporating this into your own family traditions I have included the letter as a printable with a list of service ideas below.)
That first year it took more time than I want to admit to get my 5 and 3-year-old to understand that Christmas day is not a celebration of Santa or his birthday, but they get it now. Even while Santa still magically comes, fills their stockings and drops off a gift, Jesus Christ has been our reason to celebrate. And consequently, I think that when my children are old enough to learn about Santa, the joy of Christmas won’t die.
As we have dedicated our holiday season to the Savior a profound change has happened in our home. We have felt the true spirit of Christmas.