I’ve written before about the plight of Christians who celebrate Christmas. Beginning with Halloween and on through the New Year, we often get raised eyebrows as we let our kids trick-or-treat in October, and then before Thanksgiving even arrives, we have a Grinch in our yard and a tree in the window.

We go all out for the holidays–the Santa thing, the nativity thing–all the advent readings and all the Christmas movies. Stockings are hung by the chimney with care and we wait to wake up on Christmas morning and they’re all filled up.

Really, we celebrate Christmas with Santa and twinkle lights and merry wonderment because we need a kind of sabbath–a holiday–from ordinary life.

In order to make the holiday season so special, we have almost taken the specialness out of it–doing what everyone else does, the same way they do it. We take on too much to add more and more joy, like too many sprinkles on a cake. Can Santa and Jesus coexist at Christmas? Of course, but when they are separate parts of your holiday joy, they can definitely conflict.

Christmas is not all Santa and elves. It’s about bringing something good together with something Incredible. It’s the history and lore of Christmas together with the faith and hope of Jesus. It’s okay to celebrate both.

It’s okay to celebrate both.

I’m not here to convince you to bring Santa into your home–or to boot him out. What I hope to do is let you know that it’s okay to celebrate Christmas with Santa and with Jesus.

Do you feel a bit likeHe is outshined by other holiday favorites?

There are things you can do to bring your holiday festivities back to their purpose–celebrating Jesus Christ.

Follow an advent reading. 

Choose any advent calendar or reading plan to follow for the season. Traditionally, you’d begin on December 1 and read daily until Christmas. If you haven’t been following a reading, there is still time! If you begin now, you can read an installment at breakfast, lunch, and dinner and still finish on Christmas Day. This is a perfect idea if your children are out of school for Christmas break.

Look for a scripture advent reading plan online or check out The Promised, published here at OUTLOOK just two years ago. You can also find an expanded version available on Amazon with new family talking points and prayers for each reading.

Turn Elf on the Shelf on his head.

Many of my mom friends have a love/hate relationship with Elf on the Shelf. It can be fun to move your elf and find fun ways to surprise and treat your kids every day leading up to Christmas. However, if you’re feeling a little like you need to include Jesus in this tradition, take some time in this last week to focus on the Reason for the season!

This is just one example of some Christian Elf on the Shelf ideas. You can also involve your elf in putting together a nativity, either a real nativity with the elf providing a piece each day or a sticker nativity.

Write letters to Jesus. 

If your kids love to write letters to Santa, let them! This Sabbath have them write a letter to Jesus. You’ll see a big difference in the things they’ll ask Santa to bring them, and the things they write to Jesus. Talk about this with them, and I invite you to write your own letter to Jesus as well. Instead of asking for things as a prayer, write Jesus as if it’s a holiday family update.

Talk about traditions.

Many of our Christmas traditions are so old or so far removed from us that we have no idea why we even do them. Talk with your family about the traditions that are favorites, why we do them, or why we may not like them at all. Begin new traditions that bring you closer to Jesus this and every holiday season.

Try this one today: create a paper chain for your tree. Using strips of paper, write “Jesus is…” and complete it with a name for Jesus, a characteristic, or who He is to you or your family. When they’re written, staple or tape the rings together in a chain with the words on the outside so they’re easily read. Store this chain in your Christmas box when the season is over and bring it out next year. You can read them then and add to them with a new color.

Start a giving tradition: growing in popularity is the Ten Envelopes. Fill envelopes with money and write a letter to a stranger. Prayerfully give these envelopes of blessings to others this season.

No matter what you decide to do or not do this holiday season, I hope you’ll open your heart to others and draw closer as a family. God bless you on this Sabbath and on this holiday.

Happy Sabbath to you, and Merry Christmas.