Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Jesus' Birth Date: A Lesson in Faith

This is a tricky subject to tackle because there's a good chance I might offend someone or shatter some childhood memory. That's not my intent and I'm sorry if I do, but here it goes…

Jesus was not born on December 25th. In fact, he probably wasn't even born in the Winter at all.

Take a deep breath, I'm not trashing Christmas or Jesus. Hang with me.

According to all the historical evidence and all this big heady Bible scholar stuff that I paid way too much money to study in college, Jesus was likely born in the late Spring or early Summer.

Then why do we celebrate Christmas on December 25th?

Many years ago a bunch of smart church men (maybe some women were involved but if so, history forgot them a lot time ago) sat around and decided that they would set aside December 25th as the day to celebrate the Christ Mass, eventually Christmas. This was the feast day to celebrate the Christ child.

Why this date was chosen is debated. Some believe it was chosen based on some early church figure's guesses on when Jesus would have been conceived and then plus nine months. Others say it was chosen so it would coincide with Pagan festivals at the time allowing Christians to celebrate without drawing much attention to themselves.

But if December 25th isn't Jesus' Birthday, when is it?

We don't know.

Christmas provides a perfect opportunity to begin teaching your children the three most important words for anyone who professes a life of faith: I don't know. 

I strongly encourage any parent who wants to raise their children in the Christian faith to learn to make the phrase "I don't know" a part of your daily vocabulary. I don't know allows for children to ask questions and seek out answers. It helps them to think critically of how and why they believe something and prepares them for the day when they ask a hard question and there is no answer.

So, instead of insisting that Christmas be Jesus' exact birth date, practice admitting that we don't know all the answers.

I don't know exactly when Jesus was born, no one does, but we as a people of faith have chosen to celebrate on this day so that Christians around the world can all celebrate the birth of their Savior together.

Have you ever had a question of faith answered with "I don't know'? I'd love to hear about that experience.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Book Review: The True Saint Nicholas: Why He Matters to Christmas

Today is the feast day for Saint Nicholas patron saint of children, fishermen, and merchants (among others). On this special feast day I would like to present to you one of my favorite books for this Christmastime.

The True Saint Nicholas: Why He Matters to Christmas by William J. Bennett is an excellent collection of information, legend and fact, of Nicholas and how he became a central figure in many Christmas traditions. Bennett provides the most commonly accepted story of the miracles of St. Nicholas, including the legend of the first stockings, as well as a brief history of how this saint was transformed into the chubby man in red. Bennett's book provides a great way to explore the historical Saint Nicholas as well as to help children come to an understanding of the Santa Claus tradition.

Personally, I think this can also be a great teaching tool to help children see the connections between the secular Santa traditions and Christian values. I don't know that the author had any intention of making such a connection, but I found great value there. I'd recommend this as a book to read with older children as they begin to think critically about the Santa tradition.

One of our Christmas traditions that was inspired by the story of Saint Nicholas's generosity is for Santa to give those chocolate coins in each of our stockings. It reminds us of Nicholas's charity and that we should follow in his example and help those in need, without seeking acknowledgement.

~~I purchased this book on my own and have not been compensated for this review.~~

Does your family include Saint Nicholas in your holiday celebrations?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Adventures in Advent: The First Decoration

I love the Christmas season and everything that comes with it! Christmas is easily my favorite holiday and the advent season has captured my heart since I was little. This Advent, I'd like to share some of our family traditions with you and why we've chosen to do things our way. Maybe it'll help inspire some Christmas spirit in your home.

The first and most important tradition for me is that the nativity scene is the first decoration to go up for the season (and the last to come down). It's so easy in today's world for our focus during this Advent time to be swayed to the hustle and bustle of buying gifts and baking cookies that I feel it's incredibly important to start the season off right.

The set pictured above was recently handed down to me from my grandmother. This set is older than I am and has intense sentimental value.  I remember helping my grandmother set it up each year and the magical connection that held. I look forward to the day when Alex is old enough (and his hands steady enough) that he can help open each box, name each figure, and decide where each person and animal should go.

It's such a simple thing, but setting up a nativity scene, even if it's just a picture or child's drawing of one can really help to keep your focus on the right things during this holiday season. Every year, millions of people worldwide come together to celebrate the birth of a tiny baby who would fulfill years of prophecy and reconcile a broken creation to its Creator. It's such an amazing story, one that I hope never loses it's power over me or my children.

Have a blessed day and feel free to comment below with one of your Christmas traditions!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Crazy November!

November was a super crazy month for us! Thanks to some very generous family members we bought a house and moved early in the month. Then Alex turned one! (Can you believe it?!?!) We had a little birthday party at the house for him and it was great, though we didn't have any furniture at the time (and still don't really, but it's supposed to be delivered on Saturday!).

Alex then reacted to his chicken pox vaccine and got the pox down his leg and all over his bottom. Poor little guy's booty then got staph and he got meatitis. During this time he also cut another tooth, moved to a floor bed, weaned off formula to whole milk (which made him very gassy for a week or two), and is now only getting a bottle at bedtime. A lot has happened in his little life!

I feel like we're finally starting to get a good groove in the new house and getting Alex on a great routine for both mornings and bedtime. I hate that I went silent on my lovely readers, yet again, but sometimes you just have to put first things first. I hope your advent season is off to a great start! I'll be seeing you again soon I hope.