Do you struggle each year with how to keep the focus of Christmas on Christ? Do the presents seem to take away or distract from the peace, love, and joy that Christmas is supposed to bring? Better question yet, does all of the extra stress from doing more, shopping, cooking, and holiday gatherings end up turning December into a marathon of survival instead of a month to savor?
This month’s tip for parents is to remove the pressure of Christmas Day by celebrating St. Nicolas Day instead (December 6). I know that this sounds like a radical idea, but just hear me out.
The traditional feast day of St. Nicolas is December 6. What if, on December 6, you exchanged gifts as a family? By doing it early, you have eliminated your stress and the present-focus of your child to much earlier in the month. Then, when Christmas arrives, much of what causes the anticipation has passed, and the focus can be solely on the gift that is Jesus coming into the world. You may still decide to give a stocking of small items on that day, or do a small item for the 12 days of Christmas, but for December 25, all of the focus and energy is on Christ and not the gifts.
While this may all sound wonderful, it is harder to accomplish. It means shopping and wrapping a little earlier. It might mean that some friends or relatives still provide a gift on the 25th. That’s okay. What you decide to do as a family will shift the focus just enough to give yourselves some breathing room, and everyone a greater opportunity to experience God incarnate (God with us) in their lives today.
A radical idea? Yes. Worth the extra effort? Without a doubt. Consider what new traditions you could start in place of the traditional celebrations.
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