Dear Heavenly Father,
The story of Christmas is a beautiful story. It is full of joy and celebration. It is full of perfect love and triumph. It is the most wonderful story of all. But, Lord, every year it comes and goes and, caught up in the lists and lines, I seem to miss it. And when I miss it, I miss you. Father, please let me be different this Christmas.
Embrace me in prayer each day early in the morning. Catch me before I am off and running, before I make my daily mistakes, my sins, my omissions. Tell me Your story. Tell it to me each morning, Father, so that I will see it in everything I do. And remind me to tell it to the people I love, especially my children.
As my hands knead the dough, as I bake another dozen cookies, as my little ones are covered in powdered sugar and licking the spoons, let me tell them why we bake at Christmas. Let me tell them of the sweetness of a life with Jesus. Let me tell them that Christ is the bread of life, the bread of angels. It is He that sustains us.
As I wrap the 300th gift, a task I share with tiny, enthusiastic, but awkward hands, let me tell my children of the most perfect gift. Let me tell them about the Christ child wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger and of the Three Wise Men who came bearing gifts to honor him.
And, Father, speaking of gifts, let me remember as we write our letters to Santa, to tell my children about the mystery of your gift, the miracle of Christmas. Let me use this legend of Santa to paint a picture of how you give to us even when we don’t deserve it; that you give without asking anything in return. Let me tell them that your gift was the gift of perfect love—unconditional and endless.
As we hang our fancy wreath on the front door and place our simple Advent wreath on the kitchen table, let me tell the children about circles. Let me tell them what it means to know love that has no beginning or end, what it feels like to be encircled in Your love. Let me tell them that the wreaths also symbolize the thousands of years that the world waited for a savior and the cycles of a thousand years that we wait for His return.
As we light the candles and untangle the tree lights looking for the one bad bulb, remind me that the world was once a dark and hopeless place, and that the people called out to a good and faithful God for rescue, for light. And You sent Jesus, the light of the world. Let me tell my children how Jesus brightens every shadowy corner, every scary closet, every tiny little soul.
When I pick the pine needles from the rug and water the Christmas tree, as we plant bulbs and anticipate their blooms, remind me of renewal through You. Let me tell my children about rebirth and growing in Christ, about mustard seeds and trees—tall, straight, and strong. Let me tell them of a God who is who is never changing, eternally steadfast, unaffected by seasons, by time.
As I sing hymns and carols, let me take time to teach the words to my children. Let us plunk out the notes on the piano and let me tell them why we sing at Christmas. Let me tell them about the heavens opening up and about the chorus of angels that delivered the Good News to the shepherds and sang “Glory to God in the Highest.”
Father, when my children reach out to me with sticky little fingers, let me remember what I’ve heard about candy canes. Let me show them that the candy cane is like a shepherd’s staff and that Jesus is the Good Shepherd and that we are His sheep. He tends to us, calls us by name, and will always find us when we are lost.
When I am stuck in traffic and store lines, when I feel impatience swelling up in me and the whines welling up in my little ones, let me remember why we wait at Christmas. Let me tell my children that when we wait we can reflect, daydream, breathe. Let me tell them that waiting has a special purpose this time of year. It is the time to ask forgiveness, to cleanse our hearts and minds and prepare for the coming of the Christ child.
As I fill my grocery cart to overflowing, as I buy almost anything my children ask for, let me remember the poor. Father, let me tell my children what it must be like to be cold and hungry and hopeless. Let me tell them how Jesus loved the poor and that He was born a poor baby and died a poor man. Father, show me how we can help the poor this Christmas.
As my family gathers, as we hug and laugh, as we get bossy and start to brag, as we get nosy and critical, let me remember about families at Christmas. Let me tell my children how You created families and sent Your son to be born in the city of his family, Bethlehem. Let me remember that we should love our families the way you love us—faults and all.
And one last thing, Father, as we pray for parking spaces at church and sit on each other’s skirts in the sanctuary, let me remember why we worship at Christmas—crowds and all. You call us through each symbol and reminder during this season to come and be with You, to be joyful and to experience You through Your Son in the miracle of His birth. Thank you, Father for revealing these things to the little children—my little children—and to me. Hallelujah.