Christmas Festivities (Abigail’s First Christmas)

Christmas tree and presents

The Johnsons had an exciting holiday weekend as we visited with out-of-town friends, enjoyed a time of fellowship/worship with our church body, opened presents as a family, and celebrated Christmas with dear friends from NAOBC.

Raymond and I discussed quite a bit this year about what we want Christmas to look like for the Johnson family – what kind of traditions we want to start setting (Raymond has been thinking a lot about how to establish a godly family legacy) as well as how we want the day to unfold so that the focus of our time together is celebrating the birth of our Savior rather than celebrating the materialism of presents.

Even though Abigail is only about 4 months old and she won’t remember anything about this Christmas (or the next few Christmases), we want to begin this year teaching her (and, later, our other children) about contentment in the provision of our Lord, salvation by faith in Christ, and being a giver rather than a receiver.

In the future, we intend on taking very active steps to encourage a giving attitude and a grateful demeanor during Christmas time.  For instance, we will limit the number of gifts our children receive from us and other family.  I like the idea of giving three gifts to each child that satisfy each of the following areas: educational/books, toys, and clothing.  We will also participate in something like Angel Tree, where we and our children will either pick out gifts for or give our gently-used possessions to a family in need.  Raymond and I do not want to foster an atmosphere of possessiveness that discourages our children from being able to joyfully give to somebody who is less fortunate than ourselves.  We do not want to have a family of hoarders where we have so much stuff that we don’t use it all or even know what we have.

So here is what our Christmas looked like this year:

We began our day with a big breakfast at a reasonable time (8 am) rather than waking up before the sun in order to ravenously unwrap our presents.  While Abigail took her first nap of the day Raymond and I visited with a college student who joined us for breakfast and we spent time reading our Bibles and talking about Christmas and some of the things that I’m writing about in this post.  We also used this time to call our family in MS and AL to wish them a Merry Christmas.  When Abigail woke up around 11 am we read Luke’s account of the birth of Christ and had a time of prayer with her and we talked to her about Christmas and the family who loves her so much that they sent presents to her.  We spent the next hour opening Abigail’s presents and then our own (and taking pictures of course!).

After cleaning up our mess (and there was a big one!), we headed over to the Hawkins’ home to eat lunch and spend the rest of the day with their family and the De La Garzas.  Whether we’re traveling to family or spending Christmas in our city of residence, we always want it to be a time of fellowship and celebration rather than isolation.  The reason we are able to celebrate with people who are not part of our immediate family is because of the covenant fellowship that creates familial relationships through the precious blood of Christ.

Here are some pictures from our Christmas activities:

Lunch with the Kilpatricks

Lunch with the Kilpatricks on 12/23/10

Ben joined us for breakfast

Ben joined us for breakfast - he had to work, so he was unable to be with his family.

'Opening' her first present

'Opening' her first present

Mommy and Abigail ready to open presents!

Thanks Kilpatricks for the perfect Christmas onesie

She's excited!...can't you tell?

What is a Click Beetle?

A Kindle!

A Flip Video Camera!

The Aftermath

Exhausted :)

Yummy food...and Nate

great friends = great Christmas

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5 thoughts on “Christmas Festivities (Abigail’s First Christmas)

  1. I do agree that Christmas definitely needs to be more focused on Christ in many families, but do all kids who like “waking up before the sun in order to ravenously unwrap our presents” turn out bad? I think there needs to be a balance, and kids are allowed to be kids for a while. And as they grow you teach them to be mature and not covet material things. Plus I think our family has given all of us much more than this over the past few years. So are we all setting a bad example already, and should we return these gifts? And if it is the giving season why can’t family give to your kids? Someone at the end of the day has to receive gifts, and I don’t think there is a better opportunity for that than children in our family in their first christmases.

    • You’re right Robert…not all kids turn out bad because of these things. The Lord is gracious and merciful in that he shapes our hearts through, and often in spite of, how we grew up or what our parents did/did not allow us to do or be. So there is definitely a balance. We love Abigail and we will love all of our children (should the Lord give us more) just as much, so we want to give her everything we can plus everything we can’t. We can’t just base our parenting style on how we think our kids might turn out one day though. That is definitely part of it; our desire is that it would be easy for our children to be obedient to the Lord. However, it is mostly our responsibility to be faithful parents and foster character traits that are godly by shepherding our children’s hearts through intentional acts like how we celebrate Christmas (having enough control over their desires to eat breakfast and read the Christmas story before diving into presents). We also intend on teaching all of our children that everything belongs to Daddy (Raymond) not because other people don’t own things but so that they can learn that everything graciously comes to them from a father (they get to play with a certain toy because their father has allowed them to play with it). We hope that this will point them to the salvation that is provided for them graciously by the Father through Jesus Christ and will help foster a joyful generosity that is characteristic among Christians.

      Having lots of gifts and waking up at 4am (or whatever time is early to your kids) to open them DOES NOT equal being a godless, Christless person. You can be a Christian and be excited about receiving gifts. However, as can be observed in our culture, this type of behavior only encourages materialism rather than a giving attitude and emphasizes self rather than Christ.

      Its not that we don’t want family to buy gifts for our children, and we know that ultimately we can’t stop family from buying gifts (and we don’t want to stop family from buying gifts), but we would hope that our family would know that we plan to be intentional about how and when our children receive the gifts that they buy for them in order to take the focus off our kids and put the focus on Christ.

      In the same way that we will encourage our boys to be men by celebrating a homerun or a touchdown or a camping night with Dad and we will encourage our girls to be women by celebrating a pan of brownies made with mom, we want to encourage our children to celebrate the Incarnation by taking the focus off immediately receiving presents.

      We will definitely do this imperfectly so we might receive things or not receive things in a way that we wish we could change later. But as far as our knowledge is guiding us right now, we are trying to be intentional to establish a way of life that walks in wisdom and points toward Christ and so this is how we’ve decided to be faithful parents to Abigail (right now). We are very aware that we will make mistakes and change our mind, but that is part of the sanctification process for parents.

      We love you guys!

  2. Raymond,

    Abigail looks like she is eyeing your Kindle….you may find her reading one late night in her crib. I used to find her mommy with a flashlight under her covers in the wee hours of the morning reading.

  3. Gigi, Raymond and Meghan,
    Must be a family trait…I still find HB with a flashlight reading and she is 15. E-Lee and Kell Bell do the same thing. They all got flashlights in their stockings and they all got a few books so I guess I am some how encouraging it!!!! ;o)

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