The first gift under our Christmas tree is always a small, silver box with a red ribbon. Inside, we all write our gifts to Jesus on pieces of paper and close them up until the New Year.
For me, this always starts the holiday season off on the right note, with the focus on the gift of the Savior and on the gifts we can give back to him. Sure, we will do lots of commercial and secular activities during Christmas and there will soon be lots of other presents under the tree, but that little box reminds me that underneath everything else is a promise.
Sometimes that promise is simple: Try to be kinder to others. Last year my oldest daughter decided her gift to Jesus would be reading the Bible every night. My youngest drew a picture of a horse.
So, it means something different to each of us, but the thought is the same: Jesus is the gift, and we can give him gifts by loving others and by making ourselves more like him.
This year, I am working on becoming more like him by exercising some self-control in what I put in my body in the form of sweets, how often I check my email (curse you smartphone!) and how much television I watch at the end of the day.
I have several friends who are also scaling back on their smartphone use this Christmas. For the month of December, they are using their phone like a regular phone and trying to turn their attention to their families during the holidays.
I love everything about Christmas. The presents, the cookies, the ridiculous sweaters; it’s all wonderful. And I love enjoying all those trappings while working all month to give my gift to Jesus.
Everyone puts Christ in Christmas in their own way. My 4-year-old does it by carrying the baby Jesus from our Nativity set with her wherever she goes throughout the entire month. It gets a little awkward when she pulls baby Jesus out and gives him his own seat at restaurants, but that's OK because it is her way of celebrating that Jesus was the first and most important gift.
And whether we tie up our gifts to him in a box beneath the tree or just keep them in our heart, our gifts of love to each other and to him are the best ones we can give.
How do you help your family focus on Christ during Christmas?
Erin Stewart is a regular blogger. From stretch marks to the latest news for moms, she discusses it all while her 7-year-old and 3-year-old daughters dive-bomb off the couch behind her.