Keeping Christ in Christmas – Mistletoe

Take the tangible images and traditions of Christmas and use them to teach the intangible, concepts concerning Christmas. For the next 25 days, this blog will be relating the real meaning of Christmas with traditional seasonal objects so that you and your children can keep Christ in Christmas.

Mistletoe was used by Druid priests in their winter celebrations 200 years before the birth of Christ . They revered the plant because it remained green during the cold months of winter. The ancient Celtics believed mistletoe to have magical healing powers and used it as an antidote for poison, infertility, and to ward off evil spirits. The plant was also seen as a symbol of peace, and it is said that among Romans, enemies who met under mistletoe would lay down their weapons and embrace. Scandinavians associated the plant with Frigga, their goddess of love, and it may be from this that we derive the custom of kissing under the mistletoe. Those who kissed under the mistletoe had the promise of happiness and good luck in the following year.

So how do we transform this to make it a reminder of the birth of Jesus Christ?

First of all, since mistletoe was a symbol of peace in ancient days, it should remind us of the Prince of Peace who was born at Christmas.

Secondly, mistletoe today is the place for a kiss. Among the Arabs, the women and children kiss the beards of their husbands or fathers. The husband or father returns their salute by a kiss on the forehead. In Egypt, an inferior kisses the hand of a superior, generally on the back, but sometimes, as a special favor, on the palm also. To testify abject submission, and in asking favors, the feet are often kissed instead of the hand. In scripture, we have the kiss of Judas as he betrayed Jesus in the garden. We also have the penitent woman who kissed the feet of Jesus. And there was the greeting given in the early church of a ‘holy kiss’.

This Christmas when you see the mistletoe, think about two verses of scripture:

Psalm 2:12 Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him. That is, embrace the Son; depend upon Him in all your ways as your Sovereign. To make peace with the Father, kiss the Son.

Song 1:2 Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth–for your love is better than wine. The Divine kiss is a metaphor of intimacy with Jesus and the ‘kisses of his mouth’ refers to the ‘words of Jesus’ which is the Word of God. Let the mistletoe remind you that God is pursuing an intimate relationship with you that is developed as we embrace the Word of God! This is why Jesus was born!

Christmas is Jesus’ Birthday!

The excitement of Christmas has already begun at our house. Our California children have flown in for the month, the tree is decorated, the stockings are hung (wow – 10 of them this year), most of the Christmas lists are made out, and soon the baking, shopping, and parties will be in full swing.  It is so easy in all this activity to let the real meaning of Christmas go unmentioned.  We adults know that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday but how are our children going to know unless we tell them.  They may see this only as a time when all the relatives get together or there’s lots of goodies to eat or everyone gives them gifts.

Bring Christ into every activity of Christmas.  Make every effort to teach the real meaning of Christmas through everything you do:

  • While decorating the tree share that the evergreen tree reminds us of the everlasting love Jesus has for us.  The tree is like a big birthday cake for Jesus and the lights are the candles.  The lights remind us that Jesus is the Light of the world and that “God lights our darkness” (2 Samuel 22:29)
  • While wrapping gifts share “It is better to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35) Point out that because it is Jesus’ birthday we give gifts.  Jesus said when we give to one another it is the same as giving to him. (And the King will tell them, ‘I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ Matthew 25:40) Share “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).   Make sure your children are involved in making or purchasing gifts to give so they are not just on the receiving end of the gifts.  Also point out that giving is not only things, but he can give love, friendship, help, and joy.
  • Make the manger scene central in your decorations. Be sure your children hear the Christmas story from the Bible often. It’s fine to tell them the pretend stories of Santa and elves, Rudolph and Frosty, but be sure to tell the true story of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, angels, Shepherds, etc.  Also help them understand the true story of Santa.  He loved Jesus so much that he wanted to give to others.  A good book about Santa is “Santa, Are You for Real? “ by Harold Myra.

Begin some family traditions that your children will cherish and carry on after they have families of their own.  Here are some of our family’s:

  • Make a December calendar with all the special events listed or pictured.  Mark off each day till Christmas.
  • Put the Christmas cards you receive in a basket and choose one each day to pray for the family who sent it.
  • Have a birthday party for Jesus complete with birthday cupcakes, candles, and singing Happy Birthday.  Also, we draw pictures of what we want to thank Jesus for and wrap it up each year.  Every year at the birthday party we open up the present for Jesus we wrapped up the year before and see what we put in.
  • Plan a night for all the family to sleep under the tree.  Go to sleep listening to Christmas carols after Dad has read the Christmas Story.
  • Choose a family who has had a hard year to show some special kindness to in some way.
  • Make Christmas cookies together and give to the neighbors.
  • Make Christmas ornaments to add to your tree or to give away.  (Recipe for clay dough: 1 cup all purpose flour, 1/2 cup salt, 1/3 cup of water.  Mix salt and flour, add water a little at a time.  Mix with hands. After cutting out with Christmas cookie cutters, bake in 225 degree oven for 15 minutes on each side.)
  • Make decorating the tree a family affair.  Sing as you decorate.
  • Look at pictures from previous Christmases
  • Act out the Christmas story.  Involve the whole family including pets, dolls, stuffed animals
  • Memorize a different scripture each week related to Christmas:
    For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.  Luke 2:11
    God loved us and sent His Son.  1 John 4:10
    It’s better to give than to receive.  Acts 20:35
    The shepherds praised God.  Luke 2:20

Here’s a simple song to sing: Christmas is Jesus’ Birthday

For the next 25 days, this blog will be relating the real meaning of Christmas with traditional seasonal objects so that you and your children can remember that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday.


Keeping Thanks in Thanksgiving – A ‘Thank You God for’ List

About the 1st of November, I used to always put a large piece of paper on the refrigerator  with the words, “Thank you God for” at the top.  Family members were encouraged to regularly write down something they are thankful for.  This has been a tradition for many years in our home. We enjoy writing our own and reading what the rest of the family has written.

Now that we are separated from of our children most of the time, we start a thanksgiving Groupme chat about the first of November and we all post on it throughout the month. (You can download the Groupme app for group texting – this has really helped to keep our family connected!) Writing down your blessings can really change your outlook.  As the old hymn by Johnson Oatman says, “Count your many blessings; name them one by one; and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”