Recently my children saw that I was wrapping some presents and placing numbers on them. Of course, they asked why. So, I told them that they would be able to open one present a day instead of opening all of their Christmas presents on Christmas Day. While my answer was not well-taken, and not the whole story, I do have a plan to have them open one present per day, but only after Christmas Day has passed. Here’s what I mean.
Traditionally, in the Western Church, the celebration of Jesus’s birth has been on December 25. Then Epiphany (commemorating the visit of the Magi) is celebrated on January 6. The song “Twelve Days of Christmas” reminds us of these 12 days, beginning on December 26 and ending on January 6.
This year, our children will open small, significant gifts on each of these 12 days. It’s a way to stretch out the celebration of Jesus’s birth and to teach (or remind) our children of some important things through gift-giving. Each gift has a small note attached, which either includes a reminder (or a Scripture) of how to act more like Jesus. Here’s the plan for our 12 Days of Christmas:
Day 1 (December 26): Socks: Use your feet to be like Jesus.
Day 2 (December 27): Journal (or notebook): Quote from Henry Blackaby in Christian workbook Experiencing God: “If the God of the universe tells you something, you should write it down.”
Day 3 (December 28): Pack of gum: “Don’t let any evil talk come out of your mouths. Say only what will help to build others up and meet their needs. Then what you say will help those who listen,” Ephesians 4:29 (NIrV).
Day 4 (December 29): Small Toy (Transformer in small package/Rock n Royal Barbie, or something else): It’s fun to play and to pretend, but be yourself to be a friend. (Toys allow children to use their imaginations and to pretend to be someone they’re not. That’s great, but in real life, we should be ourselves and not pretend to be someone else.)
Day 5 (December 30): Nativity Set Craft (Michael’s or Hobby Lobby): Each child should complete the nativity scene craft and then tell the story of Jesus’s birth to a friend or family member.
Day 6 (December 31): Selfie Stick/Mirror: “Suppose someone listens to the word but doesn’t do what it says. Then they are like a person who looks at their face in a mirror. 24 After looking at themselves, they leave. And right away they forget what they look like. 25 But suppose someone takes a good look at the perfect law that gives freedom. And they keep looking at it. Suppose they don’t forget what they’ve heard, but they do what the law says. Then this person will be blessed in what they do,” James 1:23-25 (NIrV).
Day 7 (January 1): Reindeer plush toy (or any other toy): Jesus was a gift for us. Oh, what a special treat! Today you get a toy, but not for you to keep. Choose someone to give it to, and give the toy away. As you give, you act like Jesus and make a person’s day!
Day 8 (January 2): Mini Bible key chain (from Oriental Trading Company): “Never stop reading this Book of the Law. Day and night you must think about what it says. Make sure you do everything written in it. Then things will go well with you. And you will have great success,” Joshua 1:8 (NIrV).
Day 9 (January 3): Pajamas: “Be still and wait patiently for the Lord to act. Don’t be upset when other people succeed. Don’t be upset when they carry out their evil plans,” Psalm 37:7 (NIrV). (In our home, pajamas mean it’s time to rest and be still.)
Day 10 (January 4): Underwear/panties: “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self,created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness,” Ephesians 4:22-24 (NIV). (I teach children to picture this passage as taking off dirty clothes and putting on clean ones.)
Day 11 (January 5): Fleece shirt (coat, sweatshirt): “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” Ephesians 6:10-17, NIV. (When children put on the coat/fleece shirt, they can imagine themselves getting ready for battle. As they get dressed, remind them that they just put on the coverings, and God does the fighting.)
Day 12 (January 6): Desk Globe (holiday gift section at Kohl’s), World Map stud earrings (Etsy): “He said to them, “Go into all the world. Preach the good news to everyone,” Mark 16:15 (NIrV).
I hope that you’ll embrace the Christmas celebrations, in their full, sparkly, cozy glory, and that you’ll also take time to focus on the real reason for Christmas, the birth of Jesus. Throughout the season, use real-life circumstances and objects to remind your children (and yourself) about why we celebrate. Each mini lesson gives you a chance to make an eternal impact on the lives of your children.