what your kids really want for Christmas

designIt wasn’t until a few years ago, after I watched my own kids tear through packages and barely finish opening one gift before they were tearing through the next, that I realized I wasn’t giving my kids what they really wanted for Christmas. While I loved seeing their faces light up as they raced down the stairs to find endless packages, filled with all of the things they’d asked for, I also found myself quickly frustrated by New Years day when they could barely recall most of the gifts they’d just been given. Yes, all of that stuff they absolutely had to have to be happy now sat abandoned at the bottom of the toy box, to be remembered no more.

They were learning early that there is nothing in this world that can satisfy us like the love of Jesus. Of course they wouldn’t have said it that way, but I know, and you know, that all of that stuff doesn’t bring us joy- or real, lasting joy, at least. It brings some temporary thrill but, oh, then we just need more.

And I wanted to give my kids more. So much more. But not this kind of more. I wanted to give them more of Jesus.

I don't want my boys to remember Christmas as that time of year when you do a year-end performance evaluation on yourself, assessing whether you’ve been more naughty or nice, and then wait to be rewarded accordingly by Santa.

I want them to remember the anticipation, the thrill, the joy of celebrating the Christmas miracle.

Love was born.

Christ has come.

The greatest gift has been given.

We can tear up the naughty and nice lists.

Jesus has done for you and me what you could never do for ourselves.

We now have God’s unfailing and forever love.

So come. Come let us adore Him!


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This means

drawing nearer to the heart of Christ,

choosing memorable experiences over fleeting tangibles,

and serving and giving to those in need.


Because no matter what our their lists are asking for, what every child really wants is LOVE. To love and be loved.

And these are just a few simple ways we can give and share that love with gifts that won’t end up at the bottom of the toy box.


* The gift of Jesus

We can let our hearts draw nearer to Christ as the calendar draws nearer to Christmas.

And these few gems are going to help us do just that.


One for them, one for me, one for all of us.

We will gather, we will read, we will talk, we will pray, we will play.

We will celebrate the coming of our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. 


*The gift of presence

We can lean in. Listen. Create simple moments and memorable experiences. Spend more time and less money. Yes, less doing and more being.

Our presence is the present they want.


*The gift of giving

We can give and serve and love.

One thing we have always done with our kids is a “Happy Birthday Jesus” party on Christmas Eve. We make the cupcakes and we sing the happy birthday song and we blow out the candles. Small and silly, I know, but just one more way to remember the One we celebrate.

And several years ago, after the candles were blown out and my boys were licking the frosting off their cupcakes, my son Brennan turned to me with a curious face and asked, “But Mom, if it’s Jesus’s birthday, where are His presents? What did we give to Him?”

What Jesus wants is our love, our trust, our hearts. He wants us.

He wants us to love Him and love one another. And we can love Him by loving one another. As Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

I have seen the joy in my children’s eyes as they’ve come to experience loving and serving and giving as Christ has first loved and served and given to us.

Our children long to know that they are part of something bigger than themselves – that they have been created for a purpose!

Yesterday we gathered with lots of other families to stuff stockings for some beautiful children in an orphanage in Haiti called Danita's Children. We made them cards filled with words of love and we committed to praying for each one of them by name.  It was a memory I know my children (and I!) will never forget.

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And this is only the beginning. We have 25 more days till Christmas to make it less about us and more about Him. Next stop, stocking shelves at the local food bank, serving dinner at the local shelter, and providing gifts to children right here in our very own backyard in CT state foster care.

We’re not adding more busyness, we’re rearranging priorities.

Through places in our local communities to organizations like

Danita’s Children Operation Christmas Child International Justice Mission Compassion International World Vision,

and many more, we can bring gifts to Jesus in celebration of the greatest gift that has already been given.

Oh come let us adore Him. Oh come let us adore Him. Oh come let us adore Him. Christ the Lord!

PS- I'll be adoring Him with SheReadsTruth every morning - will you join me there? "As we adore the radiant beauty of Christ, our hearts begin to repent, our souls bubble with expectation, and the net of invitation casts out deep and wide, just as it was meant to do all along. Come, friends. Let us adore Him together today!"  ~ SheReadsTruth


For more encouragement in your parenting journey, purchase my newly released book: Parenting the Wholehearted Child - Your kids aren't perfect and you don't have to be either! Image 2