Written by Jane Larsen, Director of Connections, Legacy Coalition
As a new grandma this year, Christmas has a feeling of fresh joy as I think about what our time together will be like with a precious 10-month-old.
When I first began my “mental preparations” for this special first Christmas, I found myself “Pinterest Planning.”
I had visions of a tiny tree just for her with her first ornaments; her hand traced for an ornament to be treasured for years to come; a darling nativity set just for little hands to enjoy.
I quickly had a longer-than-reasonable list. And then, the list grew! I began asking friends what they were doing for their grandchildren. So many wonderful ideas and traditions!
I added them to my ever-growing list of ideas to make the first Christmas with Melia (my granddaughter) so perfect.
I’m guessing you see where this is going. I was thinking more about our grandbaby and Christmas traditions than keeping my heart’s focus on the WHO and WHY of Christmas.
As I was looking through a few books I brought home with me from the Legacy Grandparenting Summit, I came across “God Made Music” by Baby Faith.
The bottom cover says, “Baby’s first exposure to God’s Word.” That was my lightbulb moment from the Lord!
It’s as if He whispered to my heart, “Jane, what have I laid on your heart this season? What do you see Me doing that you want to share with your family?”
I’m thankful the Lord redirected my heart and thoughts. So while I can’t offer wise counsel from years of celebrating Christmas with my grandchild, I can share what the Lord has quickly done in my life this first Christmas.
With hope and prayer, you will find encouragement and help for your special ‘firsts’ with your grandbaby. (Bonus – some practical tips at the end!)
Tend to Your Own Soul This Christmas
You can’t give what you don’t have. Time with the Lord is essential – and your soul longs for Him.
I already know my best days start with Pandora playing Christmas music in the background, creamy coffee in a mug, and my advent Bible study from She Reads Truth.
I sit, savor, read, and write and He does so much in my heart. If you have not yet found what works for you, just ask Him and then try something.
We get done what matters most to us – and sometimes we need to humbly ask the Lord to help us desire more of Him.
I’ve said to Him before, “Please help me want more time with you. On my own I am selfish.” He has been faithful to that request.
Tend to YOUR Children This Christmas
Whatever the state of your relationship with them, they will benefit from having parents who love the Lord, who spend time with Him daily, and who care about them as the Lord cares for them.
I already know how easy it is to think of our granddaughter, Melia, in all our preparations; yet her parents, my son and daughter-in-law, are still our primary focus.
How are they as a couple and as individuals? Are they finding the joy of Jesus this Christmas?
As we continue to pray for them, encourage them, and find those tender moments for purposeful conversation, I know Melia will be blessed too.
Are apologies needed? Personal expectations set aside? Do you need a flood of forgiveness and grace over your heart so you can love them generously?
Whatever is needed, go back to the previous point. Be confident the Lord can use you to provide what your children need.
Do What God Lays on Your Heart This Christmas
… not what Pinterest or Instagram says you should do.
I love getting ideas – lots of them! And while it’s helpful and fun to gather ideas, it’s extra wonderful when you have an idea you know is from the Lord.
When I had that baby book in hand and read that sentence, “Baby’s first exposure to God’s Word,” I knew at that moment I wanted our first Christmas, and every Christmas following, to focus more on God’s Word (And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, John 1:14a), the treasure of it, than on other gifts or experiences.
My personal focus this past season has been The Word, worship, and prayer. So with those in mind, the new baby toy was tossed out of the shopping cart and a little wooden musical toy was chosen.
I can just see Melia making noises with those instruments as she listens to worship music!
I’m writing a prayer for her – she can’t read it yet, but her parents sure can. And I’ve wrapped a copy of one of my favorite Bible storybooks that her daddy also loved when he was her age.
God is intimate and personal and I think you will love what you do for this special Christmas when your ideas and plans are from Him – even if He may use ideas from Pinterest and Instagram!
I will be asking myself in the days before Christmas, “What has our family done that mattered?”
Asking questions to give clarity of purpose ahead of time can be helpful as you prioritize what matters most. You may find a shorter ‘to-do’ list and some greatly valued extra time in your schedule.
If you haven’t already identified a few role-model grandmas you can look to and even go to for encouragement, ideas, advice – make it a 2022 goal!
Find those special ladies and let them know you are learning from them! I’m sharing with you what I learned from mine. I’m so thankful for them!
- Honor the preferences of the baby’s mom and dad. If they don’t want a plastic nativity set, find out if a wooden set would work, or maybe a fabric set. If they don’t have room for big toys, find out what is on their wish list and stick to that.
- Don’t outdo mom and dad. It may not be a good time to give ten presents if mom and dad are giving three. Bottom line – talk through expectations and boundaries ahead of time. We may need to lay aside our preferences to honor and bless our children and grandbaby. In doing that, we really do reflect Jesus and His sacrificial love.
- Think long term. Will you do the same thing for each grandbaby to follow if the Lord allows more? Keeping gift giving simple and realistic will likely be a blessing to you in the long term.
Serve the family with the new baby/child:
- The new parents are likely tired! Adjusting to a new baby/child in the home is a big life change. Are you able to give them some rest? Are you able to help lighten their load so they can enjoy Christmas more?
- If possible, have a mindset of serving. If you head into these next few days with the intent to serve your family, you will most likely have a deep abiding joy. Will you be tired? Probably! But being ‘spent’ for the sake of our children and their children is usually a good thing! As we willingly serve our families, we are a picture of Jesus who came to serve us so we might have life in Him! Anything I can do to remind my family of Jesus matters! Those are the things I want to do the most. May our children and grandchildren see Jesus in us, so they will love Him when they are young and for the rest of their lives.
Work with what you have – and be thankful:
- A key to contentment is thankfulness. As you thank the Lord for what you do have, you will be far more content with your Christmas, even if it’s far from perfect. Then you will be able to joyfully work with what you have and not live in misery about what you don’t. Do you get to be together for a short time? Maybe not at all? Are you on a limited budget? Has there been sadness and loss this past year? Is your family messy? Do they love Jesus or are they antagonistic toward Him? Whatever the case, take what you have to work with and use that to serve the Lord and your family. It may be as simple as praying for them over the phone from afar on Christmas day or it may be spending time in prayer on their behalf without them even knowing. Focus on Him, use what He’s given you, and rejoice. Then trust Him to work in their lives. He loves them more – far more.
- With each activity, gift, event – with all you do, ask yourself what you can do with this to make it an intentional time to focus on Jesus. If you share a Christmas meal together, have purposeful questions at the table for each one to share. Will you celebrate the birth of Jesus with a festive cake? Will gift opening include conversation about the gift of Jesus for each of us? When you think about “intentional Christian grandparenting” in all of your planning, the ordinary activities will suddenly have great purpose!