Pageants, parties and shopping. Decorating, caroling and more shopping. In the midst of holiday busyness and rampant commercialism, how do you keep your family grounded in Christ? Give your children the gift of your time and your faith, rather than the gift of your stuff,” recommends Dennis Rainey, author and president/co-founder of FamilyLife.


According to Rainey, children desire special Christmas memories with us, not just gifts from us. “They need parents who will be purposeful in passing on convictions and a system of beliefs. The faith we give our children should be alive and vibrant, not stale or cold,” Rainey adds. “They need to see we’re excited about our relationship with Jesus Christ.”


To help sow spiritual seeds in your child’s heart, FamilyLife created a resource called Adorenaments. Each uniquely shaped ornament is a mini-book that opens to reveal a name of Jesus in Scripture. The short devotions teach children about God’s character qualities.


“At Christmas,” says Rainey, “all families need to do something purposeful around who Jesus Christ is, and introduce kids to His qualities. Children get their first image of who God is from parents. We just need to be sure we are introducing them to the authentic Lord Jesus Christ, not a holiday imposter.”

The Gift of You


In sharing practical tips for keeping families spiritually strong during the Christmas season, Rainey points out, “We are a very materialistic culture, top to bottom, and too much of our lives is defined by stuff.” So, instead of a material present, give your children something they can look forward to throughout the year, like a trip or special event. Create something around your child’s interests that will be a memory maker.


“Barbara and I have done this with our children over the years,” Rainey shares. “I’ve taken my son to Alaska to go fishing. And my wife has taken a five-day road trip with our daughters to go antiquing. It wasn’t so much what they bought as what they experienced, spending a chunk of time together just hanging out.”


Another gift you could give your child would be a date night once a month. “I would take my daughters shopping, which is the equivalent of taking my sons hunting,” says Rainey, laughing. “My daughters like to bag a clothing item or two, and I like to spoil them a bit. It was always a battle, though, to take them shopping because as clothing has become more and more immodest, I had to be careful that the shopping date didn’t turn out negative and undermine the very relationship I was seeking to build.”


On other occasions, Rainey would take one or two of his children aside and go to a local restaurant. They would order some donuts and read through the Proverbs together. “That proved to be a real valuable time in terms of providing a spiritual wheel alignment for our kids.”


The Gift of Common Values