"How did you know?" I asked my Aunt Mimi as I unwrapped Malibu Barbie. We were celebrating my birthday and she had come all the way from Orlando, Florida to see me. Everyone in the room smiled. They all knew I loved Barbies.
Then came my favorite foods for dinner: fried chicken, macaroni-n-cheese, and fresh green beans. Best of all, there was an ice cream cake for dessert.
As I crawled into bed that night, I couldn't stop smiling. It had been a perfect birthday. My parents, my sister, my friends, and my family had made me feel special and loved. The day had been all about me!
I love birthdays, especially recreating for others the magical days my mother and father created for me growing up. I enjoy fixing favorite dishes, buying special gifts, and planning special moments that are exactly what the birthday boy or girl wants.
So, as we approach Christmas again this year, I want to keep in mind that Christmas is a birthday. Not just any birthday; Christmas is a King's birthday.
In the Netherlands, King's Day, celebrated on King Willem-Alexander's birthday, is a national holiday. Most stores close down and people celebrate. There are parties, parades, concerts, and all kinds of festivities. The king and his family join the people in their celebrating. Since the king is a member of the House of Orange, everyone wears orange and waves orange flags. Some people even wear orange wigs.
In the United Kingdom, the Queen's Official Birthday is celebrated the second Saturday in June. Until 1936, it was celebrated on the reigning king or queen's official birthday, but when George V died, it was decided to make the official celebration the second Saturday in June. Her majesty's birthday is celebrated with a parade, gun salutes, and a host of festivities. Queen Elizabeth walks around outside of the palace greeting well-wishes. She and her entire family also appear on the balcony at Buckingham Palace and the Royal Air Force flies overhead.
In the Netherlands and England, the people want their monarch to know they are loved, admired, appreciated, and celebrated. It's a lovely time to be had by all.
With that in mind, let's celebrate Christmas as a birthday! Here are some ways to keep the birthday person JESUS in mind as we plan celebrations that He enjoys and show him adoration and honor.
God the Father prepared for the first Christmas, the original birth day of the King of Kings. Lining up empires and languages, He chose the perfect time for His Son to be born. Then he left little clues about Jesus' birth through prophetic words and pictures of Christ for 4,000 years.
You see from Genesis to Revelation, the Bible reveals Jesus as Creator/Redeemer/King.
God planned the birth party, including who would sing and who would be the guests. He had the angels choirs sing and had both domestic and foreign visitors. The shepherds were local, but the wise men traveled a long distance to see the baby.
If God went to so much trouble preparing for His initial birth, then shouldn't we do the same in preparing for His annual birthday celebration?
God the Father commemorates special events like Passover or the stones that commemorate crossing the Jordan River.
When we celebrate Jesus' birthday, do we remember the Passover meal or the memorial stones near the Jordan River? The Lords often uses symbolism and memorials to help us remember. Traditions that represent or teach Jesus and His Salvation are a great way to give the Birthday King what He wants.
What will draw our hearts and our family's hearts closer to Jesus this holiday season? Choose the best over the good and mediocre. Schedule in time for rest and reflection.
What Jesus Wants
One thing we love to do on birthdays is play the Encouragement Game.
Everyone goes around and shares things they appreciate about the birthday person. It is often a tearful time as the birthday person is blessed and others realize how much he or she means to them.
We can do that with Jesus at Christmas. Think of all the things we appreciate about Jesus, starting with His help at Creation.
“For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16 NASB).
Jesus wants our worship everyday, so we know that during the Christmas season, He wants our worship.
What else does Jesus want for His birthday.
Well, we know from His Word that He appreciates:
Let's Throw a Party
Is Jesus, the birthday person, the focus of all our preparations or is he on the periphery?
If Jesus is the focus of your celebration, then let's celebrate! Let’s throw a party!
Here are some Christ-centered ways to honor Jesus and celebrate His birthday:
Happy Birthday to You
We always put candles in our Christmas morning cinnamon rolls and sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus.
Birthday Party for Jesus
When the children were younger, we would have a party for Jesus, inviting friends to join the festivities. We play "Pin the Tail on Mary's Donkey," make an ornament, enjoy a pinata, and eat cake and ice cream.
Purchase Gifts for Baby Jesus
We love to purchase baby blankets, clothing, rattles, diapers, wipes, and other baby stuff for a baby boy. Then we donate everything to a Crisis Pregnancy Center.
Time Set Aside for Worship
We love to play worship music and worship together in the family room. Of course, at Christmastime, we play Christmas worship music.
Mike and I love to snuggle together with all the lights off except the Christmas tree lights. It is romantic and soothing, giving us an opportunity to step away from busyness and just relax together.
Our Curtis Family Christmas Devotions were written back in 1991 and we still use them! We love them! They have Scripture to read, questions to discuss, and carols to sing. They have brought deep meaning to the Christmas story over the years covering all the little details, angel appearing to Mary, Elizabeth & Zachariah, Mary's Song, Zacariah's Song, Joseph's Dream, Trip to Bethlehem, Birth, Shepherds, Wise Men, Anna, Simeon, and Flight to Egypt.
Making Family Memories
God our precious Heavenly Father created the family to reflect His Forever Family. Creating memories together helps to cement that bond of love, making it easier to reflect the love of Jesus to a dying world.
Inviting the Lost to the Birthday Party
Jesus came to seek and save the lost. He is concerned about the lost and broken. At Christmas, we have the real message of hope. It's not what Santa can bring you, but what Jesus has accomplished for you through His cross and resurrection! Think of creative ways to tell people about Jesus. We go Christmas caroling and invite neighbors to church. We also create little tracts that share the Gospel message. Sharing the Gospel of Hope can happen on Facebook, in person, or through emails. However you do it, share the Gospel with those who need to hear it.
If you can grasp these principles and ideas as a family, it will change your Christmas celebrations forever to be more festive and joyous than you could ever imagine.
Love, love, love to each of you and Merry Christmas.