Making the Holidays Holy Days
About the Guest
Christmas traditions are as unique as the families that practice them. Barbara Rainey recalls how eager her children, now grown, once were to open their presents, and two of her kids, Laura and Samuel, talk about the deliberate way the Rainey family opened gifts. Barbara and Tracey Eyster, Creator and Editor of MomLifeToday.com, share their excitement for FamilyLife's resource, Adorenaments, and tell how parents can use them to teach their children the names of Christ.
Barbara Rainey and Tracey Eyster, tell how parents can use Adorenaments to teach their children the names of Christ.
Bob: During this time of year we sometimes hear people talking about making the holidays more meaningful. The truth is we don’t make the holidays meaningful—they are meaningful. The question is: “Are we paying attention to the meaning?” Here’s Barbara Rainey.
Barbara: I think that’s what we moms intuitively sense. We go to all the trouble because we want it to be meaningful, and we want it to be memorable. It can be memorable without the meaning; but when you add the meaning of what Christmas is all about, and you talk about the names of Christ, that’s the kind of meaning we’re looking for. It’s the kind of depth that we long for, as moms, that we know will bind our hearts to our children and our children back to us.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today forWednesday, December 4th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We’ll talk today about the power of traditions, especially at Christmas time. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition. I’m just curious: “What’s the earliest start time for Christmas at your house?” When the kids were really little, did you have a start time that you set?
Barbara: This high-control mother right here—
Dennis: Yes, this is Barbara, back again on FamilyLife Today. Welcome back, Sweetheart.
Barbara: Thank you. I will confess that I was a high-control mom when it came to Christmas because I didn’t want to miss out on anything. So, by golly, if they were going to wake up at 5 a.m., they could wake up at 5 a.m. They could just get together in their little room, and they could just chit chat until I was ready to be down there with the camera so we could record everything.
Bob: And what time was that?
Dennis: Well, no, no, no. Here’s what we did, Bob—
Barbara: Oh, whenever I wanted to get down there. It wasn’t going to be 5 a.m.! [Laughter]
Dennis: —we had a tradition that they could not go into the room where the Christmas tree, and where the packages were,—
Barbara: The presents—that’s right.
Dennis: —and the stockings, and all the goods that were laid out to surprise them. They had to wait; and it was around the corner or on the stairwell.
Barbara: Somewhere out of sight.
Dennis: And it was like they were imprisoned. It was grim.
Bob: Well, one of your children apparently did not abide completely by that rule.
Barbara: Really? Oh, this is going to be a surprise.
Bob: Apparently so because we talked with your youngest daughter. Here’s what she shared with us.
Laura: [Phone recording] You know, I probably, being the youngest in my family, I was the only one that would literally stay up all night—probably until—like high school. I got so excited about Christmas. I would spend some quality time on the floor, under the tree, looking at my gifts, trying to figure out what was there. I would also—four days before, I would start getting really excited. Then, Christmas Eve, I was super pumped, and couldn’t go to sleep, and was always the first one up.
My brothers, as they got older, they teased me: “I’m going to shower,” and then, everyone was like: “Oh, that’s a great idea. I’m going to shower, too.”
So, they would all take showers. I’m almost in tears because I just want to go downstairs, and open presents, and start the fun day.
Bob: She was ready to go; wasn’t she?
Barbara: She was always ready to go, and she’s really right. She did not sleep the night before, bless her heart. And she still is that way! I mean, she’s in her late 20s. When she gets really excited about something, she just can’t sleep. She was like that as a kid. She’d go to bed at night, and she’d lay there awake, and she just couldn’t sleep for the excitement of it all.
Bob: On the other side of the spectrum, was your son, Samuel, who had a different view of how Christmas came down at your house.
Samuel: [Phone recording] We didn’t celebrate Christmas the way everybody else did because our Christmases lasted four or five hours. They were never instantaneously over. They tried to focus the Christmas season on giving as opposed to receiving. So, basically, you would go get all the presents you were going to give to the other family members. You would put those all in front of you.
Then, one person would give a present to—let’s say Ashley would give a present to me. I would open that present, and then I’d get to choose who I wanted to give a present to. So, you receive a gift and then you get to give one. It was about trying to make the focus on giving. I can’t say that I was conscious, at the time; but I knew that the way that we did it was probably very different. That was just because we did most things different in our household. [Laughter]
Barbara: That means—[Laughter]
Bob: Well, I’ll tell you what it means. It means that what you practiced at your household is now being carried into the next generation of Rainey grandchildren.
Grandchild 1: [Phone recording] Mimi and Papa, thank you for giving us this tradition. It focuses on the spirit of giving, as well as being thankful for receiving, and also for allowing others who are younger than ourselves to go first—to take a turn first—and also to be serious when we need to and silly whenever we need to.
Grandchild 2: [Phone recording] Mimi and Papa, I’m thankful that you guys taught us a lot about giving things to Jesus on Christmas, and that Christmas isn’t just all about presents. It’s about Jesus, too.
Grandchild 3: [Phone recording] I’m still really fired up about Christmas. I love Christmas. I like the fact that we do it a little differently than some other people that we know.
Grandchild 4: [Phone recording] I would say, Mimi and Papa—that they’re good grandparents—and they’re really fun. That’s what I really like about them.
Grandchild 5: [Phone recording] The fun thing about giving is when you give them a really fun or cool present. Then, I think it’s just kind of fun to give and watch the expression when they find out what they got.
Grandchild 6: [Phone recording] For Christmas, I would just dump out my whole stocking thing. It would be so awesome. The first thing, I give presents to like Mom/Dad. Then, Mom gives me a present and I rip it open! Then, after that, we literally give everybody their presents. We all grab one present, and one person opens one, and we keep on going around.
Grandchild 7: [Phone recording] Mimi and Papa, I just want to say how much I thank you for being great grandparents. I thank you for the idea of giving your presents to the person. I think that really helped me and us to think more about the spirit of giving instead of receiving. I just want to thank you for what a great job you’ve done, and I just want to say I love you very much.
Grandchild 8: [Phone recording] I want to say to Mimi, “Merry Christmas, Mimi.” “Merry Christmas, Papa.”
Barbara: Sweet! [Laughter]
Bob: Kind of fun to hear from the grandkids; isn’t it?—
Barbara: Kind of fun to hear from them at Christmas—recognize—
Bob: —and to hear that the tradition, that was a part of your family—it looks like their moms and dads have passed that same thing along.
Barbara: Sounds like James got it.
Bob: Traditions are a big part of every holiday. There is something about the repetitive nature—the fact that we’ve done it this way for years—that there’s meaning there. I’m not exactly sure why. Do you know why? Have you thought through why traditions are important?
Barbara: Yes, I think there are a couple of reasons. I think one of the reasons is because it’s kind of this invisible thread that ties us together, as a family because “This is the way we always do it.” It’s like our kids just said: “We did things differently than other families.” But I also think that traditions are important because they tie us to an invisible reality—an eternal reality—that we’re not aware of a lot of times.
Just gift-giving, even, is a picture of what God has done for us when God gave us His Son—and the wise men gave gifts to Christ. The whole idea of gift-giving has an eternal significance, too. It’s not just a temporal, material thing. I think those traditions are important in teaching us about reality; but also they bind us together, as a family.
Dennis: I think also repetition drives home some points. We find it in the Lord’s Supper: “As oft as you drink this cup and eat this bread,” you celebrate what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross. I think He gave us the Lord’s Supper as a way to revisit that truth and revisit it frequently.
Bob: We have Tracey Eyster, who gives leadership to the MomLife Today® website, here at FamilyLife. She is back joining us again today. Welcome back, Tracey.
Tracey: Good to be here. Thanks.
Bob: You have been talking to moms about traditions—about what they do, about whether they have family traditions that are passed from generation to generation. What kinds of things are MomLife Today readers saying to you?
Tracey: Well, there are quite a few moms out there who don’t have traditions. So, that’s one of the things that makes me so very excited about what Barbara has done in creating this collection of ornaments because now she is empowering moms out there to know how to start new traditions in their home.
Bob: Yes, these Adorenaments® that you’re talking about are Christmas tree ornaments, each one with a different name for Jesus on the ornament. Last year, there was a set of seven Christmas names that Barbara developed. This year, in addition to that set, there is also a new set of seven royal namesof Jesus—each one in the shape of a crown—a different-looking crown with different names. The idea with these ornaments is that a mom or a dad can use these to decorate the tree; but at the same time, to disciple their kids; right?
Tracey: Right. I asked some of the moms that are part of MomLife Today: “What do you do? How do you all celebrate Christmas?” I know that moms want this information because one mom—her name is Billie—she said that what they do is they have where they give their children three gifts because they want to mimic the three gifts that Christ got from the wise men.
Another mom said: “We have birthday cakes. We have a big birthday cake for Jesus. We’ll sing Happy Birthday. We turn it into understanding that it’s His birthday—not just Christmas.”
I do think that moms are looking for ways to take biblical truth and have meaningful Christmas time, or meaningful Christmas moments, with their children.
Barbara: I totally agree because we got quite a few comments, last year, from moms who bought the Adorenamentsand who did them with their children—even children as young as two, three and four—because they’re not breakable.
They’re not fragile ornaments. A two-year-old can hang the names of Jesus on the tree. Moms and dads don’t have to be afraid that they’re going to break. They’re sturdy enough that the ornaments will grow as they grow, and they’ll still have them when they’re teenagers.
I think moms intuitively know—we’re going to all this trouble to decorate our homes, we’re going to all this trouble to bake cookies, and do these things, and have family over—and it’s because we want to impart meaning, and we want to impart spiritual truth. The ornaments help us do that—help us take that effort—that we’re putting into making Christmas a special memorable event in our families’ lives—and it gives us a way to communicate spiritual truth.
Bob: You had one of your MomLife Today readers who wrote to you about something I hadn’t heard of before—something about the three kings of Christmas?
Tracey: It’s Three Kings Day. Evidently, her husband is Hispanic. Her name is Leah. She said that Three Kings Day is on January 6th. It represents the day when the three wise men came to Jesus to bring Him gifts.
What they do is—they find someone in their community—a child who is needy. Then, her family—they get excited. They decide, “What can we get this child?” They go and buy three gifts, and they take it to a needy child.
Barbara: That’s a cool idea. Does that parallel Epiphany? I think it does—January—what do you think, Bob?
Bob: Yes, I think so. January 6th because there was a lag time from the time the wise men came.
Bob: I just have to mention—you know, we don’t know that there were three.
Barbara: No we don’t. That’s correct.
Bob: The reason why we think there were three is what? There were three gifts.
Dennis: The gifts. That’s what I was going—
Bob: That’s right. But it could have—
Barbara: They could have had an entire retinue with them.
Bob: It could have been dozens of kings bringing three gifts. Walk us through the seven royal names that you selected to be this year’s set of ornaments. King of Kings was the first one; right?
Barbara: Well, actually, it’s not the first one. In the box of seven ornaments is a booklet, and the booklet starts with The Almighty. King of Kings is near the end of it.
There’s not a numerical order in the Bible—that’s just the way I put them.
Dennis: The book is like a cheat sheet for parents or for grandparents.
Barbara: It’s a really beautiful cheat sheet, by the way. [Laughter]
Dennis: I’m sorry I said—[Laughter]
Bob: You called your wife’s book a cheat sheet?! [Laughter] Oh, Dennis!
Dennis: It’s really a book that explains the history of royalty, of crowns, of glory and honor. It really helps parents, I think, look like experts as they read. About this first one, The Almighty, there is Revelation 1:8— “I am the Almighty”—and then, she tells a story. You can read all of this in probably less than three minutes—out loud to your kids. It’s amazing how many points children can learn and retain around the truth that’s passed on in a book like this.
Bob: Right. So the booklet gives a read-aloud devotional for moms and dads. As you hang the ornament on the tree, you can read: “What does it mean that Jesus is the Almighty?”
Bob: You can read Revelation, Chapter 1, verse 8; and then, read through what you’ve written there; right?
Barbara: Yes. You can read the story that goes with the name, “The Almighty”. Part of the story is what happened in that first chapter of Revelation—when John was transported to heaven. It gives you a glimpse into the passage where that name is found, too.
Bob: In addition to The Almighty, what’s the second one?
Barbara: The second one is Lion of Judah. The reason Lion of Judah is second is because it was mentioned in Genesis. Lion of Judah was a term that was prophesied over the man, Judah, the son of Israel—about one of his descendants—that one of his descendants would be the Lion of Judah.
There are lots of innuendos and lots of things connected to that; but it’s a really important name because then later on in Revelation, at the end of the Bible, Jesus is referred to as the Lion of Judah.
So, it’s important for us to understand why that was important in Genesis—why that was spoken to Judah about one of His descendants—because then that, eventually, was named of Christ Himself.
Bob: Alright. Third Adorenament is—
Barbara: The third one is Son of David. That is a reference to David, the King of Israel, who ruled for 40 years, and had a great heart, and followed after God. God promised David, when he was on the throne, that he would never lack a descendant to sit on the throne. Therefore, David knew that he would always have a descendant who would be King of Israel.
For decades—for centuries—the Jewish people knew that the coming king—the coming Messiah—had to be a son of David because that was a part of the prophecy. So, that’s another name that refers to Christ.
Dennis: The cool thing about this name is she starts with Matthew 1:1: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the son of Abraham.”
Royalty always had a sense of being passed on from generation to generation. Isn’t it interesting that, when God stepped out of eternity onto planet Earth, He had allowed there to be a great illustration—through all the hundreds and thousands of kings throughout history—because there have been tens of thousands of kings lived and died. Everybody, in every culture, understands royalty—understands genealogy. Here is Jesus—who you can trace all the way back to when the promise was made to Abraham.
Bob: Yes. What’s the fourth of the royal names of Jesus?
Barbara: The fourth is King of Israel. That is because the people knew that the man who followed David would also be King of Israel because David was King of Israel. Therefore, the coming Messiah would also be King of Israel. It’s interesting that when Nathaniel, one of the disciples, first saw Jesus—when he first met Him, he called Him King of Israel.
I just find that really fascinating—that this man, when he first met Him—that was what he called Him. He didn’t call Him Son of David. He didn’t call Him Messiah. He didn’t call Him Teacher. He didn’t call Him, “Oh, I hear that you’re a great prophet.” He used the term King of Israel to describe Jesus when he met Him.
Bob: Well, it had been centuries since Israel had had a king.
Barbara: Yes it had. That’s right.
Bob: And Israel was longing for a ruler to come to be a deliverer—but to rule in righteousness—to rule as David ruled. So, they were looking for a Messiah to be their king.
Barbara: That’s right. They had been looking for a long, long time. There was something about Jesus, when Nathaniel met Him, that he recognized His royalty and His divinity. He called Him King of Israel.
Bob: The fifth royal name?
Barbara: The fifth royal name is Prince of Princes. This is a reference found in the book of Daniel. It’s in one of Daniel’s visions. It was talking about how the enemy—how Satan was going to attack the Prince of Princes.
But then the term is used of Jesus in several other passages. He is called the Prince of Life. Of course, we know that He is called the Prince of Peace; but He is referred to as Prince several other times.
We know, because He is one with God the Father—that Jesus, as the Son, also is the Prince. He is the rightful heir to the throne. So, when He lived on earth, He was not King. He didn’t rule as king; and yet, He was fully God and fully the Prince of the earth.
Dennis: Let me just read what Barbara wrote in this section of the book:
Who is this Prince of Princes? A prince, of course, is the son of a king. Fairy tales abound in which the good royals act with bravery, honor, and concern for their subjects. Listening to these stories, children wish they were a prince or a princess.
Intuitively, we all long to live honorably and righteously; but we don’t often know how. This is why it is quite amazing that we can belong to the royal family through Jesus Christ. As the Prince of Life—the Prince and Savior—and the name we know so well, the Prince of Peace, from Isaiah 9:6, He will care for our deepest needs and will transform us into His likeness. Jesus is the Prince of Princes.
Bob: The last two names you picked, King of Kings and what’s the—
Barbara: And Lord of Lords.
Bob: And Lord of Lords.
Barbara: I describe them as two sides of the same coin because you can’t have the King of Kings without the Lord of Lords. So, we have a crown in the collection that says “King of Kings; and then, another crown—that’s another shape and another size—that is “Lord of Lords.”
This is the name that is in Timothy; but it’s the name that is most well-known from Revelation because, when He comes back as the conquering, ruling king, that name is written on Him. It will be clear to everyone, even if it wasn’t written on Him, that He will be the King of kings and Lord of lords.
There have been hundreds, and thousands, and thousands of kings throughout the ages. Some of them were pretty powerful. Some of them ruled the whole earth. Some of them had quite a dominion, and quite a reach, and quite a lot of wealth; but Jesus is still going to be a greater king. When He comes back, He is greater—and His rule will be greater than all of the kings who have ever lived put together.
Bob: I think our listeners, who have heard us talking about all that you’ve been working on, are probably going to want to see what you have created with your Adorenaments, especially the new collection—the royal names of Jesus—the crowns that can be hung on Christmas trees.
I’d encourage listeners: Go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click on the link you see there for Adorenaments. You can see the work there that Barbara has been busy with; and you can order sets of Adorenamentsfrom us, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com.
If you didn’t get a set of Jesus’ Christmas names last year, those are available this year, as well. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com and order online; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY; 1-800-358-6329; that’s1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”. Ask about the Adorenamentswhen you get in touch with us.
This past weekend, I had an opportunity to be with some FamilyLife Today listeners. As Mary Ann and I were traveling, we were in another city. We met some folks who are regular listeners to FamilyLife Today. I love getting a chance to connect with folks who are regular listeners—and folks who have a passion, like we have, to see marriages and families standing strong.
We live in a culture today where standing firm, as a family, is getting tougher. Standing for biblical convictions will bring ridicule or scorn, or perhaps even persecution. Here, at FamilyLife Today, we want to do everything we can to equip you and your family to stand for Christ, even when it’s tough to do so. That’s our mission—to see every home be a godly home.
The month of December is a pretty key month for ministries like ours. In our case, about 30 percent of the donation revenue we receive during the year comes during the month of December. So, when 2014 rolls around, we have a pretty good idea of whether we are able to move forward with strategic plans for the ministry or whether we have to put those on hold for lack of funding.
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Let me just say how much we appreciate your support of this ministry. Hope you’ll pray for us—pray for God to provide for our needs during the month of December—and we look forward to hearing from you.
And we hope you can join us back again tomorrow. We’re going to hear about Jesus as the King of kings as we’ll hear a message from Dennis Rainey on that subject. I hope you can tune in.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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