It began on Christmas Eve, over 20 years ago, in the corner of my MTC bedroom. Someone suggested that I take a few minutes all alone that night to write a letter to Christ. They didn’t specify what that letter should include. And I wasn’t sure how it would go. But I decided to give it a try.
I sat down to write my letter, and as I began forming my thoughts, I found my heart turning to Christ in a very sincere and powerful way. I expressed my deepest feelings for Him. I thanked him for the many ways He had blessed me. I reminisced about the past year, and expressed some of my most personal and tender thoughts and experiences. I thought of a gift that I could give to Him the coming year, and I committed myself to it. Even though He wouldn’t really be “receiving” my letter, I knew that He knew my heart, and I felt closer to Him than ever before.
In our church, we’ve been taught to pray to the Father in Christ’s name. We thank Heavenly Father often for the gift of His Beloved Son. But we don’t often thank Christ, personally, for what He has done for us. Writing a letter to Christ gave me that chance. My relationship with Him felt more real and meaningful. Every year since then, my Christmas hasn’t felt complete until I’ve written a letter to Jesus.
As a family, we gather around the kitchen table on Christmas Eve with lighted candles and reverent Christmas songs playing in the background. We have prayer, share a scripture, and then we each write our letter to Jesus. We never read our letters out loud; it’s a personal thing. We fold them and place them in our stocking for Jesus. As the years have passed, we have a growing collection of letters to look back on.
Every year since then, my Christmas hasn’t felt complete until I’ve written a letter to Jesus.
I have to admit… I usually peek with curiosity to see what our children have written, and I’m always amazed at the sweet, sincere words I find. It’s given me a glance into their hearts and I’ve been filled with more love for them. In fact, reading their letters has softened my heart as a parent as I’ve been reminded that they each have a very personal relationship with Him. They are His. I just need to love them more and teach them about Christ, and He will be the one to save them.
…reading their letters has softened my heart as a parent as I’ve been reminded that they each have a very personal relationship with Him. They are His. I just need to love them more, and teach them about Christ, and He will be the one to save them.
As parents, one of our greatest hopes at Christmastime is that our children will remember that Christ is the “reason for the season.” We hope they will find and worship HIM, just like the shepherds and wise men did.
What traditions help your family come closer to Christ during Christmas? Have you found a way to pause from the hustle and bustle to think of the gifts Christ has given YOU? Or what gift you could offer HIM?
When our children look back on their childhood, they most likely won’t remember a lot of the day-to-day; instead, they’ll remember the repeated, the special, the out-of-the-ordinary. They’ll appreciate the traditions and rituals we intentionally create and maintain.
If you’re up for doing something new this year, try writing a letter to Jesus! Introducing new traditions and following up with old ones can take some effort. But family traditions are so important because they enrich our time together, shape our family culture, pass on values and beliefs, and create a sense of unity and belonging.
Jen Yorgason Thatcher is an adjunct faculty member in the BYU Religion Department and School of Family Life. She has taught “Strengthening Marriage and Family” and “Preparation For Marriage” and currently teaches “The Eternal Family”. She has developed a deep love for the family proclamation and the research and prophetic teachings that support it. She received her BS and MS in Marriage, Family Human Development from BYU. She has published several scholarly articles on religion and families and blogged about parenting and motherhood. As a life-long teacher, she has taught in Seminary & Institute, EFY, at the MTC, as a missionary in Poland, violin lessons, and most importantly, in her home. She and her husband, Paul, live in Utah with their five children.