Ways to Keep Your Family Focused on Christ this Christmas
- 2006 1 Dec
Generation after generation of Christmases are strung across the decades of family histories via journals, diaries, drawings, paintings, illustrations, photographs, and videos that stand witness to precious memories. Treasured long-standing traditions become Christmas legacies carefully fostered and presented to each new generation of children, who are taught the role they play in maintaining the family's Christmas traditions. Great unity can result from a family that focuses on celebrating and honoring the birth of Christ.
This chapter gives ideas, activities, and projects that are designed to knit the family together throughout the Christmas season. The nineteen ideas range from simple activities to focused projects that require serious commitment. It might be helpful to have your family review the ideas together and choose the ones that they want to implement.
1. Have family members dress in biblical-type clothing and act out the Holy Night for family and friends (Many young children will love being part of this.) Take photos and use one for next year's Christmas card.
2. Family Christmas season calendar: Make or buy a large wall calendar dating from Thanksgiving through the first week of the New Year. Decorate it with Christmas stickers or your own illustrations. Hang it in a high-traffic area. List all invitations, announcements, concerts, and other events you will attend as a family.
3. As a family, choose some charitable activities you can do together, such as volunteering at a homeless shelter or helping with a toy drive. Note the dates on the family Christmas season calendar and designate them as "everybody must show" dates.
4. Identify an elderly or low-income person or couple who might not have family support during the Christmas season. Invite them to one of your family gathering, offer to take them Christmas shopping, or invite them to attend a Christmas church service with your family. You might also take them food gifts over the course of the festive season.
5. Plan times to bake Christmas goodies for special family dinners, parties, and gifts. Look for cookie cutters that are Nativity related, such as stars, angels, camels, sheep, and Nativity silhouettes.
6. Hold a Yule log party. An old European custom was to bring in an enormous log on Christmas Eve. The master of the house placed it on the hearth and said prayers. Today, Yule log cakes and eggnog are served. You can sing carols, read Scripture, tell stories, pray for the new year, and have good fellowship. Tip: Recipes for nonalcoholic eggnog and Yule log cake can be found on the Internet.
7. Make the purchase of the Christmas tree and Christmas wreaths a family event. Afterward, go out for hot chocolate together.
8. Make family craft keepsakes and heirloom ornaments imprinted with the year they were made and the name of the maker. (Many craft stores sell simple ornament kits). Consider adding a Christ-centered phrase, such as "Christ, Our King, 2006" or "Jesus - the Heart of Christmas." Over the years you will build a family keepsake collection to treasure.
9. Together, research "Christmases past" in America. Survey Christmas during colonial times, the Victorian era, various wartimes (the Civil War, World War I, and World War II), and the Depression. A slide show or a computer presentation will give the family a historical perspective of America's Christian Christmas customs.
10. Family Christmas movie nights: Poll your family for favorite Christmas movies, make a list, and schedule a few dates on your family Christmas season calendar as "family movie nights."
11. As a family, bake, make, or buy a special gift for your pastor and his family.
12. Keep a Christmas journal expressing your thoughts about what happens throughout the season with your family and friends. Include your reactions to the news, sermons, Christmas programs, parties, and gifts, as well as your meditations about Jesus.
13. Hang a large Christmas stocking, intended for a designated needy person or family, in a central location. Beginning at Thanksgiving, family members and friends can deposit small gifts and bills into the stocking. Close to Christmas, the gifts and money are wrapped and presented to the intended recipient(s). Consider doing this anonymously.
14. Invite members of your family, people from church, or neighborhood families to a potluck carol sing. Prepare copies of favorite carols, and set a loose schedule so that you have time to sing all the songs distributed. As an alternative, consider caroling at a hospital, nursing home, or around the neighborhood. Then return to your home for dessert and hot chocolate.
15. Do your family Christmas shopping at your favorite Christian bookstore and/or Christian Web sites.
16. When setting your Christmas dinner table, set a literal place (chair, plate, glass, and silverware) for Jesus as an honored member of your family. Place a golden paper crown on the place setting for Christ.
17. Attend your church's Christmas Eve or Christmas Day service as a family to seal the reverence of the celebration of Christ's birth as a valued family tradition.
18. Before opening presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, read Scripture aloud together. Dedicate the occasion to Jesus.
19. After the New Year, officially close the Christmas season by having the whole family dismantle your decorations. Give thanks, as individuals and as a family, for the gift of Christ and your time together as a family. This ritual will teach your children to treasure carefully preserved family Christmas decorations.
Excerpted from 101 Ways to have a Christian Christmas by Brenda Verner. Copyright © 2006 by Brenda Verner. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.
Brenda J. Verner, EdM Harvard University, is a media analyst who has lectured at America's most prestigious universities. Her longest-standing passion has been to make Christmas focused on Christ. In 1983, Brenda launched a "Happy Birthday Jesus" marketing campaign and adopted the moniker "the Christian Christmas Lady." Verner's dream is to provide believers with inspiring ideas to design and experience their own Christian Christmas, saturating our world with Jesus Christ each December.