As we approach what truly is the most wonderful family time of the year, parents can find easy ways to capitalize with a simple plan and a few preparations. The following is a week-by-week suggested plan that's simple enough for even the busiest family to follow:
Days 1-7 (November 23-29): Remember Together! Spend time together looking back at special ways the Lord has blessed your family over the past year. Write down specific items for which your family is thankful. It would be a great time to send some notes of gratitude to a few special people! A special activity could precede or include the Thanksgiving meal. And speaking of meals...
Days 8-14 (November 30-December 6): Eat Together! Plan at least two meals this week in which the whole family will come together and enjoy one another. There's nothing like gathering around the table for building relationships at home.
Days15-21 (December 7-13): Play Together! Find something fun to do that the whole family can take part in. Depending on climate and locale, this could include any number of low-budget activities. The goal is simply enjoyment and enjoying one another. Perhaps you could select one of the many holiday events available this time of year.
Days 22-28 (December 14-20): Work Together! Service can be just as much fun as leisure. As your family nears the Christmas celebration, this is a great time to find a service project in your area. It might be as simple as delivering small gifts or cookies to homebound individuals or a nursing home, or serving at a soup kitchen. It could also include gathering old clothes and household items and delivering them to a local charity. A number of programs supply toys to underprivileged children. These ministries often are very grateful for some holiday volunteers!
Days 29-35 (December 21-27): Pray Together! This week, as you celebrate the birth of Christ, enjoy some moments of prayer together as a family. This is a wonderful time to develop an ongoing habit of prayer: perhaps developing a family prayer journal and gathering once a week for a special prayer time.
Days 36-40 (December 28-January 2): Dream Together! As your family wraps up another year and looks toward the challenges and excitement of 2004, take some time to set goals for the months ahead. What do you want to accomplish as a family? What habits did you develop during these holidays that can be carried into the New Year?
Forty days was a very significant period of time throughout the Bible. God did great works among His people during these special windows of time. From the 40-day flood experience of Noah, to Moses on Mount Sinai, to Jesus in the desert, we see forty days is a stretch of time that is long enough to make an impact but short enough that we can move forward with the end in clear sight.
As it happens, the most significant window of opportunity of the year for families is exactly forty days! During this holiday season, you can make a lasting impact on your family by building traditions, cultivating relationships, and celebrating what it means to be a family. The habits you build will not only make for a better Christmas season, but also have the real potential to jump-start your home for the coming year.
Ryan Rush is a former Family Pastor of the Historic Thomas Road Baptist Church, Ryan Rush speaks everywhere on simple steps for success at home. Ryan and his wife Lana have two daughters - Ryley Anne and Reagan. The live just outside of Austin, Texas.