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.
Here are some ideas, activities, and projects that are designed to knit the family together throughout the Christmas season. They 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. 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 gatherings, 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.
3. Hold a Yule log party. An old European custom is to bring in an enormous log on Christmas Eve. The master of the house places it on the hearth and says 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. As a family, bake, make, or buy a special gift for your pastor and his family.
7. Keep a Christmas journal expressing your thoughts about what happens throughout the season with your family and friends. Include your reaction to the news, sermons, Christmas programs, parties, and gifts, as well as your meditations about Jesus.
8. 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 money into the stocking. Close to Christmas, the gifts and money are wrapped and presented to the intended recipient(s). Consider doing this anonymously.
9. Dedicate the occasion to Jesus.Before opening presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, read Scripture aloud together.
10. 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 traditions.
Excerpted from 101 Ways to Have a Christian Christmas by Brenda Verner. Published by Tyndale House. Copyright © 2006 by Brenda J. Verner. Used with permission.