Thursday, December 11, 2008

How to keep "Christ" in Christmas:

Don’t forget to keep Christ in your Christmas this year. Here are some suggestions:

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. As a family, choose some charitable activities you can do together, such as volunteering at a homeless shelter or helping with a toy drive.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. Do your family Christmas shopping at your favorite Christian bookstore and/or Christian Web sites.
10. 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.

Excerpted from 101 Ways to have a Christian Christmas by Brenda Verner. Copyright © 2006 by Brenda Verner. This is an excellent book. I highly recommend it.
Here are a few more suggestions:
In France, it is common to have a small nativity set on display in the home. Each night, the wise men grow closer to the stable where Joseph and Mary await the birth. Then on Christmas Eve, baby Jesus is placed into the manger.
Find children's books that tell the nativity story in various ways. Read one each night before bedtime. Make it a tradition to read the Biblical version on Christmas Eve.
Separate the holiday: Make Christmas Eve about Christ and Christmas morning about Santa. Sing songs like “Silent Night” and “Away in the Manger” on Christmas Eve – or have Handel’s Messiah playing as your background music. Sing “Jingle Bells” and “Frosty the Snowman” on Christmas Day - and play a CD of secular Christmas favorites.

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