Ten Ways To Make Your Christmas More Memorable
"There are people who will tell you that Christmas is not what it used to be." That sentiment sounds familiar to me as I am sure it does to you. Yet, these words were written in England in l836, by Charles Dickens.
Mr. Dickens’ statement comes as a surprise to those of us who have always considered the era of the l800’s as the ideal “good old days” for Christmas celebrations. The traditional Christmas celebration of the l800's was the kind that Scrooge disdained in “A Christmas Carol”.
Evidently, Christmas during any given year will only be as meaningful as we are willing for it to be. There is no good in lamenting, for example, that carolers no longer tour the neighborhood as they used to. (Of course we could all gather our friends, our songbooks and candles, and sing up and down the streets that “Christ the Savior is born.”) We have all, at times, complained about the commercialization of Christmas. But it is up to each of us personally to put Christ at the center of our celebration, in our thoughts, our homes, and in the life we live the rest of the year in honor of the one who was born in a manger, lived a sinless life, died in order for us to live, rose from the dead and ascended to the right hand of the Father where we have been lifted up with Him in order to rule and reign in life.
Pastor Sandra and I have been considering how we might enrich your Christmas this year. After much thought here are 10 simple ideas, intended merely as suggestions or possibilities, for each one of us to consider this Christmas season. As followers of Christ the King what can we do to make this season a more meaningful celebration in our life?
1. Shop early so you can be free to enjoy the season. The greatest enemy of our enjoying and appreciating the Christmas season is the frenzied pace in which we find ourselves as we tend to do everything at the last minute. Make sure we leave plenty of time and energy for celebrating ‘Jesus’.
2. Plan your month in advance. Sit down with your family and create a special “Month’s Calendar” for December. Include dates for decorating, cooking, visiting, parties, and other special events for the month. Don’t forget to add Sunday church meetings and Wednesday evenings as a priority. Often in the busyness of the season we are tempted to use these times to get other things done! (Christmas is an opportune time of the year to reach out and invite friends and family members to worship with us.)
3. Remember, Christmas is not just a “day”, but a season. The church calendar has recognized this for centuries in the tradition of Advent. It is a season when believers anticipate the celebration of Christ’s coming to earth. This is a good year to start the tradition of using an Advent wreath or calendar. These can be easily made or purchased as weekly and even daily reminders that God sent His Son to be the light of the world. (If you are not familiar with the significance of these, go online, read, and appreciate the significance of the “Advent Wreath.") Beginning 4 weeks before Christmas, light one candle at dinnertime every night for the first week; two candles throughout the second week; three during the third; and all four the week of Christmas.
4. Decorate for Christmas as a family. Whatever you decide to do in your home or with a tree, include all family members from the youngest to the oldest. (Even toddlers can put Christmas ornaments on a tree.) Often husbands leave this to the wife, or the mother doesn’t want to be bothered with the kids helping. This is a great family bonding activity. Put on Christmas music, have special refreshments, be sure and set aside plenty of time so it is a “party” like atmosphere and appreciate all the efforts of the helpers (even if it is not done as perfectly as you would do yourself!).
If single, invite special friends over to help (make sure you make it fun!).
5. Make your Christmas tree a family history book. As the season approaches, look back over the past twelve months together as a family and think of a significant event that you would like to remember in the years to come. For example you may have had a move, new addition to the family, an adopted puppy, a spiritual encounter, etc.. Then go shopping and look for an ornament that will symbolize the event or perhaps even the whole year. Be sure to print the year on the ornament so that in years to come you or your children can look back and remember.
6. Go caroling in your neighborhood. Door to door caroling is an ancient Christmas tradition. This is a tradition that would be good to keep. Gather some friends or a few families (it does not matter if you can carry a tune or not). The point is for it to be a joyful event, not a professional one. Caroling books are great, but you can make your own song sheets, or just sing the first verse of the carols you know. You will be surprised by the people you will bless.
7. Set aside a day (perhaps a Sunday afternoon) when your family will gather in the kitchen and bake, make candy, or even put together a gingerbread house. Even dad can get creative cutting out cookies or being the architect of the gingerbread house. Christmas is a great time for everyone to enjoy the kitchen, helping to bake holiday treats for entertaining and preparing gifts of food.
8. Have a Christmas family portrait made. Ask a friend to come to your home with a camera and make a group portrait of your family in front of the Christmas tree or some other holiday decoration. Place the portrait in a special photo album to make and keep a record of your family’s growth each year. The book will become a history of your home and lives which can be displayed each Christmas to provide a rich source of memories. You can even offer to be the photographer for another family’s portrait and make the picture a Christmas gift for them.
9. Let Christmas Day be a Sabbath. The entire family (not just mom) can help prepare your meal and do the clean up afterward. Remember that having a peaceful restful day will mean much more to the family than an elaborate meal served on fine china.
10. Make someone who is alone part of your family’s Christmas. Christmas can be the saddest, loneliest, and most depressing time of the year for those who live alone, are separated by miles from their family or have no one to share the holiday with. Consider including the elderly, a shut in, or someone otherwise isolated. There is no greater time to show God’s hospitality to others. This hospitality to a degree will mirror God’s love and hospitality shown to us as He sent His only Son into the world that we may know Him. The joy of Jesus’ birth is ours to share. If we ask God for specific ways to give it away to others, He will be faithful to answer our prayer.
Pastor Sandra and I hope that these suggestions will enrich your celebration of God's most precious Gift of all, the Gift of His Son, Christ Jesus our Lord.