Traditions that matter:
- Participate in a daily Family Advent Devotional. Doing this one simple thing slowly unwraps Christmas one day at a time and gives you and your family the chance to reflect and prepare your heart for Christmas day.
- Place your nativity front and center of your decorations. Doing this one simple thing is a bold reminder of the reason for the season.
- Purchase a second nativity the kids can touch and play with. My boys were gifted the Little People Christmas Story Nativity with Lights and Sounds and they have been telling the story in their own way since before they could even talk. We usually place it under the Christmas tree so they can easily access it.
- Introduce the nativity characters as the story unfolds. An example, you start the 3 Wise Men in another room and each day you or a child move them closer to the manger. Another idea is to wait to place the baby Jesus until Christmas morning.
- Write and say, ‘Merry Christmas’ vs. ‘Merry X-mas’. Who is getting the ‘X’ when shorthand is used? Christ! Don’t short Jesus of his birthday!
- Choose a Christmas card instead of a Holiday card. Find one that states the reason for the season. Better yet, choose one that honors Christ’s birth with scripture on it too. They are hard to find these days.
- Deck the tree with Christian Christmas ornaments. There is nothing better than gazing at that grand fir. Everyone who comes over always stops to look because each one is unique and different in every home. Let the ornaments tell the story.
- Play Christian Christmas music on the radio. Usually the local Christian radio station does a good job of blending the classics with the carols.
- Visit your city’s nativity scene. Carol Christian Christmas music while there! Bring sheet music so others can join in. We experienced this first hand one year as someone else broke out in chorus and it was a magical, unforgettable moment for everyone there.
- Attend and support local church Christmas musicals and plays. Not just your own church’s. Our church does a play. Another local church does Christmas bells and chorus. It’s wonderful to experience both!
- Unwrap The Story of Christmas with a Christian children Advent calendar. Children love the reveal. It’s so fun!
- Put Santa in his place. For some of you, he may not even have a place in your home. If you are not sure where to put him, figuratively speaking, the book God Gave Us Christmas does a fine job for you. So does this ornament of Santa Claus Praying Over Baby Jesus.
- Consider the ‘3 Gift Rule’. Wild and crazy idea, right? Not really. If 3 gifts were sufficient for Jesus then they should be sufficient for our little ones. Consider the Wise Men who gave gold, Frankincense and myrrh.
- ‘Gold’ present – something a child would want and treasure, like a toy.
- ‘Frankincense’ present – a gift that will be used in worship or spiritual life, like a Bible or devotional.
- ‘Myrhh’ present – something for the body, like clothes or shoes.
- Let the children experience the actual gifts given to baby Jesus. Frankincense and Myrhh are both essential oils which contain many valuable healing and spiritual properties. Young Living essential oil has both of these available for purchase. I can’t wait to see my children experience the gifts – literally!
- Volunteer your time. Jesus came to serve. Consider serving your time at a local food pantry of Christian mission to aid the poor and homeless.
- Adopt a family. Experience the gift of giving! Learn how giving truly is more satisfying than receiving. Each year my husband and I adopt a family and provide a family meal and several requested gifts through Love, INC. a Christian organization. We also have the opportunity to deliver these gifts to them and pray with them. It is the highlight of my family’s Christmas experience. I would love for it to be yours too! Contact your local church for how you can help a family in need.
- Forego the traditional gift-giving. Instead of purchasing a gift that will bring fleeting pleasure for the person who has so much already, consider donating a gift in their name/honor. My in-laws started this several years ago. They requested that whatever we were going to have spent on them that instead we donate money to a local, national or international Christian organization on their behalf as their ‘gift’. Such organizations are Habitat for Humanity and Heifer International. I’m welling as I write this because we have ‘gifted’ so many people in need since they started requesting us to do this. It was a selfless act on their part – love it!
- Donate one of your gifts YOU received. So hard to do. Don’t just have your kids do it, YOU do it too! The poor and needy deserve new, nice things too. Not just our leftovers and has-been.
- Read Scripture and pray BEFORE opening gifts. Let us not forget who the day is really for. Read the Christmas story from the books of Matthew or Luke in your Bible.
- Make a cake for Jesus! Why not? It is His birthday after all. Let it really hit home and celebrate just like you would one of your family members birthdays.
- Attend Christmas Eve or Christmas Day church service. Invite someone to join you and your family for Christmas dinner. The widow or widower, the single mom or dad, the foreigner from another country or the person who has no family nearby. I am blessed to have had a family that always did this and married into a family that also does this. Always a stranger around the table. Nothing like making new friends in the name of Jesus.
- Host a neighborhood Christmas party! Be the light on a hill. Last year, we started a new tradition. We host an outdoor neighborhood Christmas party. I play a Christmas movie on the garage door and the kids sit on hay bales to watch. We have a bonfire where we carol and mingle. I bring in two propane heaters and two Canopies with Sidewalls to keep heat in. We serve popcorn, cookies and hot cocoa. It is a hoot and I cannot wait to do it again. I’ve got people already anticipating the event. And the grand finale is gathering everyone together around the fire as we sing “Silent Night” and send up a paper Sky Lantern. I print off copies of lyrics for each song sung. Jesus is honored and the muslims, hindis and non-believers in attendance are even warmed by the experience.
- Have an Advent Wreath. Bring the church experience home. The two should offer the same experience of worship anyways, shouldn’t they? Great way to start that new year’s resolution if ‘leading your family spiritually’ happens to be on your resolution list.
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Let Jesus be your reason everyday. Thank you for supporting #ASafePlaceForGirls in Martin County, FL.
Merry Christmas from The Willow House.