Do you feel like Christmas has gotten out of control? I do. I love Jesus, but there are certain things about this time of year that I absolutely hate. I hate driving and especially, parking, at Christmastime. You know what I mean. It?s almost like the mean gene comes out to play as I am cut off, yelled at, honked at, and occasionally, worse. I have taken to avoiding driving around altogether. Instead, online shopping is my friend. But, my heart hurts when I think about all the emphasis on getting gifts. I have often entertained the thought of not buying gifts for relatives and instead buying a share of a cow, or a set of school supplies, or a week of aftercare for a trafficking victim in that relative?s name. Sadly, I don?t do it because I don?t think that my extended family would appreciate it very much.
For my own family of six, we have tried to preserve the real meaning of Christmas, that is that Christ became a vulnerable human being so that he could save us from ourselves.
Suggestions for reclaiming Christmas for Christ:
- Make cookies for your neighbors and distribute them with a special Christmas Scripture.
- Make a commitment to do a service project every Christmas. This could be caroling at a nursing home, putting together an Operation Christmas Child shoe box, choosing names from AngelTree, volunteering at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen, another idea. Choosing and buying gifts for children in need can help kids be more compassionate and other-focused.
- Agree as a family not to exchange gifts and donate the money you would?ve spent. (Even if relatives wouldn?t agree, you and your children could.)
- Instead of buying gifts, use your creativity and make gifts for each other. These can be food,candles, soaps, fabric gifts, wood projects, or even ornaments. Better yet, offer gifts of service or experiences together.
- Introduce a grab bag Christmas. If you have a large extended family, maybe all the adults put their names in one hat and all the kids put their names in a different hat. All the adults choose one name from each hat.
- Decide as a family that you will buy only one gift for each person, even your own kids, and that you will buy gifts for a limited number of people. For example, in some families it is agreed that only the children will receive gifts.
Dig Deep into the Real Story
- Visit a live nativity.
- Celebrate Advent. Advent is a time of preparing our hearts for the arrival of Jesus. One way to celebrate is through lighting the four candles: hope, love, joy, and peace. There is also a Christ candle lit on Christmas Eve. You could read a Bible passage related to each of these virtues that Christ brings.
- Imitate St. Nicholas. He was a real person who loved Jesus and gave anonymous gifts to help people, especially the poor. Be a ?secret Santa? and put money in parking meters, shovel a neighbor?s driveway and sidewalk, or other kind deed.
- Read through the Christmas story. This may seem obvious, but there are many aspects of the holiday that are not in scripture but are in nativity scenes. For example, the scripture doesn?t say how many wise men there were and the wise men didn?t arrive until Jesus was about a year old.
See if your family can spot other discrepancies.