If you are like most families, the Christmas season brings a certain anticipation of one, two or even twelve days filled with family traditions. From Christmas trees shopping adventures to decorating your house with mistletoes, candles and candy canes, baking delicious desserts and splashing the Christmas colors and twinkle lights everywhere from the family room to the front yard — in other words, the Christmas you have always imagined.
For our children, this Christmas is still being written upon their future memories. So, how can we as parents make Christmas more about the reason and less about the season? Instead of showering our kids with all kinds of stuff, which no doubt will be collecting dust before January 31, let’s try making this Christmas memorable by packaging God’s love and precious truths they will remember, beginning a new family tradition and thus ending with an unforgettable Christmas present to last a lifetime.
Here are 12 tips to make Christmas meaningful for your kids:
- Make each Sunday leading up to Christmas special by lighting a candle and serving a yummy homemade dessert. Have an elder family member [grandfather/grandmother/uncle/aunt] take a turn reading passages from Scripture to the all the kids in your family.
- Help your kids focus on others this Christmas by placing the Christmas cards received in the mail in a basket on the dinner table. Take turns each night drawing one out. Then pray together for that person or family.
- Pick out a new Christmas picture book to read each Christmas Eve. Some favorites are The Stable Where Jesus was Born, by Rhonda Gowler Greene; The Christmas Rose, by William H. Hooks; The Crippled Lamb, by Max Lucado; or The Christmas Shoes, by Donna VanLiere.
- Find a day to go Christmas tree shopping as a family. Take the time to choose two trees: one for your family and one for another family. Ask your kids to select the family they want to bless and together deliver the tree to them. Decorate the tree with the family and afterward take a photo of them around their Christmas tree, then take another one of the two families together. When you bring your tree home, decorate the tree together as a family. When you’re finished, take a family photo around your Christmas tree and use that photo to create this year’s Christmas card, and send it to family and friends.
- Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. And yet, so many families are apart, perhaps even divided by family feuds or unresolved disagreements. Help your kids understand the joy of Jesus and the reason why he came to be with us, by showing kindness and forgiveness to someone you care about.
- Christmas is a time of giving and sharing with your family. So, don’t forget to pass on some of your family’s heritage to your kids by incorporating some of those Christmas traditions with yours.
- Have everyone in your family open only one gift on Christmas Eve. Take a photo with the person who gave you that gift.
- Put the Christmas “To do List” away and spend quality time doing what your kids like to do.
- Volunteer a day at a homeless shelter or nursing home as a family. Share your love, time and family stories with them.
- Give a day off to a house parent at a foster organization such as 4Kids of South Florida. Let them feel your love and support by giving them a day of rest and a time with each other.
- Bake cookies for police officers or firemen in your area. Pick a day to go to a station and bring them a tray of sweet joy, expressing your appreciation for risking their lives for us every day.
- On Christmas Day, after you unwind from all the Christmas holiday preparations, and before you begin another day of festivities, gather around your favorite spot to give thanks to the Lord for His Son, Emmanuel, God with us.
What’s Your Family Tradition?
Here’s what some students from The King’s Academy in West Palm Beach, Florida, had to say…
“During Christmas, we have some traditions that originate from Trinidad and Tobago, where my parents are from. Every year, we bake fruit cake and sorrel, which is a drink made from sorrel leaves, bay leaf and sugar. We listen to traditional Trinidadian Christmas music, called parangs, which is a Spanish influenced style of music. One of my uncles in Trinidad actually has a parang band. My mom and I also bake Christmas cookies and we give them to our neighbors, friends and family,” said Victoria Kalloo, a 12th grade student at The King’s Academy.
Makayla Parris, 9th grade student at The King’s Academy, shared, “On Christmas Eve, my family and I always go to a late night church service, then we go home and bake cookies. Then my mom, step-dad, brother and I sit in the great room and reminisce about all the memories we’ve shared over the past year. After that, my brother and I get into our sleeping bags and place them in our living room and read The Night Before Christmas. After that my mom tucks us into bed—the only time a year! “
Patricia Monroe, 9th grade student at The King’s Academy, said, “At midnight on Christmas Eve, my family and I go to church. When we come back home at one in the morning, we bake cookies and sit around the family room watching Christmas movies until we fall asleep.”
Another 9th grade student at The Kings Academy, Kiana Santiago said, “With my Honduran family, we like to celebrate Christmas Eve at a relative’s house, where we talk, eat, and dance until midnight. Then, we open presents. In my Puerto Rican side of the family who lives in Ocala, we celebrate Christmas Eve with a big Spanish dinner [white rice, beans, pork, etc] and dance all night. The next day, we watch the Macy’s Christmas Day Parade on TV while we open presents. After that, we get on golf carts to look at all the neighbors Christmas lights.”
Maritza Cosano is a freelance writer/editor, writing teacher and author of young adult books. She offers editorial and publishing services for writers and can be reached at [email protected]