Wednesday, 17 December 2014

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CHRIST-Centered Christmas Traditions


We have adopted many cozy Danish Christmas traditions, but I feel that I haven't quite succeeded in incorporating the celebration of the true meaning of Christmas. here are some wonderful ideas for Christmas traditions to keep us focused and rooted to the true meaning of Christmas. The ones I particularly like are bolded:

1. Advent Calendar: Create an Advent calendar with 24 days of Christmas, and on each day leading up to Christmas, do different things e.g. serve at a homeless shelter, collect coats for needy kids, deliver cookies to senior homes, tell someone "God loves you", give stuffed toys to the children at the burn unit, make Christmas wreaths for the elderly homes, bake cookies for the neighbours, etc.

2. Nativity Scene: Set up a Nativity scene without Baby Jesus in the crib. Whenever you catch your child doing something nice or doing a chore without being asked, put a colored cotton ball on top of the crib. Whenever he creates trouble, make him take out one colored cotton balls. On the day of Christmas Eve, count how many colored cotton balls remain before placing Baby Jesus on the crib to complete the nativity scene. Your child gets to exchange the cotton balls for Christmas cookies to be shared with his friends.

3. Christmas Tree: Our only significant Christmas tradition is Advent NativiTree. A set of 24 Nativity-themed ornaments that go in a special Advent Calendar. Each night the boys pull the ornament out of the calendar, hang it on a mini tree and then read the scripture that tells that part of the Christmas story. Sometimes it only takes two minutes, sometimes we add the reading of a Christmas story book that complements the scripture from that day. We started the tradition when the boys were 2 and 4 as a means to keep from focusing on presents and parties. We’re into our sixth year and it’s a tradition we all love still. I love that in the last moments of their day, we’re all reminded of what Christmas is really about.

4. Christmas has a large focus on food. Why not during the week before Christmas, give up a meal and pray during that time for the poor, hungry and spiritually lost in the world.

5. Watch a movie that remembers the life of Christ.

6. Let your children shop for kids in their age group (3-5 gifts each) and give to the children at the children's home.

7. Fill a shoebox with gifts for a less-privileged child, wrap it up and give it to Samaritian Purse or a children's home. Add a Christian Christmas message into each box too :-)

8. Find someone to secretly love on with a blessing (a kind note, money, food, yard work, or whatever you can give that year.)

9. Write a letter to grandparents telling them you love them and what you want to do in the next year.

10. Begins on thanksgiving evening with house lighting and step out on the front yard to watch together.

11. Decorate the Christmas tree with every ornament that points to Jesus such as shepherd's staff, star, manger, etc. and explain how each item reminds us of Christ:

The lights - Jesus, the Light of the world
The tree - the Cross
The gifts - God's gift to us

12. Gift a new ornament to each child and let them keep in their own storage tub, to be theirs, to be passed down into their households/marriages.

13. Lit the tree in remembrance of Jesus being the light of this world.

14. Have a birthday cake for Jesus to celebrate His birthday. Explain that we get presents because Jesus lives inside of us, and we give presents to others because we want to share the love of Christ with all.

15. Attend a church service together on Christmas eve.

16. On Christmas' Eve's morning, get up early to fix pancakes, ham and cheese omelets, hot chocolate and freshly squeezed apple/orange juice for breakfast. Then read from the story of Luke and Isaiah.

17. Don't have to wait until Christmas Eve to open presents. Give your presents earlier so that the children can concentrate fully on the Christmas story from the Bible and Jesus' birthday. (Do the same for Easter - give the children their basket of Easter eggs on Saturday so that you can enjoy Easter Sunday to celebrate the Resurrection of our Saviour Jesus Christ.)

18. Limit the number of presents. Give each child only 3 presents (something of need, something of want, and something of spiritual growth), because that is the number of presents that Baby Jesus got from the wise men.

19. Don't put all the gifts under the tree. Hide one of them, and instead an envelope with a clue as to where to find another clue will be found. Give 3 clues with the third clue leading to the wrapped present.

20. Wrap Baby Jesus as one of the gifts under the Christmas tree. Whoever got it will say, "I've got Jesus," and everyone will say, "Amen."

21. Tell why we give gifts too - because God gave to us and we want to love others. Explain that Jesus was the reason for Christmas. Because God sent His Son as a gift to us, we could also share gifts with others.

22. Let one of the gifts be a new PJ that they will go to sleep on Christmas eve :-)

23. On Christmas Eve or Christmas Morning:

Have the nativity scene nearby. Turn on Christmas carols. Lit the Christmas tree in remembrance of Jesus being the light of this world. Gather around the tree, talk about Jesus and the real meaning of Christmas. Read a Christmas story book with pictures and let your child "read it". Sing carols 'Away in a Manger' and read from the Bible the nativity story from the gospel of Luke and Isaiah. If your kids can read, have them read some of the verses too. Then have "family communion." Then pray for time together and a special blessing on each person.

Open present one at a time so that everyone can see what everyone got and we can all thank each other. It is much more meaningful than everyone ripping open gifts at once.

Share stories about how God has worked in your life (that year). While the family is together during the holidays, use the time to share your personal stories about faith, redemption and life change. Also, reflect on the previous year and talk about how you have grown in your faith individually and as a family.

24. We have a dinner together followed by the lighting of the Christ candle on our nativity wreath, and then Daddy reads the Scripture account of Jesus' birth. After that we have a birthday cake for Jesus. The cake is chocolate, representing sin. It's filled with cherry pie filling, representing the blood of Jesus, and it's covered with white frosting which represents our new life in Christ.

25. Before opening presents, read the account of Christ's birth from Luke and the verses in Isaiah. Then pray for time together and a special blessing on each one present.

26. Read the birth of Christ from Luke and Isaiah at bed time, if you didn't manage to do so during the Christmas party.

27. Each Christmas, give up your beds and sleep on the floor together to remember what they have endured, as Mary, Joseph and Jesus did that first Christmas.

References:

http://www.familylife.com/articles/topics/holidays/featured/christmas/10-great-ideas-for-christmas-traditions#.VJIn8cstCmc
http://www.keeperofthehome.org/2010/12/family-traditions-that-keep-christ-at-the-center-of-christmas.html
http://www.circleofmoms.com/christian-mommies/what-are-your-christmas-traditions-434536
http://www.circleofmoms.com/christian-mommies/family-godly-traditions-376661

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