As we go through November, I am always thinking of ways to make the upcoming holidays - both Thanksgiving and Christmas - more meaningful for our family. Now whether or not that always comes to fruition is another story! My main goal is to focus more on Christ - as He is why we celebrate Christmas. My secondary goal is to do things as a family. In the busyness of the Christmas season, it is easy to get caught up in the activities and parties. All of that will fade, but the memories we make with our families will last forever!
I wanted to take a few minutes and encourage you to find something that works for your family. It could be something you do once, or something that is repeated every year. Some may work when you have younger kids, and you may have to change the activity when they get older. Maybe you need to start a new tradition with your grandkids! Maybe you need to "adopt" some kids whose grandparents live far away! Here are a few ideas to get you started - or maybe you have some great things you love to do with your family that you could share with us!
Advent activity or Jesse Tree: Both of these are great ideas to focus on Christ throughout December. The Advent wreath/candles would probably be better for older kids, while the Jesse Tree could be a great one for younger kids. Don't stress out if it does not go just as you planned. Doing something like this over and over really does pay off in the long run! There are also some great books and ornament activities that are just as good - we have a ornament for all the names of Christ and an explination for each. This doesn't get done every year, but it is something worth doing!
Christmas programs: Find out when different churches are presenting their Christmas programs and pick a few to go to as a family. There are so many GREAT presentations out there, this is a great family outing. When it is over, go out for hot chocolate and talk about your favorite part!
Christmas Eve: Make plans now to attend a Christmas Eve service. I have found this ALWAYS sets the mood and puts our focus back on Jesus!
Birthday Cake for Jesus: Make a birthday cake/cupcake/cookie for Jesus. This is something that should be done before ANY presents are opened and, again, brings our focus back to the reason we celebrate.
Christmas cookies: Make and decorate Christmas cookies with your kids/grandkids. Then share them with your neighbors or take them to an assisted living center/fire station/ police station.
Angel Tree: Adopt a child from the Angel Tree and take your kids/grandkids shopping for that child. It certainly is a great teachable moment for your kids and a way for them to give to others.
Now for some ideas that are just for fun!
Camping by the Christmas tree: After you have finished decorating the tree, let the kids sleep by the tree for a night. They will think this is the best thing EVER! I have to admit, I have never introduced this one at our house, but know several people that make this a daddy/kid event. :)
Christmas lights: I don't know anyone that does not like looking at Christmas lights! Find out in advance some neighborhoods that have great Christmas lights. Get your kiddos ready for bed. Have them go get in the car!! You might want to have some fun snacks to take in the car. Then spend an hour riding around looking at Christmas lights and listening/singing to Christmas music. We have done this a couple of times and our kids think it is great!
Christmas PJs: One of the gifts our kiddos get every year is new pajamas. They have always been matching PJs - although I am not so sure that is still going to "fly" with a 10 and 13 year old! They get to open these on Christmas Eve and wear them to bed. They don't have to be Christmas themed - it is just fun to get new pajamas.
Ornaments: We also get our kiddos an ornament to commemorate the year. I try to make sure their name and the year is on the ornament somewhere. These will be the ones I give to them when they are out on their own.
As I said before, you have to find what works for your family. I hope these have given you some new ideas, or inspired you to come up with some new ones of your own (we would LOVE to hear from you). Treasure this time with your kids and/or grandkids!
And don't lose focus of why we celebrate. Our God gave US the greatest gift ever when He sent His precious child to earth to be our Saviour. Jesus was born in the shadow of the cross - for He came to earth as a baby so He could die in our place. We can spend eternity with God because of His sacrifice. If you would like more information about this, I urge your to call your local church or FBC McKinney (972-542-0041). There will be someone there that would love to talk to you.