Slideshow image

Every holiday season, we would start preparations early for our big festive meal.  Visions of sugar plums danced in our heads.  Well, actually, it was more like pumpkin pies and mashed potatoes with gravy and stuffing.  However, one of our family hated all normal foods and begged us relentlessly to have pizza for our dinner.  20 years later, we final relented.  Sometimes, the joy of the season is a thin veneer that lays overtop of a lot of a staleness.  A tradition that excites one may very well exasperate another.  Christmas comes every single year without fail and lasts for weeks, so it may well need some intentional work to keep it fresh and vibrant.

Here’s 5 ideas to help keep Christmas fresh in your family.

1. Do something to get the focus off self.  

     Your kids are likely building their list of presents that they really want and the marketing machinery is in peak operation to elevate the deepest desires of your heart.  Christmas gets stale when it becomes too much about our self and even our family.  Make a project to go help people.  Buy a gift for a sponsor child.  Get together with other people.  Invite people into your home (doesn’t have to be the Christmas meal but perhaps another opportunity nearby).  Whatever you do, make sure it is something that gets you oriented to be thinking about others.

2. Replace a tradition

     Traditions are extremely helpful to reduce stress because they take all the thinking and planning out of the equation.  “What should we do this Christmas Eve?” is a no brainer when you have a tradition that dictates it. But mixing it up a bit creates opportunity for newness, and newness breathes life.  So why not do pizza one year?  In our family, each person put the name of a country into a hat and we drew from it for each holiday meal.  Then I was tasked to create a festive meal in the tradition of that country.  You don’t have to get rid of the tradition all together but you might want to switch it up for one year.

3. Put the kids in charge!

     Not of the whole season of course, but is there an area that they could be given some latitude to direct things?  Does the tree have to be your way every year?  Could they come up with ideas for activities?  Could they be given responsibility to plan out some part of the season. IE: Could they come up with a plan for opening the gifts?  Each assignment would have to be tailored to be age appropriate and you do well to have some boundaries or even hold the Veto power but they just might surprise you with some memorable moments.

4. Review and align the values.

     Activities and traditions can easily drift away from the original values from which they were born.  The overused axiom, “Keep Christ in Christmas” is right on point here.  Take time to reflect on how you, as a family, will keep Christ honoured and central to the season.  Talk about church attendance, devotionals, decorations and spiritual disciplines that engage your family's love for Jesus.  Keep the chocolate advent calendar but make it the treat they get after reading from your advent family devotional.

5. Make a Plan!

     The Christmas season is long but it still manages to sneak up on us and be gone and in its place can be a list of regrets and shames for things we wish we would have done and things we wished we hadn’t done.  Most people snicker at the idea of a good spreadsheet but a little time writing out lists and having dialogue can lead to a very memorable season.  Make your own advent calendar (I don’t mean the box with chocolates) and take time to dream up things you can do.  Especially for that week between Christmas day and New Year’s day.   One year our family marked out one day for PJ’s (where we did not leave the house but stayed in our PJ’s all day long), one day for friends (where we planned a full set of activities and invited a bunch of families to hang out together), and one day for skiing.  I think you get the picture.  Be intentional.

However you plan out your Christmas (or let your traditions plan it out for you), be reminded that joy and peace and love come from a fully redeemed relationship with Jesus Christ.  For God so loved you and your family that he sent his son that if you believe in him you will not perish but have eternal life.

Blessings & Merry Christmas,
Pastor Danny