Put the Christ Back in Christmas

By Staff Writer

Christmas is truly one of the most wonderful times of the year. It can also be one of the busiest. Sometimes parents (and we're included) can get stressed during the Christmas holidays, which creates tension -- often between family members and relatives. There seems to be so much to do to prepare for the actual day: presents to be bought and wrapped; friends and family to be invited to dinner; preparations to be made to go elsewhere; food to cook; houses to clean.

It's easy to get caught up in all of the hustle and bustle, especially with all the advertising that stirs up so much busy-ness! Sometimes we unintentionally let the "Herod" thought destroy our joy. As a result, we "X" out the "Christ" aspect of Christmas. It's important to stop and remember what Christmas really means -- giving of yourself, loving unconditionally, trusting in God, and putting first things first. What else does Christmas mean to you?

You can take an active role in putting the Christ back into Christmas!

  • Before everything gets hectic, talk with your family about what Christmas really means. You can make it a dinner conversation or a conversation on the way to Church or at lunch after church, or any other time that works for you. Make sure everyone is there. This is more important than shopping for gifts!
    • Ask your parents and your siblings what they like most about Christmas, and share what you like.
    • Ask them what they think is the real meaning of Christmas, and share your ideas.
    • Read and discuss the story of the birth of Jesus so that you can express the real meaning of Christmas:
      • Identify the different qualities expressed by the different characters in the Nativity story -- Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, the wise men, Herod, Jesus, etc.
      • Decide which attitudes will help maintain a sense of peace in your family and which will not. Be specific.
      • Decide how you -- individually and as a family -- are going to express those qualities during this month (and after). For instance: you may think that Joseph expressed courage, or the shepherds expressed humility. So, you can talk about how all of you can be courageous and humble in your everyday life at school, work, and home.
      • Write down the qualities and the corresponding actions; refer to them often; and demonstrate them. Post your list on the refrigerator for everyone to remember. Or turn it into a Christmas decoration -- a wreath, picture, or ornament -- and hang it some prominent place or on the Christmas tree. Or you can keep your notes to yourself, but make sure you refer to them!
      • Notice when your family members are expressing the meaning of Christmas, when they are helpful, loving, etc. Thank them for what they do
    • On Christmas Day, set aside time to talk about the meaning of Christmas:
      • Read the Christmas story. (The story is found in order in two gospels: Luke 1, Matt. 1, Luke 2:1-20, Matt.2:1-23, Luke 2:21-38, Matt. 2:13-23, Luke 2:39-52 which tells of Jesus in the temple at age 12.) You can take turns reading as a family. It's fun to read more through Matt. 3:17.
      • Read other things about Christmas or sing carols.
      • Share what you've learned about Christmas this month.
      • Share your gratitude for the Christ.

You can help your parents feel less stressed!

  • Take the initiative to help make your parents' (or grandparents') "to do" list shorter. See what needs to be done or ask them how you can help, and then help. Here are some ideas:
    • Clean the house really well -- the entire house.
    • Offer to go grocery shopping for them. They may need to give you the list of what to buy.
    • Bring home flowers just because. Flowers have a way of brightening someone's day, and they make the home look inviting.
    • Help them write Christmas cards.
    • Make the dessert or salad or dressing (or something) for Christmas dinner.
    • Set the table, and clean the dishes.
    • There are plenty of other ideas. Just be creative.

You can give meaningful gifts at Christmas!

  • You don't have to have a lot of money to give a meaningful gift, but you do have to express love. So, decide to give a gift from the heart. Here are a few ideas:
    • Write a poem, a really good poem. Paint or create a background for the poem and then frame it. Or, you can find background music for your poem and then read it to them with the music playing or record it.
    • Write a song for someone; sing it to that person or record it; write down the words in a unique way.
    • Capture some favorite memories by putting pictures into a photo album or creating a collage (on paper or digitally).
    • Spend time with your parents or grandparents. Ask them to tell you stories about their lives. Capture their stories in some way:
      • Write a play about them (and you can perform it for them);
      • Draw a series of pictures of events from their lives;
      • Write down their story;
      • Find their pictures and put them together or use them to create something else;
      • Call family friends to get other information about them to surprise them with an album of what their friends like about them (this also makes a great anniversary gift);
      • Put together a tape or CD of their favorite songs.
    • Draw or paint a picture of a favorite memory or a place of which they have spoken.

Enjoy finding ways to make the spirit of Christmas active in your life as you share it with others.