|This is the ornament from our first married Christmas. Photo credit|
goes to our dear friend, Amber of Amber Dawn's Portraits
Last year I wrote this post explaining why we won't be doing Santa with our children. We still stand by that. Recently I was asked what kinds of things we plan to do instead. Tom and I started brainstorming and came up with several things that we feel will be good additions to our Christmas celebrations and will help reinforce all of the positive things we want our kids to gain from Christmas. A couple of these are things we do already, without kids. But, as with everything in life, would be made more joyful with the addition of children. Many of these are traditions from other cultures or families. Some are things I've read in books.
I thought I would share our ideas with you, in hopes that you may find a new tradition or two, or an idea at least.
- Have a designated jar for change and spare cash. Throughout the year, every time you drop money into the jar, say a prayer for the recipient. Shortly before Christmas count the change and exchange it for all cash. Fill the jar with candy or some other individually wrapped treat, as well as the cash. Attach a note or card explaining that all year you saved up money as a family and prayed that it would be a blessing to whoever received it. Explain that that was the jar chosen for them ((could have kids decorate it)) and that you hope they'll be blessed by it and perhaps bless someone else. Leave it on a stranger's doorstep Christmas Eve night on the way to Midnight Mass.
- Talk about how Jesus was born in a stable ((no room at the inn)) set an extra place at the table. There's always room for one more.
- Let everyone you know know that they are welcome to join you for dinner. Mean it. This is our policy at every dinner we host, has been since we got married. All of our meals are open invitation ((sadly, we don't get to host this year)) Seriously, how many leftovers do we always have? No one should be alone on Christmas...or any day for that matter. No worries, any time you knock on my door hungry I will find you food. No matter what month it is.
- Leave a candle burning or the light on symbolizing that the Light of the World has been born.
- Take the children shopping for baby gifts and deliver them to a pregnancy shelter. The idea being that when someone we love has a new baby we generally buy them gifts for the new child. He said, "The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." (Matthew 25:40)
- Make up "movie night" packages with a package of microwave popcorn, a box of candy, and a two-liter of soda. If finances afford you could add cheap DVDs, a Christmas book, popcorn bowls, movie giftcards, etc. whatever you can afford. Type up a little note about slowing down and enjoying a family night together. Leave them on the doorsteps of friends and neighbors a few days before Christmas. We often forget to slow down this time of year.
- Buy/make extra Christmas cards and send a few to strangers. I do this a lot. I do always make sure to mention that NO, they don't me, I just wanted to make sure that someone wished them a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I do this randomly throughout the year too. I write them a note, pray for them and include one of these prayer cards. Of course, I really do prayer for the things mentioned.
- Christmas crackers are apparently very common in the UK. I think it's a really cool idea. Here is a good tutorial on making them. I would print off scripture verses or prayers or get prayer cards to put in them and also have the children make small gifts to go inside. Open them after dinner.
- Have everyone choose a gift to give to someone in need. Yes, a gift they just got. We often give our old, worn out, unloved belongings to those that need them. If we really believe Matthew 25:40 then wouldn't we want Him to have our best? Usually, everything you get for Christmas is new and shiny and you like it all. This should remind us to give our best, not just what's left over. Literally and figuratively.
- Every year we pick out and ornament that has some meaning to us that year and write the year we got it and why we chose it either on the ornament, on a tag attached to it, or in the box with it. We often buy them on trips or during significant events.
What traditions do you have, or want to have with your family?