Making Christmas Meaningful
Christmas is a wonderful time of year for gathering family and friends and sharing in meaningful traditions. It is a season for reaching out to others and for recalling memories from years ago. As you and your family share the love and light of Christ this holiday season, may your hearts abound with God’s love and joy and peace.
In this article, staff members share the traditions and holiday ideas that have meant a lot to their families through the years. We hope this holiday season is filled with special times for your family as you keep Christ the central focus of your celebrations.
Keeping Christ First at Christmas
“Our family reads an advent book together during the Christmas season. Each page of the book features a uniquely decorated door, and behind each door is a part of the Christmas story. We read it in the evening during our family devotions, and each child opens up a door when his or her turn comes. I really appreciate this time, because it cultivates an appreciation for family time during the Christmas season.
“We also have a special family dinner on Christmas Eve, followed by reading the Christmas story, prayer, and opening Christmas gifts. With opening the gifts, we take turns going down the line of siblings and watching them receive their gifts, which is half the fun! On Christmas Day, we invite people from church who have no family gatherings that day to come to our home for a turkey dinner.
“The traditions my parents started have made our Christmas season a family-oriented time and have impressed on me the importance of family oneness and quality time together. Most of all, Mom and Dad do not let us forget what Christmas is really about!”
—Karen Wiebe of Straffordville, Ontario
Savoring the Security of God’s Love
“On Christmas Eve, my extended family gathers in my grandparent’s living room. Before exchanging gifts, Grandpa reads the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke. It’s such a warm, peaceful family time. Through this time, I can feel the love and security of God’s acceptance of me.”
—Luke Kallberg of Westmont, Illinois
Making Ornaments More Meaningful
“Several years ago, my parents noticed that we were missing the true meaning of Christmas. The focus of our holiday season was more on receiving the gifts and decorating the house!
“One evening, Mom and Dad sat us down and gave us a special project. For each ornament that we owned, we had to find a Scripture verse, type it up, and attach it to the ornament. The verses needed to say something about the ornament and direct our attention to the Lord. You can imagine that since there are only two of us, it took a long time!
“Did it help us get our focus on the true meaning of Christmas? Yes, it did! Every year, when we get out the ornaments and decorate, the verses help us reflect on the Lord sending His Son and remembering the true meaning of Christmas.”
—Micaela Vinson of Haysville, Kansas
Telling the Tales of Christmas
“Growing up, I loved unpacking the Christmas decorations, and at our house, this also included special books of Christmas stories. I spent hours looking at the colorful pictures, and I loved snuggling up with Mom or Dad for story time!
“The themes of the stories spoke about love and generosity and the meaning of Christmas. Reading them gave me time to slow down and think through the significance of the season and to enjoy time with my family. These stories helped shape my appreciation for the holidays and inspired me to make the most of the Christmas season.”
—Ruth Gulbranson of Blaine, Minnesota
Gathering Family Input and Planning
“A couple months before Christmas, our whole family participates in a planning session for the holiday season. We discuss our best memories of past years, the special foods we would enjoy making again, gift ideas, who we should invite to our home, and what special activities to participate in. I love the laughter over great memories, the excitement for new ideas, and even the tears as we reminisce about special things that happened in past years.
“Everyone looks forward to this time because it’s our opportunity to be open about what we really enjoy, knowing Mom and Dad will remember what we say when they make the final decisions. By talking about all of these things as a family, we are able to make sure the most important things take place, and we have a good reference point when last minute opportunities arise. The results have been much more relaxed, memorable holiday seasons for our family, as we do special things with each other and others, and take opportunities to celebrate Christ’s birth!
“Before we meet for the pre-holiday planning, we fill out a worksheet with questions about what we do and don’t like about the holidays. We use the same sheet to re-evaluate our time after each Christmas, which has also been really helpful for my parents!”
—Cynthia Sites of Cary, North Carolina
- Host an Extended Family Nativity Pageant
- Holiday family gatherings can create a perfect time for putting on a nativity pageant. With the help of cousins, uncles, and aunts, you can retell the Christmas story with a full cast of volunteers! Pageants can be an impromptu rendition of the story or prepared with a script and simple costumes. You’re sure to make memories of family fun with everyone gathered to recall the miracle of the first Christmas.
- Create Hand-Made Decorations
- Taking time to make Christmas decorations brings your family together for a time of creativity and memory making. Craft stores are full of ideas for using paper, felt, paint, beads, ceramics, and more to make unique holiday items. The handmade pieces can become heirlooms for your family holidays or meaningful gifts for neighbors, relatives, and friends.
- Read About More Holiday Traditions
- ATI Family Consultants from around the country shared family traditions that help keep their focus on Christ during the holidays. Read more >>
May your holiday season be filled with meaningful times for you and your family as you take time to celebrate the gift of Christ, family, and friends. Merry Christmas!