Home Life by Bev and Phil Haas
I want Christmas to be special. Childhood Christmas memories are not pleasant for my husband and me, and it would be easy for us to ignore the holiday. But we’d like to turn this around for our children. We don’t have a treasure chest to pull ideas from for our preschoolers, but we really would like our family to have fun this Christmas.
Begin your family fun by becoming involved in the Christmas activities at your local church. Most churches provide Christmas programs and community outreach events for families leading up to Christmas. The December church calendar can get pretty crowded, so you may need to pick and choose those that fit the ages of your children. Overcommitment is the cause of much stress during the holidays. But with some discernment, you’ll be able to combine both the spiritual and fun parts of Christmas.
Ask the Children
When it comes to fun, children often have the best ideas. Ask them to suggest activities they’d like to do during the month of December. You might be surprised at the simplicity of their requests. I can’t count the number of times we spread a blanket near the Christmas tree and read The Night Before Christmas. You may want to establish financial boundaries for the suggestions you receive because you don’t want to make endless trips to the toy store. Take turns choosing activities. Some families have members put their suggestions (with prior approval) in a jar and then pick one at a time leading up to Christmas Eve. Whatever the activity, laugh together and allow everyone to participate. Our grandson Caden’s preschool teacher reminds her students at snack time, “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.” Everyone in the family should display that attitude when an activity is chosen. It might not be someone’s personal favorite, but everyone’s in it together.
Your Own Traditions
If we did something once in our home, our son Brian would say, “We always did it,” meaning it’s a tradition now. Each year our children received a new ornament to help decorate the tree. When they grew up and moved out, their ornaments went with them. Some families take an annual hike through a tree farm and pick out a tree together to cut down for their home.
The fun of Christmas isn’t all about what we do. Putting fun into our Christmas celebration is more about doing things together. Whether the family is driving around and looking at Christmas lights, strolling downtown, attending a Christmas Eve service at church, or sipping hot chocolate, it’s the togetherness that creates the lasting memories. If your children feel your time together is given begrudgingly or is simply part of your Christmas “to-do” list, the fun will quickly fade.
You didn’t expound on your unpleasant Christmas memories. Perhaps you were pulled in too many directions with family, especially if there was a divorce. Maybe stress manifested itself in yelling and arguments. Phil remembers Christmas growing up as a fun time intermingled with family fights (between his mom and dad).
Whatever the past held for your family growing up, it doesn’t have to be repeated with your children. You and your children have an opportunity to start fresh and add fun to the celebration of Jesus’ birth. You don’t need a treasure chest of ideas to make that happen. Be careful not to put pressure on yourself to have the perfect family Christmas. That alone can rob your family of the fun you are hoping to have together. As everyone knows, none of us experiences the picture-
perfect Norman Rockwell scene in our homes. But we can have fun together. Simple things enjoyed together will create the fun memories you are longing for.
We hope this sounds simple to you, because it is. Albert Einstein said, “When the solution is simple, God is answering.” Faith begins with the simple act of believing in the one whose birthday we celebrate at Christmas. Fun begins with the simple desire to enjoy the celebration together with those who are closest to us—our family. We hope this Christmas holiday will be the beginning of many fun times together for you and your family.
Send your questions about family life to Phil and Bev Haas in care of The Lookout, 8805 Governor’s Hill Drive, Suite 400, Cincinnati, OH 45249, firstname.lastname@example.org.We regret that personal replies are not always possible. Phil and Bev Haas are involved in education and family ministry in Cincinnati, Ohio. They are the parents of two children and they have one grandson.