This is coming at you from my role as a kid’s pastor and as a dad. Here are a few things I always try to do with my own kids and things I believe we should do with our church at Christmas.
1) Watch as many Christmas movies as you can over the holidays. I actually clear nights on my calendar to hang out and watch a slew of movies with my kids. We do hot chocolate when we watch Polar Express. We watch Charlie Brown Christmas and serve toast, jellybeans, and popcorn. (from the C.B. Thanksgiving special) We watch It’s a Wonderful Life and eat clam chowder in a bread bowl every Christmas Eve.
2) Establish some unique traditions. Provide things your kids can look forward to and talk about that is unique to your family. This is something that, when your kids get married, their spouses will say, “You want to do WHAT every Christmas?” My family goes to a Chinese restaurant every Christmas Day. This gives my awesome wife a break from having to fix a huge dinner for us, and we can bless the folks working on Christmas Day.
3) Serve somewhere in your community. Find some place that you can serve with your kids. Virtually every homeless shelter and food pantry needs volunteers over the holidays. Seeing how others live gives great perspective.
4) Serve your church. In most cases, folks in ministry don’t get to enjoy the holidays at home. At my church, there are rehearsals and events almost every night of every week from the week after Thanksgiving until the Christmas Eve services. That’s the sacrifice required for being in ministry. It’s always special when families in the church bless those families that serve in full-time ministry. Prep a meal with your kids. Have the whole family jump in the car to deliver it to the home of a family serving on church staff. Pray for that family with your kids.
5) Shift the focus to Jesus, his manger, and his cross. Christmas is great, in context. Don’t let the constant barrage of neutral holiday buzz keep you from remembering the expected arrival of the Savior. We should go beyond celebrating a birthday party for Jesus, (nevermind that he probably wasn’t born in the winter) and also discuss the reason he was born, which was to save us from our sins. Use the season to tell the full story, with it’s very happy ending, and the coming sequel. We should continue to anticipate his NEXT arrival!