Merry and Meaningful
By Jeanne Winters
As you enter this year’s Christmas season, consider incorporating new traditions and time for personal reflection into your celebration. Here are 10 fresh ideas just in time for the holidays.
1. Thinking of Thankfulness
Find a beautiful blank journal. Then write the year’s blessings in it. This can be a private exercise or a family tradition. If you choose to make it a family activity, have each member write briefly and allow time to read past entries. Or, you may prefer a year-end journal to be completed after the holidays. Either way, it’s sure to become a treasured keepsake.
2. Guiding Lights
I never tire of seeing homes gleaming with colorful Christmas lights. The usual line of cars tells me I’m not the only one who enjoys the splendor! This year when you tour a glittery neighborhood, choose one decorated house and one undecorated house, say a prayer for the people who live there, and continue to pray for them every day thereafter until Christmas.
3. Do Unto Others
Bring a little Christmas cheer to a “twin family” in need by providing them with a few presents. A twin family is one with the same makeup as yours (single; married with no children; single mother with two children, etc.). Call your church or local social services for contacts and shopping guidance.
4. A Tisket, a Tasket…
Instead of exchanging gifts with your girlfriends or coworkers, arrange a party to package gift baskets for a local women’s shelter or pregnancy care center. First contact the director about specific needs and quantities. Then create a list of items and ask friends to sign up for what they’ll provide. When you gather, gift-wrap cardboard boxes or dress up inexpensive wicker baskets, then fill them with your donations. Relax over tea and holiday treats before making your delivery.
5. The Gift of You
Often the presents we shop so intently for are quickly forgotten. For a more memorable gift, why not try doing something? Think about what you might do for your spouse, friend, or parent that would have a longer-lasting, more positive impact on your relationship. Would your spouse appreciate a date night? Do your parents long for more quality time with you? Don’t be afraid to ask – it doesn’t have to be a surprise.
6. Happy Birthday, Jesus
Offer Jesus a symbolic gift in honor of His birthday. Give Him an area of your life you desire to change – an emotion, an activity, or a relationship – and physically wrap a box to represent it. Do this individually or as a family. Create a family present to display every year by painting an unfinished wooden box and tying it with a silk ribbon.
7. Serve the Servants
December is an extra busy month for church staffers who work extended hours due to holiday programs and an influx of visitors. Deliver a hot meal to one or more of these families to help lighten their load.
8. Simple Pleasures
Set aside an annual night to relish simple, old-fashioned joys. Pop some corn and snuggle with a book of sentimental short stories of Christmases past. If you have kids, plan a night of games and pizzas. Saunter through the snow-covered woods, leaving a trail of snow angels behind. Or, if you live in a warmer climate, grab a blanket, head outside, and search for the star in the East. Whatever you do, take reprieve from worries and reflect on Christ’s humble birth.
9. Guest of Honor
Set a place of honor for Jesus at your Christmas dinner table as a reminder of His presence.
10. Forgiveness Eve
The end of the year is a wonderful opportunity to engage in earnest reflection. Take tine to forgive anyone who’s wronged you during the year and for whom you still harbor resentment or bitterness. Begin the new year with a refreshed heart!