Home for the Holidays
15 So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings[a] we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. ( 2 Thessalonians 2:15 NIV)
Stage a traditional Christmas backdrop for the women to pose for Christmas pictures. A fireplace scene or a cozy Christmas tree setting would be beautiful. Photo props such as boxes wrapped to look like gifts, scarfs and Christmas sweaters could be available for the women to wear. Provide quick developing photo cameras and give them their pictures to take home.
Host a potluck meal with the corps providing the turkey or ham. Encourage the women to bring their family’s favorite Christmas dish to share. For dessert, decorate prebaked Christmas cookies. Award prizes for the best–decorated cookies. Suggest that the women may want to share their cookies with a neighbor or a shut–in. Serve wassail and hot chocolate with the cookies.
What’s in My Stocking?
Many families have a tradition of hanging Christmas stockings for each member of the household on the fireplace. The stockings are opened on Christmas morning as part of the celebration. In most families, the mother prepares the stockings. Prepare a Christmas stocking filled with items the women may enjoy. Close the top so no one can see what is inside. Play some Christmas music and pass the stocking around. Each person writes down what she thinks is inside it. You may want to help them by letting them know how many items are in the stocking. If the group is large, have several stockings prepared. The winner of the stocking is the one with the most correct guesses.
Oh, Christmas Tree
The Christmas tree as we know it today goes back to the Victorian era when Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert began decorating fir trees as part of their Christmas celebration. The country soon followed suit and many English homes had a decorated tree as a Christmas custom. Invite the women to bring in one of their favorite Christmas ornaments. Allow time for each woman to share why it is her favorite.
Christmas Card Ministry
Another familiar Christmas tradition is the exchanging of Christmas cards. Some families include newsletters and family pictures. Many families display the cards they receive and use the cards throughout the year to pray for friends and family. Pre–address Christmas cards for the women to sign that can be sent to shut–ins, military personnel, college students or missionaries. Collect the cards at the end of the meeting and mail them on behalf of the group.
My Favorite Christmas Movie
Many American families enjoy the tradition of watching their favorite Christmas movie each year. Some watch the movie as they trim the tree and others reserve it as a Christmas Eve tradition. Make a list of well–known Christmas movies. Put the titles in a bowl and let the women take turns selecting one and drawing pictures that will help their team guess the title. Give the winning team microwave popcorn as a prize.
A newer Christmas tradition in many families is giving each family member a new pair of pajamas on Christmas Eve. Many families wear matching pajamas. To help prepare the children for bed, they put on their new pajamas and read a Christmas book before going to sleep. The next morning, all family members are wearing the same pajamas and enjoy their time of gift exchanging. Some families even take family pictures while in their pajamas. As a door prize, give away a pair of Christmas pajamas and a Christmas book.
Treasured Christmas Traditions
Each of us here today has holiday traditions we hold dear. It’s not Christmas unless we do a certain activity or eat a certain meal on certain dinnerware. By observing these family traditions, we are reminding ourselves that family is important. Whether we celebrate together in one place or in several homes across the country, we are still connected by our shared traditions. Also, we want our future generations to know and observe the traditions that we have shared throughout our lives.
In my family each year, the youngest gets to open the first gift. Then one by one, in birth order, youngest to oldest, each person opens one gift at time so that everyone gets to savor the moment their gift is opened. As you can imagine, it takes my family a while to go through this process each Christmas morning. We enjoy the time together and linger over the thoughtfulness of friends and family. As much as this was a part of my husband’s family Christmas tradition and now ours, no one has ever explained to me how this started.
Second Thessalonians 2:15 reminds us: “Stand firm and keep a strong grip on the teaching we passed on to you.” Paul wants the Thessalonians and Christians today to hold on to the sound teaching of the Gospel and to pass it on to the next generation. So as we set our nativity sets or gather for Advent readings, let’s be diligent to explain to our families why we do this. Let’s keep a tight hold of the true meaning of Christmas and be generous in sharing the Good News with everyone. Let’s make the story of Jesus birth the best Christmas tradition we observe each year.