Christmas season presents us with new opportunities to bring “the Good News of Jesus into every human situation” (Matthew 28:19-20). Here are ten simple ways to bring the good word during the holidays.
- Learn about the origin of Santa Claus in St. Nicholas, whose feast day is Dec. 6. He is a Catholic Saint, who cared for the poor and worked many miracles out of his love for Jesus Christ. Discover traditions from other countries at www.stnicholascenter.org.
- Keep a small empty manger in your workplace during Advent. This can be a symbol of a heart that is open and empty. Pray for others to be open to meeting Jesus this Christmas. For the story of the first crèche see “Bringing Christmas to Life Again.”
- Plan a birthday party for Jesus with your family, small group or parish. Sing a few Christmas carols, read Lk. 2:1-20, and sing “Silent Night.” End with cake, candles, ice-cream and soda, singing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus. For words and music go to www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com.
- Send Christmas cards that celebrate Jesus’ birthday, not just a generic winter holiday. Pray and ask God for special words of love, encouragement, and wisdom to write in those cards. For ideas, see Christian cards at www.dayspring.com.
- Gather family, friends and/or parishioners to sing Christ-centered Christmas carols as part of a meal or gathering. Print words and music, since people under 40 do not know them. Share stories of family Christmases and their spiritual meaning for you. For more ideas see www.christmascarolfestival.com.
- When you decorate the outside of your house, plan to have Christian symbols at the heart of your display. Let the other decorations point towards these Christian symbols. See http://wilstar.com/xmas/xmassymb.htm.
- Invite both practicing and non-practicing family and friends to join you at Christmas Mass. Afterwards ask them how it went for them (i.e. likes, dislikes, feelings, etc.). Just listen with understanding and compassion. Share what it was like for you to go to Christmas Mass together.
- Pray aloud before meals and use the sign of the Cross, even when eating in restaurants. Or use a verse from a Christmas carol like, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” with a different verse every day around a simple Advent Wreath. See The Essential Advent and Christmas Handbook.
- Set up a Nativity Scene in a prominent place in your home, and let the figurines make their way slowly across the room during Advent, arriving on Christmas Eve. Pray together with family or friends at the creche (i.e. night prayers with children, weekly Advent prayers and songs, etc.). Keep manger scene up through the Feast of the Epiphany in January (12th day of Christmas, like in the song).
- Buy Christmas gifts for their usefulness and as an expression of love rather than for their commercial popularity or status. We never like to make Christmas about gifts, but we like to show our appreciation. Give things that enhance the receiver’s life, much the way Jesus Christ came to give us new life. A few great examples of gifts we love to give out are journals, or something creative like a wooden calendar.
How do you bring your faith into the Christmas season? Do you have any other tips to give us? Let us know in the comments!