5 Ways To Really Prepare Your Family For Christmas

blog Dec 14, 2023

A few years ago I was asked by a friend if I celebrate Christmas any differently as a Catholic as opposed to when I was Protestant.

It’s an interesting question.

Like most Protestants, we didn't really follow a detailed liturgical calendar. In my experience, everything was mostly all about Christmas day.

There was little preparation.

Little anticipation.

Frankly, I think this is one of the reasons that Christmas almost always disappointed.

There’s all kinds of build up to this one day – maybe go to a Christmas service, maybe read a passage from the Bible before you eat, people come over, you open some presents, watch some tv, and it’s over. 

And there’s always such emphasis on the presents that if you don’t get something really good, then it wasn’t really a good Christmas. 

(Although one year I got a sweet, light blue, linen, Miami Vice-to-the-hilt blazer...best gift ever!) 

Of course, if I had been a more holy youth I would have been more focused on Jesus than presents. And I’m sure a lot of our Separated Brethren are far more focused than I was.  

But my point is that the lack of Advent preparation made it more difficult for me to focus in on what was most important. 

The truth is that the Church's liturgical calendar really helps us prepare.  

Just like Easter is sweeter when you fully embrace Lent, Christmas is more glorious when you dive into Advent.

So here are 5 ways to help you and your family prepare for Christmas:

1. Bring out a creche and hide baby Jesus.

This helps the little ones understand that we’re awaiting Jesus’ coming into the world. (Just today, my five year old Benedict - while looking at the creche - yelled, "Hey! Where's baby Jesus?" This gave my wife a chance to explain that Advent is a time of expectation.)

Of course, the younger kids like to play with the figures. So if you haven’t bought one, get one that’s not breakable. (We love the Fontanini set.)

2. Pray around an Advent wreath every night.

This is one of my favorite Advent traditions. In our family, we sing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and pray a Hail Mary. The kids love it. Candles, Mystery, darkness and light. If we forget to do it for some reason, they remind us. (They also fight over who gets to blow out the candles.)

3. Advent calendar with chocolate.

It makes the days of Advent fun and something special. (And provides another opportunity to fight over whose turn it is to open the little door to eat the chocolate:)

4. It’s a little late now, but every year we really celebrate St. Nicholas' Feast Day (Dec. 6).

My wife sets it all up with stockings full of candy and other little presents. It’s a great day of fun that helps make Advent fun and reminds us that St. Nicholas isn’t some rotund figure in velour you pay money to talk to for 30 seconds in the mall.

5. A few times we’ve had the kids each pick a charity for us to donate to.

This teaches them that “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). (Yep...that's not just a Hallmark card. It's scripture!)

Of course, the point of all of this is that the reality of Christmas starts before December 25th.

In fact, December 25th itself isn’t even the end. Don’t forget that we go on to celebrate the entire octave of Christmas. Christmas day is just the beginning, both of the celebration and our salvation!

Have a blessed rest of Advent!

Matthew

P.S. Get my FREE guide to meditative prayer, 8 Ways To Jump-Start Your Prayer Life! CLICK HERE to download now!


 

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