I don't know if there are any out there who may be wanting to celebrate Christmas this year from a Christian perspective. I thought I would share a few ways that as a family, we have tried to make "family traditions" that take the focus off of materialism and on to the celebration of the birth of Christ. You may have heard of these before...
On Christmas eve, we have Shepherd's Pie for supper and think of the shepherds who received the good news out in the fields. For dessert we have a birthday cake for Jesus (complete with candles). We know that this was not really the date of Christ's birth, but this is the time that we have chosen to celebrate it. We usually go with a Black Forest Cake but probably Angel Food Cake would be more appropriate! Then we go to church for a time of singing carols by candlelight.
On Christmas morning, the children have to stay in bed until they hear music playing over the CD player--that is there cue to get up. This gives me time to make hot chocolate for everyone, turn the lights on the tree, make sure everything is just right. They love this part of waiting in anticipation in their beds. The music blares out (usually at 8 am) and it is something very seasonal--Ring the Bells, etc. Then we wait at the foot of the stairs to see the wee ones tumble down in their jammies and the older ones groggily pull themselves from bed. It is a precious memory!
We all gather in the family room and Dad brings his Bible and reads to us the Christmas story. We thank the Lord together for his coming to the world as our Saviour. Then we take turns opening our presents--there is no mad dash free for all. We make sure to show appreciation and affection to one another for the gifts. It takes quite a while to do this but it is very rewarding, because a lot of time and effort has gone into picking gifts. We don't teach about Santa--the kids know that the gifts come from us as an expression of love. I have a collection of nativity scenes that I set up around the house, and don't use Santa decorations. We do have stockings but they aren't from Santa. The big laugh is how hard it is for Dad to find stuff for Mom (the kids try and help him out, and look forward to doing this every year). We limit the amount of money we spend on ourselvesand we give money to charity.
When we get together with our extended family, we follow a similar "plan of attack", even though Nana loves the "free-for-all", we are trying to not make it a materialistic part of the celebration. We eat of course, and then we sing, play musical instruments, recite poetry, etc.d It is a lovely time of sharing together as an extended family. We live several hours apart and have busy family lives so it is great to set this time aside together.
Finally, on January 6 th, which is the traditional church date for Epiphany (arrival of the wise men), we order in Chineese food (they came from the East after all) and we take down our decorations. When the kids were young, they dressed up as kings and marched around the house to music.
Also, I was reading about reducing the gifts to children to 3, and tying it into the meaning of the gifts that were presented to Christ by the wisemen: gold (something special), frankincence (something to help them spritually--books, video, Cd, Bible, etc.) and myrrh (something to "annoint" their body--soap, Bubble bath, toiletries, etc.) We haven't done that but it is an interesting idea.
My purpose in sharing this is not to convice anyone of the right or wrong of celebrating Christmas but just to offer some ideas of how we have chosen to celebrate this season. We do other things like inviting all the neighbours over for a special night, giving food to the local food bank, sending gifts with Operation Christmas Child to children in underpriviledged countries. So, if this year, you are making new traditions, pehaps some of these ideas will be helpful.