In the midst of the coronavirus epidemic, Christmas has taken on a whole new meaning. Some families put up their Christmas trees back in November. Other families are mourning the loss of some of the most beloved family traditions, including pictures with Santa, town Christmas parades, and holidays spent with families brought together from all over the country. Still other families are trying to simplify the gift-giving, since many find themselves struggling financially in the wake of job losses and economic depression. If you are trying to bring some extra Christmas joy to your holiday this year, consider these 10 tips for creating a more biblical, sacramental Christmas.
1. Set up your nativity in phases. If you haven’t set up your nativity set yet, consider doing it in stages. Begin with an empty stable and arrange the shepherds and sheep at a reasonable distance. On Christmas Eve, place Mary and Jospeh in the stable and tell your children about the journey to Bethlehem. You might want to put Baby Jesus out once the children are asleep in a Santa-like fashion, or you might consider gathering as a family on Christmas morning and singing a Christmas carol as one of your children places Jesus in the manger.
2. Be more like the Wise Men and less like Santa Claus. Instead of giving your children a myriad of different gifts, consider giving them three gifts instead. If three gifts was enough for the Son of God, three gifts is good enough for your children too.
3. Include a birthday cake with your more traditional Christmas desserts. Before you dig into the Christmas cookies, sing “Happy Birthday” to Baby Jesus.
4. If you’re tired of the Elf on the Shelf, try focusing on the Wise Men instead. On Christmas morning, place the three Magi from your nativity set in a somewhat hidden location. Encourage your children to find them, and then repeat the process through the twelve days of Christmas. Remind your children of how the Magi had to follow the Christmas star to find the Christ Child in the manger.
5. Spread out the Christmas joy. Instead of having your kids in empty their stockings on Christmas morning, invite them to extend the gift-giving process. Fill their stockings with twelve small gifts, one for each of the twelve days of Christmas, and allow your children to choose one gift to open a day.
6. If your children will be receiving lots of presents from Santa on Christmas morning, encourage them to choose one gift to save until the Epiphany. If you’re limiting your presents to just three on Christmas morning, purchase a fourth that you can hold back until the Epiphany. It’ll be a wonderful surprise the first year, and a great tradition to look forward to from then on.
7. Don’t toss the tree on January 2nd. Contrary to secular opinion, the Christmas season doesn’t end after the New Year. The traditional twelve days of Christmas end on the feast of the Epiphany, so hold onto that tree for a few more days. And if you really want to go crazy this Christmas, keep up your decorations through February 2nd, the feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple.