Christmas is Family Time - by Rev. Kristen Price
Christmas is a season we all love to sit around and enjoy extra time together as a family. Because of the pandemic, this year may be different as we have already spent quite a lot of time with our families, especially those with young children over the last year. But it is Christmas and it's a time to be together. We all have different traditions we do each year, from the cookies we bake, to the way we get our tree, what stories we read and where we go on Christmas Eve. This year may be a bit different for many of us, so I thought, why not encourage my church families to develop some new traditions through our Family Advent Boxes.
Family Advent Boxes is not my idea, but an idea passed through many children’s and family pastors. The purpose of this box is to bring Christ to the center of the Christmas Season, to have families sitting around talking about Jesus and the different aspects of Christmas. It is not a box to make more work for parents to do, or a huge time commitment but a box to open the dialogue of Christ into many homes.
The boxes I did up this year were for the entire advent season, but you can definitely just do one up for Christmas Eve. It is never too late to hand this out! I made each box a bit different for each family, depending on the age range of their children but each box contained many of the same elements.
There was either a weekly or daily Devotion. This is to get families opening up their Bibles together and reading God’s Word. The weekly devotion I picked for the older families in my church had a craft, a recipe, a memory verse game, and a song they could listen to, as well as little written parts. This helps to keep the discussion going throughout the week as they work through the different aspects of the devotion.
There were daily conversation cards that families could read and discuss over breakfast or supper. Simple questions such as “What do you enjoy about Christmas?” or “Read Isaiah 9:6, what does that mean to you?” It is just another way to engage families in great discussion.
The other large element of the boxes that I put in this year was “Family Advent Bingo” featuring daily activities for families to do together: from driving around looking at lights, to reading and acting out the Christmas story, to figuring out how to share God’s love with others. Simple yet fun! And the kids will remind parents to do it daily because they want to get bingo first!
A few other add-ins were colouring pages and activity sheets. You can add candy or other items that might help contribute to the purpose and fun of the box, all depending on your budget.
I finished the boxes off with a letter to the parents explaining what is in the box. I had some leftover pizza boxes from our “Take out Church” that I handed out last summer, so I placed all the materials in that, and put a cover on the box, a ribbon and a bow, and under the tree they went!
I gave these boxes out the first Sunday of Advent and have heard great responses from different families about them. One little guy told me all about his time drinking hot chocolate and talking about Christmas, and his sister got right into the baking from the devotion. It has been such an encouragement to see and hear families taking part in these advent boxes.
As I put the boxes together I prayed for each family that they would keep Christ the center of the holiday and instill daily times together as a family and with Christ. I encourage you to share this idea with those who serve in your children’s ministry at your church. Help them to engage families at home. You could also try it with your children or grandchildren. If you would like a list of resources please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.