“I get so tired getting ready for Christmas that I can’t enjoy it when it comes.”
“I dread the hurry and clutter; I’ll be glad when it’s over.”
There is an answer to these and other frequently expressed negative ideas about Christmas. The answer, which is available to every family, is simply to hold regular family home evenings in the weeks preceding Christmas. During these times together a family can create their own atmosphere for the Christmas season. Following are true experiences that demonstrate this, as told by members of the families involved.
We used to skip home evenings in December because we were so busy. We felt justified because we always had a special home evening on Christmas day. But we found that this was not enough. By then we were all far away from the spirit of Christmas.
We decided we should make time for a home evening during every week in December. It was surprising how much difference it made when we took time to think about Jesus and to talk together about what is really important when we celebrate his birthday. Now there is a different feeling in our home during the holidays.
It all began when I was preparing for a home evening early in December. I felt burdened at the time with all that had to be done before Christmas. I read in the family home evening manual that the true spirit of Christmas is the spirit of love as exemplified by our Savior. I thought to myself, “These are just words. They have nothing to do with the hustle and bustle of Christmas. What does my family really know about the love of Jesus Christ?” Right there I decided to find out.
That night during home evening I asked my family when the love of Jesus had seemed most real to them. Their answers surprised me. The most common response was, “I think it’s when everyone in our family feels good toward everyone else.”
And that is how we decided as a family to bring the spirit of Christ into our home by trying to maintain a feeling of love for each other. It was a rewarding project that changed the whole atmosphere of our home and my attitude toward Christmas.
I will never forget the home evening when we made Christmas cards for each other. We all sat around a table where Mother had set out paper, paste, scissors, and some used Christmas cards. We drew names from a bowl. Each of us decorated a card for the one whose name we had drawn and wrote on it a loving Christmas message. Then we wrapped the cards and placed them on the Christmas tree.
Those cards created a wonderful feeling in our family, and even now, years later, I count mine as one of my most treasured possessions.
I wasn’t too pleased when our family decided just before Christmas to spend a home evening with our new neighbor. She was old, lived alone, dressed funny, talked funny, and all of us boys were afraid of her.
Anyway, it was fun to help make the cookie tree to take to her, and when she saw it she cried. She said it made her think of the cookie trees she had had in her home as a child in Czechoslovakia.
We had a program where all of us did something. But the best part of it was when she told stories about when she was a little girl. She was really nice and asked us all to call her “grandma.” When I went home I felt good. I wasn’t afraid of her any more.
Yes, you can create your own atmosphere for Christmas. By holding regular home evenings you will have time to think about the Savior, his birth, and his mission, and to plan meaningful activities that will help your family experience the true joy of Christmas.
Note: Suggestions for home evenings that may be used before Christmas are found on pages 10 and 123 of the current family home evening manual.