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3 ways to celebrate Jesus as a family this Christmas

3 ways to celebrate Jesus as a family this Christmas

The season of Advent brings a deep sense of wonder. We wait expectantly to celebrate the Light of the World being born in the form of an infant. We sing Christmas carols, enjoy celebrations together and most of all—set aside time to make memories. But during the days leading up to Christmas, there can be a shadow side, too. Maybe you’re feeling pressure to buy the perfect presents, or you’re struggling with feelings of loneliness or grief.

It’s hard not to get caught up in the holiday hustle. While all the cookie-decorating and tree-trimming can be fun, we can remember that in those dark moments of overwhelm or disappointment, the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

When I find my family drifting away from anticipation and getting lost in obligations, we incorporate a few ways to orient our hearts back to Jesus’ birth.

1. Light a candle at dinner

It doesn’t have to be fancy, and it doesn’t even have to be an official Advent dinner. As you munch on mac and cheese and pass the chicken nuggets, lower the lights and observe the flicker of the candle. Remember that God is with us in both the darkness and the light.

2. Get reading

We’ve collected Christmas, winter and holiday children’s books over the years from thrift stores, library sales and garage sales. We store the well-loved books in a basket that we bring out for the holidays. You can also visit the library to borrow some books or support your locally owned bookstore. (Even our older kids like revisiting old favorites.)

3. Pray together

There’s no wrong way to pray. If you’re looking for some words to borrow during this Advent season, I’ve included a prayer from my book “To Light Their Way.” May it provide comfort during this complicated and wonderful season.

A Prayer for Advent

O come, Emmanuel.
We enter this time of Advent
With holy anticipation.
We enter this sacred season
With bated breath.

O come, Emmanuel.
We’re prone to get tangled
In sparkling lights and glittering tinsel,
Lost in to-do lists,
Swallowed in the seas
Of ribbons and restless hearts and weary souls.

O come, Emmanuel.
Our nights have not been silent,
Calm or bright.
We have been up late
Squinting at the stars,
Trying to make sense
Of the hurting world our children will inherit,
And our weary hearts in it all.
O come, Emmanuel.
We see the wonder etched in our children’s eyes,
And we ask for our grown-up anxieties
To be set free
As we await the day
To celebrate
The God who made a way.

O come, Emmanuel.
Ignite in us the awe of a child,
Looking into a manger scene
As we wait on the promise
Of the coming infant King
In a humble stable.

O come, Emmanuel.
The whole world waits for you.
We are at war with each other
And ourselves.
We have clung to our idols
Of power and pocketbooks,
And we cry out for the ways
We have reflected King Herod,
Even as we ache for you,
Prince of Peace.

O come, Emmanuel.
Help us light the candles
And illuminate the darkness
Within us.
O Light of the World,
Be with us as we recite these stories
With our children—
Of shepherds and angels and
Peace for all people.
Ring the bells
Of righteousness, of justice of hope.

O come, Emmanuel.
Help us prepare the way
In our hearts and in our home,
In our family and in our children.
As we hang stockings and ornaments,
As we frost cookies and tie bows,
We know your peace
Can’t be bought or packaged.

O come, Emmanuel.
We anticipate great news
That we so desperately need.
Break into this world
Again and again and again,
Like you did so many years ago.
Bring joy to the people,
Hope to the hopeless,
Light to the darkness.
And may we and our children
Prepare you room
So that we may be instruments
Of your peace.

O come, Emmanuel.

We thank you for this time of anticipation
And for the glimmers of your light spilling in
Even now
Among the ornaments and the candy canes.
We thank you for this time of together.
Help us to get quiet, to get small
So we can make space in our souls
For the newborn
Who will illuminate the darkness
And change everything.

O come,
O come,
Emmanuel.

Amen.

During this Advent season, may you and your family catch glimmers of the illuminating love of Christ. What small ways could you incorporate connection and reflection into the coming days leading to Christmas?

Taken from “To Light Their Way” (Tyndale Momentum, 2021) by Kayla Craig. Used with permission.


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Kayla Craig

Kayla Craig writes nuanced and nurturing prayers for parents raising kids in turbulent times at Liturgies for Parents and is an experienced podcast producer. She co-founded and hosts Upside Down Podcast, a place for ecumenical conversations on faith and justice. She and her husband Jonny live in Iowa, where they raise four young kids. She’s stubborn in hope and has a penchant for deep mugs of coffee, deeper laughs and even deeper questions.