Previous Months' Topics

Make this the Best Christmas Ever

 ‘Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the house …

The economy is still slumping and unemployment is climbing higher, so how do you make this the best Christmas ever?

The simple secret is to make it a good Christmas for someone else, and the blessings will flow for you. As a father, you have lots of opportunities to make this happen, even if there’s not as much cash flow this year. Just keep it simple and sacred, and close to the heart and hearth.

Make A Joyful Noise!
When is the last time you went caroling (or Wassailing) with your family? Whether you live in the city, suburbs or country, this can be a fun and inspiring practice.

If you think your neighbors won’t appreciate you going house to house, you could always gather some friends from the parish and sing in front of the church one evening, waving to passersby or passing cars.

Or check when your town has its annual Christmas tree lighting (even if they call it a winter tree or something equally as awful) or Christmas parade with Santa.

Your kids will love it and are guaranteed to remember the experience more than any cool toy.

Downhill Racer
In the same spirit, when is the last time you took your kids sledding (apologies to warm-weather readers)?

When the first snow falls, head for the nearest hill. Maybe it’s time to get out the old Flexible Flyer from your childhood. Or maybe just use an old inner tube which the kids can sit on in a circle (you may have to catch them at the bottom).

Just get out there, have fun, and leave some hot cocoa waiting inside.

Magic Music
Everyone loves Christmas songs that highlight the joy, sharing, family and mystery of the season. Get the CD player going after dinner each night with some traditional tunes like “Silent Night” or “Away in the Manger,” or get the kids jumping around with “Rudolph” and “Deck the Halls.”

Amy Grant’s “My Best Christmas” album goes especially well with our theme.

Read Round the Season
Gather round the fireplace or just arrange chairs in a circle.

There are lots of great Christmas stories that your library may have showcased this month. For older children, try the classic "The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry; it will teach them the beauty of giving selflessly with love.

For younger kids, you can’t go wrong with one of the many versions of “The Little Drummer Boy.”

Movie Time
Friday or Saturday nights are ideal for family home movies. Go with the oldies “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “Miracle on 34th Street.”

Younger children will enjoy the Catholic animated CCC series, which tell the truth about Christmas, such as “St. Nicholas: The Boy Who Became Santa.”

Remember Advent
Build the excitement and keep the focus by observing the four weeks of Advent. Light an Advent candle each Sunday, and say a few prayers. Or get an Advent calendar with a Scripture verse for each day – there are ones with flaps which kids love to open each morning.

Volunteer
The spirit of the season is giving – if you don’t have extra money, you may have extra time. Choose a volunteer project that will help your kids learn through doing the true meaning of Christmas.

The Knights of Columbus has a number of programs that you can get involved with, including Food for Families and Coats for Kids. Check out the www.kofc.org website for details.

Keep Christ in Christmas
The Knights of Columbus is also big on having everyone remember that “Jesus is the reason for the season.”

When you hear someone say, “Happy Holidays,” respond simply “And Merry Christmas, too!” (Try to sound more “joyful” than “triumphant” as you say it, so not to spoil the effect.)

O Tannenbaum!
Whether you get a fresh tree or dig the artificial one out of the closet, let the children help. At any age, they can do at least something, like hang a paper ornament. Let the kids take a little more responsibility each year, and you’ll always have willing helpers in getting the tree in shape.

Bake something
Christmas cookies in snowman shapes with sprinkles for a face. (Send them my way!)

Make something
Have your children cut out paper ornaments, or get a coloring book of Nativity scenes.

Keep the Joy Alive
Don’t forget that in Church terms, Christmas is an Octave – it lasts for eight days. So Christmas actually comes again and again each day for a full week!

Of course, you won’t be giving gifts each day, but you should keep the spirit of love and joy alive by doing something special.

While the rest of the world is taking down wreathes and lights, your family will be saying “Merry Christmas” each day. If nothing else, it’ll make your kids love to be Catholic at this time of year!

Here’s wishing you and your family the Best Christmas Ever, from all of us at Fathers for Good!