Catholic Activity: Put Christ Back in Christmas
All great events and occasions require thorough preparation to ensure happy and successful results. We who do experience the true joys of Christmas can help others to share the treasures of this happy and blessed occasion with the example we give by our own preparations, and perhaps offering the following thirteen suggestions to put Christ back into Christmas.
- Make Advent a period of preparation for the coming of Christ by entering into the spirit of the liturgy of the Church which wisely urges us to use this season as a time of "fasting before the feast" and not "feasting before the feast." Waiting ("fasting") and longing for something which is good, and which you know you will receive (in this case the joys of Christmas), will make the reward all the more welcome and satisfying.
- An aid to bringing this spirit into the home is the Advent Wreath, which is an old Christian custom. A leaflet giving details and prayers is available at our service office, at the address listed below.
- If time is available, either at the family table, in the classroom, or community, the daily reading from the book Christ the Light is Coming will help the readers in attuning themselves into the proper spirit for the coming of the Christ Child. This book has a reading for every day, commencing with the First Sunday in Advent, and also has a treasury of meditations and instructions. It is available at our committee service office.
- Make plans for the "Christmas Eve Program in the Home" as outlined in an explanatory leaflet also available at our office. Let Jesus make your family circle complete, just as His coming made the Holy Family complete.
- Make the Crib, not the tree, the center of attraction in your home, club, or place of business. Let the entire family participate in building the stable, painting the figures, arranging the background, etc.
- If you drive a car, display the "Put Christ Back Into Christmas" auto stickers. Who knows but that this tiny appeal may help to put Christ back into some lonely heart this Christmas?
- Buy and send only Christmas greeting cards symbolizing the true meaning of Christmas (Nativity, etc.) to all friends, relatives, and business associates, regardless of whether they have any religious affiliations or not. Resolve not to send any other kind. The cards you send will reflect the sincerity of the sender by their beauty in both appearance and thought expressed. Keeping this resolve alone will be a big help in "Putting Christ Back Into Christmas" and into the hearts of men.
- When doing your regular neighborhood shopping, perhaps you might casually suggest to your grocer, druggist, etc., that it would be very nice if he would consider including in his holiday displays the Nativity scene, or something akin to it. If you yourself are in business, try to include in your advertising and displays something to remind your patrons of the true meaning of Christmas. Encourage the use of package stickers with the Nativity scene and message.
- In giving gifts, give them in the spirit of the Giver of Gifts whom we are honoring. Tuck in an offering of an extra prayer, Mass, some religious article, bookmark, etc. And in planning your gift list, why not include someone who is unable to reciprocate — someone who is ill, needy, the missions, etc.?
- Most gift giving demands some material sacrifice, but the greatest gift of all is yours for only a little sacrifice of time — the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. How about attending weekday Masses, Holy Hours, or just a short visit to your parish church, if possible, and offering those for your friends, and at the same time reaping infinite benefits for yourself?
- And don't forget to bake a birthday cake for Baby Jesus and give it a place of honor, with one candle, at the principal meal on Christmas. It will be another reminder that it is His birthday that we are celebrating. As a suggestion, it will make a very effective centerpiece set in the middle of the Advent Wreath you have been using in preparation for this great feast.
- In setting your table you might use napkins lettered in gold with "Put Christ Back Into Christmas," "Bless Us, O Lord," or "Pray the Family Rosary Daily," which can be obtained from our service office.
- By all means, make all of these preparations a "family affair," by having all members participate, and especially the children. Explain to them that all this preparation is being done for the purpose of giving honor to the Baby Jesus. Gather them around the piano or record player and teach them the beautiful Christmas songs. Make the entire season of Advent one of joyful anticipation.
Activity Source: Our Christian Home by Rev. Joseph A. Fischer, Seraphic Press, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1954