Now that Thanksgiving has come and
gone and all the leftovers have been gobbled down, we can set our
eyes on Christmas. What a wonderful time of year! Everyone is full
of cheer and goodwill toward others! No wonder it's America's
favorite holiday according to CNN.
I love the different traditions families and
churches have during this time. The tradition I share with my kids
every year around this time is our Old-Fashioned Christmas Party.
We go outside at night and roast hot dogs over a campfire, families
decorate Christmas ornaments, and kids hear about Jesus' birth
while on a hayride. In honor of all our Christmas customs, here are
some news and notes about five classic Christmas traditions I found
1. Charlie Brown. You have to
be a blockhead not to love the classic Charlie Brown holiday
specials. This year It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and A
Charlie Brown Thanksgiving won their timeslots. I love the fact that an
almost 40-year-old cartoon beat out shows like Survivor and The
X-Factor in the ratings. This week, ABC aired A Charlie Brown
Christmas and I hope it did as well as the others. I actually
showed it to my kids last year so they could see Linus explaining
the meaning of Christmas while quoting the Bible. Consider grabbing
the DVD and showing it to your kids as well! Fun fact: the show
almost never made it to air. Not only did the CBS
executives not like it, a cartoon character quoting the Bible
2. Candy Canes. A classic
Christmas tale about the Christian origin of candy canes has been
around for a while now. We actually have a modified version of the
story on our
website that you can use to tell the story to your kids. In
case you haven't heard it, the story says an Indiana candymaker
invented the J-shaped candy in order to teach kids about Jesus.
It's a fun story that I think is great to tell, but it's also
completely made up. The researchers at Snopes busted the myth a while back. So use the
story and candy canes as a sweet reminder of the real gift of
Jesus--just remember to call the candy cane story a legend.
3. Elf on the Shelf. A new
tradition for many families is the Elf on the
Shelf. It's become so popular that the elf had his own balloon
in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade this year! If you haven't
heard of it, the nutshell explanation is parents move around an elf
doll who watches for naughty and nice boys and girls every day.
Kids hear a story about how the elf moves around at night and
reports to Santa at the North Pole. I bet you could turn this idea
into a ministry activity by having a pretend elf bring in different
items that represent Jesus' birth. For example, your toy elf, who
is on a mission from Santa to tell others about Jesus, could hide
candy canes for kids, and then you could tell the candy cane story
4. Santa. In the last issue
of Children's Ministry Magazine, we reported that about 66 percent
of parents say Santa is important to their Christmas celebrations.
And 75 percent of parents report their kids believe in Santa.
(Source: Fox News; ivillage.com) We have a poll out now on the
front page of our website that asks people "What do
you tell kids who ask if Santa is real?" As I am writing this, 25
percent say they tell kids Santa is real, while 38 percent tell
kids to ask their parents. My first year of children's ministry, we
had Santa stop by. We had our kids go see "Mrs. Claus" for cookies
and milk while she told them about Jesus' birth. Afterwards, kids
met Santa and we took pictures for their families. No one seemed to
mind, but we never did it again. How do you handle Santa in your
ministry? Let us know in the comment section below!
5. Nativity Scenes. 'Tis the
season for lawsuits and fights. It's amazing how many news stories
are coming out with cities under fire for having a nativity
display. One town stopped their 60-year Christmas
tradition of putting up a nativity scene because last year an
atheist put up an anti-God scene nearby, resulting in debates and
argument. Now that city is being sued for not allowing the Nativity
scene on the city's property. Search "Nativity lawsuits" in Google,
and over a million other similar stories will appear. Now, I am
extremely interested in hearing your thoughts on this. Is this a
sign of the times? Is it no big deal? Has your city dealt with
religious side of Christmas becoming taboo? Let us know in the
comment section below.
While you are planning your Christmas
celebrations, make sure to check these fun, child-approved traditions from around
the world. Whatever you do this Christmas season, may God bless
you and your ministry!