For the second time in a row, Christmas will be a relatively quiet affair for many of us, no thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Unlike the good old times of hosting Christmas gatherings and gift exchanges, joining in church dinners and neighbourhood carolling (or even going for a holiday to soak in the festive atmosphere overseas) many families are likely to find themselves confined to their homes in Singapore this Christmas—again.

This can be tough for our children. Perhaps, however, it might also give us an unusual opportunity to ponder on this important question: What does Christmas mean to our family?

Is it Christmas because of the festive songs that we are already beginning to hear in the shopping malls? Is it because of the gleaming lights and shiny baubles strung across the family Christmas tree? Or the anticipation of giving and receiving presents?

Or, do we see it as an occasion to remember the “Christ” in “Christmas”? After all, isn’t that what Christmas is meant to be all about?

How do we help our children remember that Christmas is not about fairy lights, jingly carols, and exciting gifts, but about the birth of God’s Son, who came to earth as a man so that He could die for us, set us free from the power of sin, and reconcile us with the holy God?

 

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Here are five ideas to consider, if you’re looking for ways to help your family celebrate the birth of Jesus amid Covid-19 this year:

1. Start an Advent Reading Plan Together

The best way to remember God’s Son this season is to read about Him in His Word. Pick a Bible reading plan that you can read together as a family. You can find a range of plans online or on your Bible app, from a 31-day Advent plan to a 7-day countdown plan to Christmas.

If you have children below 12, you can also get copies of Give Us This Day, a 31-day devotional catered specially for kids

Take turns to read the Scripture together, and discuss with your children any questions or thoughts they might have. You can also pick a Christmas carol to sing together before or after reading the day’s passage.

In the days leading up to Christmas Day, you can also ask each family member to choose a Bible verse or passage that he has learnt over the course of the year that holds special meaning to him. On Christmas morning, each family member can take turns to read his chosen verse or passage, and share why it’s important to him.

The best way to remember God’s Son this season is to read about Him in His Word.

This can help us remember, celebrate, and give thanks for the birth of Jesus:

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son,
who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
—John 1:14

2. Help Out in the Community

As we remember and rejoice in God’s greatest gift to us, we are also called to imitate Christ in loving and serving others. As Ephesians 5:1–2 urges us:

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Consider getting your family to volunteer with your church, a charity, or an organisation that you support—whether it’s to prepare and distribute meals to the needy, spend time with the elderly, or reach out to migrant workers.

If you are comfortable, you can physically volunteer as a family. Some local initiatives include The Boys’ Brigade’s annual Share-A-Gift project and Willing Hearts’ Soup Kitchen, which allows families to volunteer together.

Consider getting your family to volunteer with your church, a charity, or an organisation that you support

If volunteering in person isn’t an option for your family right now, you can consider making a donation to your chosen charity or organisation. Find out who and what your children would like to support, and how these groups serve the community. Ask your children how much they would like to give as part of your family’s donation, and pray for the organisation’s staff, volunteers, and beneficiaries.

(Looking for ideas? Read about how one family found a simple way to bless their neighbours.)

You can also find out what your church is doing to commemorate Christmas, and see how your family can get involved. For example, you could help out in an online Christmas party to reach out to kids, or send a testimony video of thanksgiving for your Christmas service programme.

All these also provide great opportunities for the family to talk about what Christmas really means.

3. Make Your Own Christmas Cards

Remember the times when we would actually receive Christmas cards? (Yes, those that arrived in our letterboxes, not in our inboxes!) In this season when Covid-19 restrictions have made face-to-face meetings a bit more challenging, this could be a meaningful gesture.

This Christmas, you could rope in your kids to design, write, and send Christmas cards to others, especially those whom they may not have seen in a while. For example, it could be to cousins or relatives, their friends from school or church, or even your neighbours.

You can also encourage your kids to write thank-you cards to the people who meet their needs in everyday ways, from neighbourhood cleaners to food deliverymen.

In the Christmas cards, you could select Bible verses about the birth of Jesus and His character (such as Luke 2:11, John 1:14, or Isaiah 9:6). Get the kids to write them out on the cards, and encourage them to pen down the reasons why they are thankful for this person.

This Christmas, you could rope in your kids to design, write, and send Christmas cards to others, especially those whom they may not have seen in a while.

Don’t forget to get your kids to jazz up their cards—there are plenty of Christmas craft ideas online, such as textured Christmas trees that you can stick onto the cards.

You can also consider slipping in a booklet from Our Daily Bread Ministries, What Do You Really Want For Christmas?, which introduces readers to who Jesus is. Just click here to ask for a few copies!

Pray and give thanks for these people together with your kids, before you mail or hand them out.

During this festive season, some church members may be feeling more socially or emotionally isolated because of the Covid-19 restrictions. As a family, you could give a video call to a brother- or sister-in-Christ who is living alone or feeling alone, and pray together with them. Or, you could show your love to them (from a distance) by getting the kids to help you bake Christmas cookies (or other goodies) to send to them.

4. Do Something Special for a Family Member

Aside from loving our relatives, church family, friends, and neighbours, we can encourage our children (and ourselves) to show love to those nearest and dearest to us—those living under the same roof.

As a family, think of ways you can serve or show love for one another (you could also think about how each of you would like to be loved). Write them down on slips of paper, and place them in a jar.

As a family, think of ways you can serve or show love for one another (you could also think about how each of you would like to be loved).

Every day, each family member can draw a piece of paper out and do what the paper says. For example:

  • Encourage your sibling with a verse or truth about Jesus
  • Give your parents a hug
  • Serve your child’s favourite food
  • Do one of your sibling’s chores
  • Help to wash the dishes
  • Tell your sibling one good thing about him or her
  • Ask how their day went, and pray for them afterwards
  • Give your child a time of undivided attention
  • Write a letter or draw a picture to tell your parents why you love them

Doing this gives our children the opportunity to express their love for others, whether through words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, or receiving gifts.

You might even consider continuing the “love jar” as a post-Christmas family tradition into the rest of the new year!

5. Take Part in a Christmas Programme Together

 The current Covid-19 restrictions might make Christmas celebrations muted—again—but it doesn’t mean that we need to lose the spirit of Christmas.

Whether we get to invite more or fewer guests to our homes, what we can do is to remember the gift of Christ that our heavenly Father has given to us as a family.

Get some popcorn ready, put up your feet, and watch a classic Christmas film such as The Nativity Story, A Charlie Brown Christmas, or Chasing The Star (for those with older kids). It’s a great way to spend an afternoon or evening together, and also gives you a chance to share your thoughts about the show as a family.

The current Covid-19 restrictions might make Christmas celebrations muted—again—but it doesn’t mean that we need to lose the spirit of Christmas.

Other entertainment options include watching short, kid-friendly videos telling the nativity story, or a daily devotion video series as a family.

Closer to home, Celebrate Christmas in Singapore is inviting children aged between 9 and 12 to join in their online Christmas programme. Called The Lost Christmas, the programme will run from 13 to 16 December and include a virtual quest for kids to “rediscover the lost hope of Christmas”. You can find out more at bit.ly/thelostchristmas2021.

It will also be featuring an online Christmas musical programme, “Home for Christmas: The Gift”, on 19 December. The hour-long show, which will premiere on YouTube at 8 p.m., showcases music videos contributed by local and foreign artistes, sharing the message of what it means to find joy amid loneliness and mental distress during the pandemic.

While we may not be able to celebrate Christmas like how we used to before Covid-19, there is always the reason to celebrate the season—because “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

 

Wendy is a writer, wife, and a disciple of Christ. She hopes that God will use what He’s given her, to glorify Him through her living and writing. Her perfect day includes peanut butter, spending time with the Lord, and curling up with a good novel.
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