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O Holy Night
Emphasizing the Sacred at Christmas


During this beautiful, but busy, holiday season, and especially in the hustle and bustle of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day themselves, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that what we are celebrating is the birth of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.  We become so involved with family activities, planning the perfect meal, purchasing and wrapping gifts for our loved ones and entertaining guests.  

We asked our participants at Catholic Mom to share their ideas on how to keep the celebration of Christmas sacred, holy and with an emphasis on things spiritual.  The following are their wonderful ideas.

Related Resources: Advent Index
Christian Christmas Coloring Pictures
Blessing of a Christmas Tree

Catholic Update features an excellent article on this topic: Holy Days vs. Holidays:  Making Christmas Less Commercial  

Jesse Tree Kit
The Advent tradition of creating a Jesse Tree comes from the verses in Isaiah and Matthew that speak of Jesse, the father of King David. On each branch hangs a picture of some of the forty-two generations of Jesusí ancestors from both the Old and New Testaments. The pictures of the Holy Family are often placed at the top. This kit offers two options designed to make the Jesse Tree project accessible to any family, class or parish. Option 1:  Prepare an actual tree with designs from do-it-yourself three-dimensional ornaments.
Option 2:  A Jesse Tree Poster with pre-drawn ornaments to be colored and attached. This three-piece kit also includes a short history of the Jesse Tree, suggested Scripture verses for each ornament, and a Jesse Tree prayer service. Click here for more information


Every year, we set up our "window lights"....on Dec. 1 (or 1st Sunday of Advent) we light one candle in one window....each week we add a window (just so happens we have 4 windows in the front of the house.) Then on Christmas eve, we will finally join the rest of the neighborhood and turn on all our lights.  

Here's another family Advent tradition for those with little ones. Build a simple (think popsicle stick) "crib". Get a large bag of cotton balls. Each evening, reflect on the day with your little ones and see if they had a good behavior day. If so, they get to add a cotton ball to the crib, and make it a little softer for Baby Jesus. (Sometimes it helps with the daytime behavior if you remind them during the day that unless they shape up, they won't get to put in a cotton ball that night.) Then on Christmas, you can put Baby Jesus in the soft crib that they helped to make.  shared by Marabelle2

A tradition that I like comes from Eastern Europe. Every Christmas Eve, Christmas Day evening and New Year's Eve my family did the following:
1) Take a pan and put a bit of burning cinder from the Christmas tree in it. [burn a branch of the tree and let it smolder.](incense)
2) Take a branch of the christmas tree and dip it in holy water scattering it about.
3) Do 1 and 2 while praying the rosary and entering every room in the house.
In this way you bless the house for Christmas and the New Year!  submitted by Ash

My mom and dad also had us sing Happy Birthday to Jesus before we opened the presents--and a Hail Mary, too. Some of my favorite Christmas pictures are of all us kids, our faces shining with anticipation (the tree and packages are just over our shoulders, after all), our hands folded, our rumpled robes, the girl's pin curls, in front of our rather shabby manger.
We do that here. In addition, as I said before, Delia picks one of her dolls to honor as the Christ Child and all through Advent she adds "straw" for good deeds to the "manger" (a clemetine box; her choice!).   On Christmas morning, we find the baby wrapped in Brightly colored tissue paper (usually royal purple, but whatever's still left over LOL), with a gold halo from gold wrapping paper. The dolls are transformed by this. She has told me that she thinks St. Nick/Santa dresses the baby to honor Jesus. That's as good an explanation as I can come up with. There is always one gift tucked near this manger; this year it will be Tomie dePaola's The Night of Las Posadas. The Christ Child leaves a note talking about her growth over the past year and hopes for the next.

We also always make "potato Stars" for Christmas breakfast or brunch, for after Mass. She loves this use for leftover mashed potatoes. (add flour to mashed potatoes, and then fry in a little butter. We use cookie cutter stars for the season; shamrocks on St. Patrick's day, etc.) 
submitted by Mary

In addition to mass, of course, we always make a special birthday cake for Jesus. We put a candle on & sing "Happy Birthday" and everything. Also, we always read from the bible the story of Christmas. It helps us to make sure Maggie knows what Christmas is really about.   submitted by Lori

A couple of traditions that we as a family have enjoyed...the first is that when we awake on Christmas morning, the first thing that my daughter does as we all gather around the nativity is put the baby Jesus in his crib. As she does this, we all say together, Happy Birthday, Jesus. Then we all hold hands and each of us individually tells Jesus why we are thankful that we know him. It is a very special time with my children--truly a blessing to hear those little voices telling Jesus how much they love him--I am getting tears in my eyes just thinking about it.

The second one is that as we open our gifts, we each have to say why we are thankful for the person who has given us the gift. It really teaches the children about the spirit of giving and being appreciative of the people in our lives.

This is a great topic--it helps us think about those little things we do as families year after year that just become a habit. I have remembered now just how much I love these things and cherish this time with my family--Thanks for thinking of it.  submitted by Michele