To get our hearts ready for Christ’s birth, Ann Voskamp is writing for us, celebrating the holiday that’s all about Jesus. Join us as we anticipate the coming of our savior.
Here are her ideas for ways to celebrate Christmas morning while keeping the focus on Jesus.
1. Birthday for Breakfast
To serve Birthday Cake for Breakfast—with ice cream and an arch of balloons and birthday hats and light the candles and sing of wondrous grace! He has come! And for us!
Our tradition is angel food cake for the birthday cake—made with freshly ground wheat—and I think of the wheat that fell to the ground, died for us and the harvest of the many.
And we make breakfast a feast fit for a king. One of our best meals of the year is reserved for Christmas breakfast—recipes we serve only for Christmas Morning Breakfast: Victorian French toast with whipped cream and fresh fruit and a cranberry raspberry slushy drink; sausage bake and orange juice and pineapple. And we decorate with floating candles and and a nativity scene centerpiece and our best linens. He’s invited us to His table, adopted us, made us one of His own—and we have time to come, to say yes to His invitation!
2. Gather as a Faith Community
To gather in a chapel, in the sanctuary, in the pews as community, to bow low together with the body of Christ and marvel at the mystery of Christ—God with us.
3. Gifts for the Birthday Child
To give gifts to the birthday babe, the King Come—and these are all gifts to the least of these, because Jesus Himself said that when you give to the least of these, you give to me. So we pick out more gifts from His catalogues. We don’t open presents per se—but we open a far deeper joy. It may sound, yes, terrifying, to not exchange gifts on Christmas morning, it did to me—but the utter and unadulterated joy we unwrapped in giving away to those Jesus Himself says He’s with: the poor. And we discovered all that He is absolutely true to His word: It is always better to give than to receive, and when you give to them you are giving to Him; it leaves us filled in the realest sense. To do the one thing that is needful—touched the hem of God, murmured adoration, and offered up gifts to Him.
4. Serve Him a Meal
A loaf of fresh bread to an elderly neighbor spending his first Christmas alone, a still-in-the-dark cup of coffee and an egg sandwich delivered downtown to a homeless person, ladling bowls in a soup kitchen at lunch time, delivering sticky buns and a hug to the family who buried a child this year, gifting all the neighborhood with cookies and a card rejoicing in Christ come—serve Christ a meal this Christmas, bread of heaven come down for all the hungry.
5. Invite Someone in Need
It may be a single relative in need of a welcoming hearth, a lonely person from your faith community, a widow from down the road, a grieving friend, a lonely stranger, but to invite someone in need to His party because Christ who came to a world that had no room in the inn now calls all to come and He calls us to His kind of hospitality. We have done this and this is His party and this is who He wants to come—the one who feels as unwanted as He did when He came to us. So we open the door and say come and celebrate with those He came for …
6. Give a Talent Show
Give the only gift we ever can really give, the gift of ourselves, by offering a little Christmas Day Talent Show. A crazy little tap dance—and everyone laughs—and she joins him—and everyone howls. What can you give of yourself to offer to Jesus, your family, on Christmas morning? Write a poem? Compose a song? Script a little play?
7. Join all of Creation
We spend hours outdoors on Christmas day, joining all of Creation and the heavenly throng in giving Him praise. We walk through the bush and sing Christmas carols, we go sledding down the back hills, we play in the snow, and we laugh. We’ve decorated trees outside with treats, strings of popcorn and cranberry, suet and peanut butter and, if the conditions are right, it’s the one day of the year that we pour maple syrup over snow and eat taffy—we taste and see that the Lord is good!
8. Tell the Story
Over the years, we’ve told the Christmas story on Christmas morning, recounting each of the Jesse Tree ornaments on the tree, all awonder that since the beginning of time, He’s been coming to save us. We’ve told the story with cousins and kids getting dressed up and re-enacting it for us. With kids written-performed-directed puppet show, with blankets and spotlight and silhouettes. Old men have been Joseph and toddlers have been Mary and this is the story that we love to tell—to remember the gift who came.
9. Sing the Hallelujah Chorus
Sing it in the woods, on the streets, in a nursing home, a hospital hall, a prison lounge, around the piano with the family, for the next door neighbors, a shut in across town. We join the angels this day and we fill the world with the music of the Messiah here. Find a way, somewhere, to sing because isn’t this the day of all days, we need to sing?
10. Follow the Light
And come Christmas night, we follow the light and some years it’s outside in the woods, luminaries, candles in jars, lighting a path to a nativity scene and we sing worship in the deepening dark. And some windy years, its filling the house with candles and spending the last hours of Christmas day singing, “Glory, glory, glory, glory to God in the Highest!”
Ann Voskamp is a farmer’s wife, the home-educating mama to a half-dozen exuberant kids, and author of One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, a New York Times bestseller, and new this month, The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas. Named by Christianity Today as one of 50 women most shaping culture and the church today, she’s a writer for DaySpring, a speaker with Women of Faith, and a global advocate for needy children with Compassion International. Ann loses library books, usually has a sink full of soaking pots, and sees empty laundry baskets rarer than a blue moon.