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How Do You Feel About Christmas? 3 

How Con Christmas Strengthen Family Life? 4 

What Are Some Traditions Which 

Strengthen Family Ties? 5 

What is the True Value of Christmas Gifts? 6 

How Does the Family Plan for Christmas? 8 

What Do You Really Want for Christmas? 9 

Christmas Worship Service 10 

Let's Make Christmas Christian 11 

^^"L' r 

Prepared by: 

G>rrine G. English, Family Relations Specialist 

Published By 


North Carolina State College of Agriculture and Engineering of the Univer- 
sity of North Caroline and the U. S. Deportment of Agriculture, Cooperating. 
State College Stotion, Raleigh, N. C, R W Shoffner, Director. Distributed 
in furtherance of the Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914. 

November, 1961 

Misc. Phamphlet No. 171 


As the Christmas season ap- 
proaches, we can sense a changed 
attitude in people. The three most 
often expressed wishes — "Merry 
Cliristmas", "Happy Christmas", 
"Joyous Christmas" — seem to fill 
the world with a sort of kindness and 
happiness, but we realize there are 
as many attitudes toward Christmas 
as there are people! If you answer 
automatically to any one of the three 
Christmas wishes, "Same to you", 
you don't have to stop and think 
very deeply about it. The way a per- 
son feels about Christmas tells a 
great deal about that person! How do 
you feel about Christmas? 

Some people say "Christmas is 
really for children." The matchless 
story of the babe in a manger, the 
angels' song, the shepherds, the 
Wise Men — holds a natural appeal 
for a child. Often we who have gone 
further on life's journey turn to a 
child's faith and wonder to keep the 
Christmas spirit alive in our own 
hearts. But, Christmas isn't ;«s/ 

for children it is for everyone. 

It is a special time to help us renew 
our faith. 

Of course there are many people 
who would just as soon skip the 
whole season! They go through all 
the motions, but it's a chore to them. 
The mad rush exhausts many a seller 
and buyer. They complain so much 
that there is no joyous or happy spirit 
apparent. For others, the season 
brings to the surface old memories, 
and they wish they could get away 
from the happiness and joy that only 
make their personal grief and sadness 
more poignant. For some, this hap- 
piest of seasons emphasizes their 
despair, their failures, their weak- 
nesses and temptations to "take 

some other way out" overwhelm them. 
Alcoholism and suicide rates rise 
markedly during the holidays. 

This season could be a time of 
renewing family ties. A family Christ- 
mas gives one a feeling of belonging, 
of being loved, of the worthwhileness 
of life. 


Because Christmas is die birthday 
of the Christ Child, it liolds a special 
meaning for the family. Christmas 

started with a baby in a manger the 

Christ of History but Christmas is 

kept alive when the Christ of History 
becomes for eacli person, the Christ 
of Experience. As families try to keep 
Christmas, they are reminding the 
world that Clirist is a part of their 
lives today — not just a fact of his- 
tory. As they offer their gifts of faith, 
hope and love, they are putting into 
practice this thought 

"Not only at Christmas, 
But all the year through 
J he joy you give to others 
Is the joy that comes to you. 

The road to Bethlehem runs right 


the homes of folks like me and you!" 

Christian parents are becoming 
increasingly concerned over the need 
for making faitli a family affair — of 
living day by day the religion they 
profess. Family traditions at Christ- 
mas time may include die tree, Santa 
Claus, gifts, cards, the big family 

dinner but Christmas offers a rare 

opportunity to emphasize the spiritual 
more than the material values of the 
holiday season. Someone has said 
that Christmas can be a "hoUowday" 
if we do not place emphasis on the 
true meaning of die season rather than 
on the festive holiday. 

o V r~ 


Of course the time— honored tra- 
dition for the family inspiration is 
quite simply that of attending church 
together. If one's church has a spe- 
cial Christmas service, family at- 
tendance cannot be replaced by any 
other experience. Next best, and in 
addition, is a simple worship service 
at home, a tradition more and more 
families are establishing, and one 
tt hich can mean a great deal to every 
member of the family from the baby to 
the elderly shut— ins. 

There are beautiful Christmas 
devotionals for the family; there 
are Christmas carols that carry a 
message all their own; there are the 
wonderful stories of the first Christ- 
mas in Matthew and Luke. Families 
have various plans for Christmas Eve 
and Christmas Day, but when a spe- 
cial worship service becomes part of 
t\te Christmas tradition, the family 
lias put first things first, and 
strengthened its ties. 

One family starts twelve days 
before Christmas, reading a verse 
or two of the Nativity story each 
day, and letting a child add a figure 
to the manger scene which they al- 
ways place under the Christmas tree. 
The figure of Mary is placed first. 

then Joseph, then the Baby, the 

animals, the shepherds, and the 

Wise Men are all added until the 
scene is complete. 

While the Bible story will always 
come first, the Christmas carols be- 
come a part of the family's traditional 
celebration of Christmas. Many fami- 
lies enjoy gathering around the piano; 
others sing without accompaniment; 
and others have recordings of the 
carols to which they can listen. In 
addition to the Matthew and Luke 
accounts of the Nativity, there are 
Christmas classics that families 
always read during the season — 
Dicken's "Christmas Carol," and 
Van Dyke's "The Other Wise Man," 
have become a part of the Christmas 
celebration in many homes. There is 
something intangible but very valua- 
ble added when a member of the family 
reads a well— loved story, but if that 
isn't possible, there are masterful 
recordings to which we can listen. 

"Rudolph, the Red Nosed Rein- 
deer" is familiar to most of us, but 
"we wouldn't want to mrss the thrill 
of the "Hallehujah Chorus", so the 
family, in this era of the T. V. and 
radio, has an opportunity to add to 
its traditions — not to do away with 


Christmas gifts can be a burden 
or a lot of fun. More and more fami- 
lies are making their gifts. Sometimes 
this is to help the budget some- 
times not but the resulting joy of 

creative activity and the feeling of 
togetherness that comes from doing 
things as a group, are a very definite 

reward. One family made its own 
Christmas cards, and each person 
who received one of the cards ap- 
preciated the trouble and time and 
thought that had been spent to send 
that greeting. Other families enjoy 
making tree ornaments, decorations 
for the table, for the mantle and for 
the windows. It's fun for members of 
the family to get the tree as part of 
a family outing, whether they go to 
the woods and cut it down or have to 
select and buy it. The pleasure of 
working together is the main idea. 

Here are four excellent ideas for 
gifts that cost "only time". 

1. Copies of favorite recipes, in- 
cluding variations and short cuts, 
can be made into small scrap- 
books, tied into small packages of 
file cards, or placed on the back 
of Christmas cards. 

2. Prized seed and bulbs, carefully 
selected and saved, make ideal 
gifts for a flower— loving friend or 
relative. Seed packets can be 
made from old Christmas cards 
and colored gummed tape, and 
carefully labelled. Bulbs can be 
carefully packed in small cookie 
boxes or old egg cartons, covered 
with gay wrapping paper. In- 
structions as to necessary plan- 
ning precautions can be enclosed. 

3. For "career women" who haven't 
time to make cakes, pies or hot 
rolls, one woman sent this verse 
wrapped in a small box. with the 
fanciest of wrappings. 

"I know how hard it is to cook and scrub and bake, 
To sew and iron and sweep and have the bed to make 
Knowing this first hand, my friend, my gift to you this year 
Is to share my leisure time to lift your morale my dear! 
So on every Wednesday that's the fourth one down the line 
You can expect some sweetness from this ol' oven o' mine. 
Merry Christmas the year through!" 

4. One group of gifts can be certificates of service. 







of baby 



Meal Ticket 

A week's meals for 

while his wife is away 

Home P 





get the 







! You can 

set the d 



Of course the secret of a success- 
ful family Christmas is to make plans 
together, and far enough ahead of 
time to avoid the last minute rush 
and hurry. 

With adolescents, things must be 
done with, and not for them! It is 
necessary to use skill and a delib- 
erate casualness as plans are made 

for the family group. No one person 

mother, father, young person — sliould 
do all the planning for the family, 
but each person should have a share 
in discussing the giving of gifts and 

the social activities of the holidays. 
This results in a "togetherness" 
which strengthens family ties. Pre — 

Christmas planning long weeks of 

talking over plans, working on pro- 
jects adds to the joy of family liv- 
ing. Many parents find that a pre — 
Christmas outing with each child 
separately — a shopping expedition, 
secrets shared — is a Christmas tra- 
dition that means a great deal all 
through the years, and imparts the 
true spirit of sharing oneself without 


If the anticipation of Christmas 
worries you, aren't you missing the 
real point of this happy season? Stop 
ri^t now and ask yourself, "What do 
I want for Christmas?" 

i. / want this Christmas to be dif- 

I will not get so rushed doing 
outside things that I haven't time for 
my home and children. I know that my 
disposition sets the climate for my 
home, and if I am short— tempered, 
tired, impatient, my family will not 
have a happy holiday. I want to stay 
serene and liappy this Christmas. 

1. I want to feel the true Christmas 

My gift list will represent giving 
myself, rather than just "paying 
back" someone who remembers me 

with a gift! This will mean that I can 
enjoy giving Christmas gifts instead 
of thinking of them as a duty and a 

3. / want time. 

Someone has said that each per- 
son "spends" his allotted time by 
doing die things that seem most ur- 
gent to him. I am going to enjoy this 
Christmas season for weeks ahead — 
and long afterward — by filling each 
minute with tasks that help me share 
myself with those I love. 

4. / want to "recharge" the batteries 
of my faith. 

I will keep Christ as the main 
figure in this celebration of His birth- 
day, and renew my faith, courage, 
and hope for the year ahead. 



The Gospel of Mattheu - Chapter 2:1-12 

The Gospel of Luke — Cliapter 2:8—20 

A Christmas Carol, by Ciiarles Dickens 

A Birds' Christmas Carol, by Kate Douglas Wiggins 

The Other \Mse Man, by Henry Van Dyke 

The Gift of the S\agi, by O'llenry 

Christmas Everywhere, by Phillips Brooks 

The Christmas Hook of Legends and Stories, by Smith and Hazeltinie 

Y ule—tide in Many Lands, by Mary L. Pringle 

The Night Before Christmas, By Clement C. Moore 


(The church of your choice will have Fam- 
ily Worship Services available for you to 

On Christmas Eve you may want to use 
this Christmas Light service, adapted 
from a service by Catherine Marshall. 

LEADER: "The people that walked in 
darkness have seen a great light: they that 
dwell in the land of the shadow of death, 
upon them hath the light shined."— Isaiah 


(As one of the children lights the candles, he can say:) 

"Dear God, 'twas Thou didst light the stars; 

Like candles in the night. 

And Thou didst send Lord Jesus down 

To give the whole world light." 
(Lou Lillian Piper — from 'The Hymnal for Boys and Girls') 

MOTHER reads Luke 2: 8-20. 

THE FAMILY sings a favorite Christmas carol, perhaps "Silent Night." 

FATHER reads Matthew 2: 1-12. 

As another child turns on the lights of the Christmas tree, the LEADER 
reads this prayer of Peter Marshall: 

"As we light this tree, may it remind us of the Light that came into 
the world — the Light which the world could not master or ever put 
out - the Light that shone in the face and in the spirit of Jesus Christ, 
Whose birth we celebrate. 

"May the spirit of Christmas that softens our hearts and kindles our 
love, linger with us throughout the year. 

"As the spell, the beauty and the mystery of this holy season steal 
into our hearts and our homes, may they remind us of the angels' song 
and the message they sang, the message our torn and troubled world 
needs so much. 

"Because of His great love for all men, may we be given grace to 
love Him more, that we might learn how to love one another. 

"So may our hearts and minds express, this Christmas, a spirit that 
will please and honor Him, and make the angels rejoice that men have 
not forgotten the song they sang, nor human hearts surrendered the hope 
they brought. 

"May the wise men of the West be willing to follow the wise men of 
the East, in coming to Him Who is the Prince of Peace, that being in 
right relations with God, each of us may then establish right relations 
with our fellow men. 

"God bless us every one, dirough Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen." 



\X e have mixed materialism with the mercy of God in such 
a way that the real meaning of the Christmas customs and sym- 
bols have been lost to most of us. 

Take the word, CAROL. A carol is a song 
inspired by joy. "Noel" we sing! This 
means news, the good news of the birth of 
Christ. Christmas carols are the songs 

celebrating the good news — tlie gospel 

to mankind. 

The gay WREATH we hang on the door or 
in the window at Christmas time tells of 
the love of God. As the wreath has no be- 
ginning — no ending — so the love of God 
goes on endlessly. 

Christmas HOLLY, reminds us of the crown 
of thorns Christ wore — with the red ber- 
ries a symbol of drops of blood. 

The very Christmas TREE — the evergreen 
is symbolic of the love of God that is ever 
fresh and vital. The star at its top recalls 
the Star in the East tliat appeared on that 
first Christmas night. 

The Christmas CANDLE tells us of the 
Christmas Ciirist who is the light of the 
world. As a candle burns it gives light, 
and at the same time it is giving itself. 

Even SANTA CLALS is a symbol of the 
good will, the kindness, the generosity 
that are typical of this happy season. San- 
ta Claus is our name for good Saint Nich- 
olas who lived in Asia Minor 300 years 
before Christ was born. He was so kind to 
little children that we associate him with 
the spirit of Christmas giving. 



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