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
G>rrine G. English, Family Relations Specialist
THE NORTH CAROLINA AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION SERVICE
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.
Misc. Phamphlet No. 171
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT
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
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
HOW CAN CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS
STRENGTHEN FAMILY 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~
WHAT ARE SOME TRADITIONS WHICH
STRENGTHEN FAMILY TIES?
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
WHAT IS THE TRUE VALUE OF
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.
A week's meals for
while his wife is away
! You can
set the d
HOW DOES THE FAMILY PLAN
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
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
WHAT DO YOU REALLY WANT
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.
^ SUGGESTED BOOKS FOR
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
CHRISTMAS WORSHIP SERVICE
(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
"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."
LETS MAKE CHRISTMAS CHRISTIAN
\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
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.
STATE LIBRARY OF NORTH CAROLINA
3 3091 00747 2418