Christmas is always an occasion that many families look forward to. But sometimes, we get to the point when we wonder how else we can celebrate Christmas more meaningfully or differently. Here are some suggestions that might be helpful for you as you plan for Christmas this year.
1. Invite a poor family to your home. Ask a family that you know to join you for Noche Buena or Christmas lunch, then give their child/children Christmas gifts. If your budget permits, give the parents gifts as well - it’s like welcoming the Holy Family into your home.
2. Organize a Christmas Day outreach. Bring your family to a charitable institution like CRIBS (a shelter for unwanted babies), Grace to be Born or He Cares Foundation (a foundation for street children) and bring gifts to the babies, kids, and mothers there. You can bring used clothes and toys or brand new items for them. This way, you’re like the wise men who offered gifts to the Baby Jesus in Bethlehem.
3. Distribute food on the streets. On the day before Christmas, pack Noche Buena items or grocery items in plastic bags and tie them with colourful ribbons. Go around a poor neighbourhood or major roads where you usually see poor families living on the streets and give one plastic to each family. That way, you give them a chance to celebrate Noche Buena with their families.
4. Attend Simbang Gabi Masses with the entire family. Or better yet, have an active participation by volunteering to serve or joining the offertory procession and offering candles, wine, host, a fruit basket or grocery basket or cash. If your family is musically-gifted, you may volunteer to join the choir. If you are skilled in reading, you can be lectors or commentators.
5. Put up a different kind of manger for the Baby Jesus in your home. Instead of filling the manger with hay or dry grass, cut strips of colored paper. Every time a family member does a good deed to anyone, he/she can write on the strip of paper the good he/she has done and he/she can put it in the manger. The more good deeds done by each member of the family throughout the Advent Season, the more colored strips of paper there will be for the Baby Jesus’ manger. Then, have the Baby Jesus lie down on the manager on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. This way, you help all the members of your family prepare your hearts to receive the Christ Child.