Crazy Christmas Customs

Silent. Calm. Bright.

Those words don't describe the nights before Christmas in the typical pastor's home. Frantic, frazzled and fatherless would be more appropriate! Parties, concerts and extra services that keep the pastor out beyond his regular hours can easily result in less-than-jolly feelings in the parsonage.

Since it's unlikely that the pattern of pre-Christmas church activities will change, why not change the way you go into the holidays? Some craziness added to the family calendar early on might win your kids' hearts and compensate for the times you'll be away.

Why not change the way you go into the holidays?

  1. On the first Friday or Saturday night in December, surprise the kids with a camp-out in the family room next to the Christmas tree. Roll out the sleeping bags. Light a fire in the fireplace and sing carols. Decorate the tree, pop popcorn and watch old family videos.
  2. Pick up the kids from school one afternoon and give them each a small gift-wrapped box. (Inside each box, you'll have to put a crisp $5 bill, instructions to the Pastor's Family Shopping Spree and the name of a family member.) Head to a local thrift store (that benefits a worthy cause) and allow them 15 minutes to select a gift for the name in their box. Wrap their selections in newspaper and present them that night after dinner.
  3. On the Friday night prior to the church Christmas play on Sunday, tell your kids just before bedtime that they have five minutes to get ready to go out. Put blindfolds on them and guide them to the car. Head to the church and put on a spontaneous Christmas drama using the sets and props. On the way home, stop at a 24-hour restaurant for pancakes.
  4. Buy or borrow a Polaroid camera. Some afternoon in December, let the kids unwrap it. Announce you are going on a Christmas Road Rally. Using the church directory, map out people whose names are in the Christmas story (i.e., Mary, Joseph, Hays, Kings, Hills). Stop in front of each house, snap a picture, then leave the photo with a note. (For example, "Christmas wouldn't be the same without the Shepherds!")
  5. Make time for "Preach It, Dad!" Sunday. Pack a picnic basket, a portable stereo and a blanket, and bring them to church on a Sunday morning. When the service is over and the people have gone, spread your blanket on the floor and eat your lunch while cranking some Christmas carols. After eating, take turns behind the pulpit impersonating Dad's preaching. Using fingers, ask everyone else to score each performance. Stop for hot chocolate before going home.
  6. The Saturday morning before Christmas, wake everyone up at 6 a.m. and gather around the Christmas tree in pajamas and bathrobes. Invite the kids to tell the Christmas story from memory, while you insert sound effects. On poster board, write an original Christmas song. (For example, begin with "Christmastime, Christmastime, I love Daddy here ..." to the tune of "Jingle Bells.") Let the kids open one gift each. Then hop in the car (in your jammies) and head to the McDonald's drive-thru for breakfast.

Stop dreaming of a white Christmas. Instead, start scheming a fun one that will create traditions and unique memories for your family.

Taken from the Pastor's Family Edition of
Focus on the Family magazine, December 2000.
Article copyright © 2000, Greg Asimakoupoulos.
All rights reserved. International copyright secured.
Used by permission.

Greg Asimakoupoulos is currently the senior pastor of Mercer Island Covenant Church in suburban Seattle. He has spent nearly 20 years as a local church pastor in Washington, California and Illinois. From 1997 to 2002, he was also director of creative communication for Mainstay Ministries in Wheaton, Ill. Since then, he has pursued a ministry of writing, speaking and broadcasting. He has been married to his wife, Wendy, for over 20 years. They have three young adult daughters: Kristin, Allison and Lauren.