Award winning novelist Heidi Chiavaroli writes women’s fiction, combining her love of history and literature to write time-slip stories. In The Orchard House, her upcoming new release, family is a central focus of the story. Christmas can be a great time to create new family memories. Heidi shared a list of some of her favorite family Christmas activities. Read what she shared below and see if you have any of these favorite traditions in common.
The beauty of the Christmas season has captivated me since I was a little girl. Now, as an adult with my own family, in some ways it enthralls me even more. The mystery of it all is that the time leading up to Christmas proves just as special as Christmas Day. It’s a season filled with an extra measure of joy and peace, a reminder of a tender babe born to be the Savior of all people. Here are a few fun family activities I enjoy during this season.
1. Scrumptious goodies
To those who know me well, it’s not any surprise I’d start with food! I’m pretty good at eating healthy most of the year, but Christmas is definitely a reason to do a bit of splurging. Some of my favorite treats are chocolate turtles, chocolate peanut butter balls (great for snacking on while decorating the tree!) and Paris puffins, a family favorite that’s part doughnut, part muffin and much enjoyed by all on Christmas morning. Before my in-laws moved South, we participated in the Feast of the Seven Fishes, an Italian-American tradition celebrated Christmas Eve by eating seven different kinds of seafood. From New England clam chowder to seafood casserole and lobster, everything about this special dinner—at least to me—says yum.
2. Family movie night
It’s a Wonderful Life is my all-time favorite movie, and even my kids love watching this old black-and-white treasure. I also love to visit the 1994 Little Women film (the one with Winona Ryder) during this season, reveling in the joys and sorrows and generosity of the March family. Other favorites of our family include Home Alone, The Santa Clause, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and The Muppet Christmas Carol. Of course, I’m always up for the occasional Hallmark holiday romance as well!
3. A visit to La Salette
La Salette Shrine is located a few towns over from me and celebrates a festival of lights, adorning their grounds with thousands of lights, a life-size nativity, and beautiful displays commemorating the birth of Christ. There’s something sacred and holy about this place that reminds me what this season is truly about. Our family takes an intentional break from the busyness of life, bundles up, and purchases steaming cups of hot chocolate as we walk the many acres of lights.
4. Surprise gifts
I have always been captivated by the idea of giving generously and anonymously to those in need. While this hasn’t always been possible in the past, it’s super fun to set some money aside and discuss with our kids how we will bless a certain family or individual during the season. Sometimes that’s packing boxes to send overseas. Sometimes it’s an anonymous card and gift given to a member of the community who is struggling; sometimes it’s volunteering at a soup kitchen or shelter; sometimes it’s purchasing a bunch of Subway gift cards and handing them out to those who make their homes on the streets in Boston. I think giving with no strings attached is a perfect way of reminding ourselves and others of the beauty of what Jesus has done for us (during the Christmas season and throughout the year!).
5. Christmas Eve candlelight service
If there is any hour or two that comes close to capturing the weighty majesty of Christmas for me, it’s Christmas Eve service. Again, it’s that sacred holiness. That peace and grace God seems to instill in this service that celebrates the fact that God himself has come down to be with us. Immanuel. Prince of Peace. Lord of lords. King of kings.
God with us.
Of course, what makes all these activities so very special is the people I do them with. Christmas is a perfect time to slow down, to rest in the work that God has done for us, to live in contentment, and express gratitude for those around us.
To all of you beautiful readers out there, merry Christmas!