‘Tis the Days After Christmas: Making the Most of Christmastide

The Days After Christmas - Christmastide

‘Twas the Day After Christmas

‘Twas the day after Christmas and all through the house
Every gift had been opened by sibling and spouse
The wrappings were gathered and stuffed in trash bags
The stockings all emptied and folded in stacks

When in slouched a child with a blank, empty stare
Exhaling a sigh as he fell in a chair
“So what’s with the glum?” Mother asked as she cleaned
And rolling his eyes he sighed and explained

“I’ve played every game and thrown every ball
“I’ve raced cars and planes up and down every hall
“I’ve built with the Legos and fought dinosaurs
“I’ve looked at the books, hidden sweaters in drawers”

“Yes, of course, I am thankful for all I received
“Yet down in my stomach I’m not feeling pleased
“Christmas day is amazing, exciting, and fun
“But what do I do now that Christmas is done?”

I’ll get back to the poem in a minute. First, let’s be honest. In a child’s world, one of the best things about Christmas is getting gifts. It was for me. As a kid, I eagerly anticipated the delight of Christmas morning finding the “Santa” gifts, dumping out my stocking, and opening presents from family and friends. The annual experience of gift-getting made Christmas the feel-good day of the year.

As a parent, I actually think there’s something to what I felt as a biblically-uninformed child. Sally and I enjoyed giving gifts to our children growing up because we wanted them to know that they were special, and worthy of our generosity. In that way, I think Christmas can be a small picture of God’s generous grace to us. After all, the Greek word for grace, charis, means a gift or favor given, and our heavenly Father has bestowed his grace on us with lavish generosity.

The downside of all the Christmas day gift getting, of course, is that children generally will not make that abstract connection between a new bike, game, or gadget, and God’s “new every morning” grace toward us. At least not immediately. Now that our children are grown, and walking with God on their own, they can see it and understand it. And that has made Christmas a unique and memorable day in our family lives. But we can do more than just give gifts.

We have always enjoyed the four weeks of Advent with its focus on the “anticipation” of Christ’s coming in stories, Bible readings, music, and symbolic traditions. On Christmas Eve, our annual “Shepherds Meal” is a rich family time together enjoying a special repast, reading Scripture, and reflecting on the incarnation of Christ. That’s good, because Christmas morning shifts into celebration, opening gifts, a special brunch, and serious relaxation. Each tradition is important in our family history and culture.

However, Christmas day is where many of us, as evangelical Christians, tend to stop. It’s build, build, build, BOOM!…and bust. Which brings me back to the poem. If we just slam the brakes on our Christmas season after the highs of Christmas day, it’s no wonder kids can feel shell shocked and exhausted like the little boy in the poem. What’s missing is a meaningful tradition to let all that’s been taken in come out in a way that reinforces the reality of Christmas, that God came to earth to be with us.

And there is a tradition for that—the twelve days of Christmas, also called Christmastide (usually Christmas Day up until Epiphany on January 6). Throughout church history, Christmastide has been a twelve day celebration after the roughly twenty-four days of anticipation in Advent. It has always been a kind of DIY holiday season, with different cultures in different times celebrating it in different ways. So you can make it your own family tradition to restore balance to your children after Christmas day, using those twelve days to focus on the reality of God being “with us” in our daily lives.

Below are the twelve days of Christmastide with a biblical truth assigned to each day. The idea is to have a theme and Scripture for each day, and a special project to reinforce the theme. I’ve added some suggested activities, but you can be creative to fill in the rest or make your own. I’ve also purposely left out the Scriptures so you can choose ones specifically for your family. Remind your children each day that you are still in the season of Christmas, and celebrating how Jesus came to be with us to make every day of our lives meaningful.

The Days After Christmas – Christmastide

December 25: Love – Have your children write out “Gifts of Service” they can give to everyone in the family. Be sure to include a date by when it will be fulfilled. Have each child design and color an attractive certificate.

December 26: Joy – Have a “Hidden Treasure” day. Everyone draws a family name at breakfast, wraps up a special treat for their recipient, hides it, and creates clues to find it during a special treasure hunting dessert night.

December 27: Peace – Declare today a “Media Free” day. Decide to turn off all TV, computers, tablets, and music. Have each child choose three non-media creative or special projects for the day. Talk about them that night.

December 28 Grace – Choose some families to give “Christmastide Cookies” to that day. Make the cookies together, and decorate them with “grace words” and fun faces to match (example: the word “Joy” with a happy face).

December 29: Hope – Make this a “Give Hope” day. Have everyone find good toys and nice clothes they are no longer using and are willing to give away. Make sure all the items are clean and take them to a local shelter.

December 30: Truth – Have a “Do the Truth” day. Decide on a family Scripture for the new year, and make a poster together to hang in a special pace. Also, have each child pick a “doing truth” verse and plan what to do.

December 31: Salvation – Have a “New Me” day. Have everyone chose a Bible story about Jesus they like best, and decide how they want to become more like Jesus in the story. Read the stories in a good Bible story book.

{Be creative and have some fun coming up with your own ideas to go along with the remaining days}

January 1: Assurance

January 2: Purpose

January 3: Redemption

January 4: Forgiveness

January 5: Adoption

Christmastide is a somewhat forgotten tradition in our “life goes on” modern America, but it can easily become a new family tradition. Maybe it can help turn the “tide” in your children’s Christmas celebration from the getting of things to the giving of themselves. That would be a wonderful Christmastide present to the Savior.

Clay Clarkson
Whole Heart Ministries

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  1. Oh I love this!!!! I wish you could have put up some Bible verses with it. I’m a tired mama and that would be a huge blessing. I need all the help I can get. Also if you ever do the rest of the days, I love to see them too. It is just to hard for me to put all of it together. I really like the ideas!! Thank you 🙂

  2. Hi could you please email me the rest of the poem? I am using this as part of a talk in church tomorrow (Sunday after Christmas) I think this can change lives and a real answer to a prayer for me. It says at the first of the article that you will get back to the poem but the rest of the poem is never shown.I am hoping you can just email it to me at donnynum1fan@gmail.com I would like to start or end my talk with it. I will give the credit to you of course. I really appreciate it. Thanks so much

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