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How to Celebrate Christmas on a Sunday

I've come to the following conclusion: Christmas on Sunday is a double whammy of awesomeness.

I remember celebrating Christmas on Sunday when I was young. The thing I remember most is that I thought it was novel (and beyond exciting) that we only had to go to one church meeting. (I must admit: I still find it exciting.) Other than that, Christmas on Sunday generally seemed a little less thrilling and more subdued—and when you look forward to that day all year long, subdued is not what you really want.

As I've thought about the circumstances of Christmas this year, though, I can honestly say I'm thrilled to be celebrating Christmas on Sunday. I won't be as tempted to sit lounging in pajamas all day in a post-present, post-food stupor. Instead, I will have good reason to pull myself away from my own sphere, worship the Savior in word and song with other believers, and continue to really consider Him all day long. (I can now appreciate why Catholics, and other religions, attend meetings right before or on Christmas—it's a wonderful way to remember what the day is for.)

So, unlike Halloween on a Sunday, Christmas on a Sunday seems to fit perfectly. The day can, I think, augment the holiday even more. After all, what better way to honor the Savior's birth and life than by celebrating it in a Sabbath fashion?

That said, this year's celebration will likely see a few alterations among LDS families. Here are a couple different ideas to still celebrate the day and honor the Sabbath:

Do the big dinner on Christmas Eve. Yes, it might be a break in tradition for your family not to have it on Christmas Day. But allow me to share one of my favorite quotes about tradition, from Lloyd Newell (announcer for Music and the Spoken Word): "What may have worked last time, what may have worked 20 years ago, may no longer be the best tradition for a dynamic family unit. Adjusting traditions and not just doing 'what’s always been done' is good for families."

Before I read this a few years ago, I was a "tradition or nothing" kind of person; things HAD to be done the way they had always been done. But once I read this, I realized: we aren't made for traditions; they're made for us. And when they don't work, it's silly to compromise ourselves (or our sanity) in order to keep them. So this year, think about what traditions might not fit for a Sunday observance, such as the big dinner. Or a Christmas Day movie. Or the polar bear swim. And do something new.

Give "thank you" cards as stocking stuffers and gently encourage your family to use the down time of the Sabbath to write heartfelt thank you's to those who gave them gifts. This Sabbath activity sometimes gets overlooked, but writing letters (especially letters of gratitude) is a great way to spend time on this special day.

Sometime during the day, conduct a "silent lesson" about Christ's birth with your family. (Click here for the lesson material.) I remember having this lesson years ago in Young Women, and I still remember it as a special, testimony-building experience. This is a lesson that explores the Savior's birth, but due to its reverence, allows for extra introspection and thought. If you have younger children (and since this lesson works better for teenagers and up), consider acting out the nativity with our "Kid-friendly Nativity Script."

One final note: Many of my family's traditions will still work with a Sunday Christmas, and I'm sure yours will, too. But the attitude of a Sunday seems to fit Christmas in such a way that I can only think about this year's holiday with added anticipation. The spirit of worship will make the day even more special—and I'm sure on that day, as now, I'll wonder why I never thought to celebrate Christmas that way before.

What traditions, if any, will you be changing for this year's Sunday Christmas?