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Question Of The Week: How Do I Help Single Parents Celebrate Christmas This Year?

Parenting //

There are those around you that are dreading Christmas and the buildup to it.

It’s easy to lose sight of this when you get caught up in the excitement of the season and the joy of celebrating the birth of our Savior. Merry Christmas! exclaim many Christians during this time of the year. Just thinking of Christmas can bring warm feelings and memories to the mind and heart.

That’s not the case with many struggling single parents. In your community (and probably inside your church), there are many single parent families that are barley surviving this Christmas. While a good number of them are struggling financially, many more are struggling emotionally. Some single parents will merely tolerate the holiday season this year.

For those you encounter who are divorcing or who are single parents, the words “Merry Christmas” equate to the words in the second chapter of James: “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed.” Now while that certainly sounds like a reasonable farewell, the text goes on to say that if a person says that to another, but does nothing about his physical needs, “what good is it?” (James 2:16 NIV). How can the person keep warm and have a full stomach if he or she has no resources?

The Christmas holidays can become an entire season to be endured for many single parents. So I ask you, when you say, “Merry Christmas,” what good is it if that is all you do? How is that bringing our Savior’s love to the hurting? Is that why Jesus left heaven, came to earth as a humble little baby and slept in a straw manger? Just so we could say “Merry Christmas”? Or so we could barely survive the holidays?

As a tiny little baby with tender skin, He couldn’t have been comfortable in that little manger. Can’t the rest of us be a little uncomfortable today to help each other get through the holidays? More than likely if you stopped to think about people who need support during the holidays many single parents will come to your mind.

In one church, the leaders of a DivorceCare for Kids group helped the children give their single parent a Christmas present. As one young mom was leaving the class, the leader said, “Now put that under your tree and don’t open it until Christmas.” To which the mom responded, “Don’t worry. It will probably be the only present under the tree for me.”

Christmas Gifts

Perhaps this year you can help children from divorced homes make two presents, one for each home. If possible make it something useful that the single parent can use. Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Christmas ornament for the tree
  • Jar of spiced tea
  • Christmas decorated container full of hot chocolate mix
  • Decorated zip loc bag of bath soaps. (You would need to have the several soaps available for the children to choose.)
  • Framed pictures of the children with the frames decorated with Christmas artwork

Some single parents will need help with providing gifts for their own children. Perhaps these families can be added to an Angel Tree.

Suggest new traditions single parents can adopt into their newly formed family

When my children were in elementary school, a friend gave me a great idea. We used this until my children were grown. Each year for Christmas I gave them their very own two-liter bottle of soda or punch along with their very own favorite bag of chips. They didn’t have to share these items and could take them to their rooms if they wanted. This became an important tradition for my children, and they looked forward to their special treat each year.

Find the single parents who will be alone this Christmas

Another suggestion is to keep your eyes and ears open to find single parents who will spend Christmas day alone. I have been in this situation, and it is so lonely to be completely by yourself. I couldn’t force myself to ask others if I could spend the day with them. It would have been nice just to know I was invited to spend time with a family in my church.

I hope this will get you started thinking about Christmas for the single parent families in your church.

Some of the above information appeared in the Surviving the Holidays:  Celebrating Christmas in Single Parent Homes. You can read the entire article and print it out for the single parents in your church.

What are you doing for the children of divorce and the single parents in your church this year?

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About the Author

Linda has been a children’s ministry director, developed DC4K (DivorceCare for Kids, dc4k.org), operated a therapeutic child care, and has extensive experience at successfully accommodating challenging behaviors. She currently serves as the DC4K Ambassador and Professional blogger at http://blog.dc4k.org.