This time of year families are preparing and waiting for Christmas. For Unitarian Universalists the birth of the baby Jesus symbolizes the joy that a new baby brings. In the words of Unitarian Universalist, Sophia Lyons Fahs, “Each Night a Child is Born is a Holy Night.” An Advent Calendar is a popular ritual that families observe to count the days until Christmas. Some are simple paper calendars with flaps that open, others are more elaborate with chocolate surprises or an ornament to decorate a tiny tree. A simple way to count the days until Christmas is to make a paper chain and remove a link each day. Waiting to open a door or remove a link on the chain each day help children practice patience as the holiday approaches. Another Advent ritual is to observe the four Sundays before Christmas. On each of the four Sundays a candle is lit and reflection is encouraged on 1) Hope, 2) Joy, 3) Peace and 4) Love. My hope is that everyone can take the time during this busy season to reflect with their family and friends on the hope they have for our World, the joys in their lives, savoring moments of peace or working to bring peace and the Love they experience and share with others.

A Family Ritual. Express your wishes for joy, love, peace and hope for the season at a dinner time chalice lighting. You might start a family practice of lighting a dinner-time chalice each evening as Christmas draws closer. Find seasonal chalice-lighting words by searching the UUA Worship Web, keywords “Christmas Eve.”


  • Christmas Makes Me Think by Tony Medina, 2008. A young narrator anticipates the presents he’s wishing for, the big tree he’s hoping to get, the cake he’ll bake with his grandmother. But he begins to wonder. What about the people who don’t get presents, or don’t even have a place to live?
  • Llama, Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney, 2010. If there’s one thing Llama Llama doesn’t like, it’s waiting. He and Mama Llama rush around, shopping for presents, baking cookies, and decorating the tree . . . but how long is it until Christmas? “Gifts are nice, but there’s another: The true gift is, we have each other.”
  • Christmas in the Stable by Astrid Lindgren, 1998. As a young girl listens to her mother tell the story of the first Christmas, where else would she imagine the miracle taking place but in the stable and fields she knows so well?
  • On Christmas Eve by M. W. Brown, 1997. Unable to sleep on Christmas Eve, four children creep downstairs to see the tree.

A Family Discovery. The book Unplug the Christmas Machine: A Complete Guide to Putting Love and Joy Back into the Season, by Jo Robinson and Jean C. Staeheli, guides you to create a joyful, stress-free holiday season. The authors answer the questions they have heard most often in their many years of talking with people about Christmas, such as “How can I reduce the stress of preparing for Christmas?” and “How can I make our celebration more spiritual and less materialistic?”