I wrote about a plea for help from a family with no way to provide Christmas for their children. Question: How do you justify any Christmas where a child is surrounded by other children loaded with more toys than they can ever use? “Christmas is for others, but not for you?”

Christmas was never meant to be that way.

Christmas presents were meant to be symbolic of God’s gift of the Christ child. What Jesus has given to us; we pass on to others as our way of saying: “I love you in the name of Christ!  The challenge is to broaden our horizons and creatively give to those in need.

How did we get everything so mixed-up? How can we change? How can we recapture the Christ in Christmas? Our readers responded with lively and creative ways to remember the real reason for the season:

We have a handmade advent wreath that we decorate with fresh cut greenery from our yard and each week one member of our family lights the candle and reads the scripture. Then we all sing a carol and reflect on our day.

A friend gave my children a choice where they wanted a donation sent on their behalf for Christmas. She sent that organization a gift.

Other readers struggled to find creative ways to celebrate Christmas.

My Nativity scene is old–not fancy–but a reminder of what Christmas is all about. I decided to leave it  displayed on a table in my living room all through the year. 

I am a single parent with four teenagers so I’m always on the lookout for ways to de-commercialize Christmas. We have a “manger” and during the month of December whenever my children do or say something nice, they add a piece of straw. By Christmas Eve, Jesus has a soft place to lay his head. Also, we make a big deal about homemade presents.

Here are some other creative ideas I’ve received over the years.

“Together we make an advent wreath, share devotions each week and light the candles.  It’s fun and helps us reinforce the true meaning of the season.”

We were unable to sell our house. The children were young, and we barely had enough to eat. An advent candle brought home from Sunday School helped our family focus on the real meaning of Christmas. It was a tuna can filled with plastic holly and a red candle. A booklet was sent home with Bible verses for each day of Advent. The children read the day’s lesson and prayed together as a family. It was the best Christmas ever.

One church encouraged their congregation to give to others as they give to themselves.

Over the last 6 years our church collected a Christmas Eve offering that goes only to others in need. One year it was a church in Puerto Rico hit by a hurricane. Last year we collected over $70,000. The idea is to give the same amount to others that you spend for yourself. Last year was for our food ministry. 100% goes to a mission. 

The following response arrived just as I was finishing this column:

I was 11 or 12 when my dad and I were walking down an old logging road and came upon two kids, a boy and a girl, barefoot with thin coats, gathering wood for their stove in the small house nearby. Just before Christmas, mom and dad bought a bunch of groceries, shoes, socks, coats, other clothing, a doll for the girl, and a pocketknife for the boy. On Christmas eve, we climbed into our old Jeep truck and drove up to the house bringing the groceries and presents. The mother was overjoyed as were the kids. I remember sitting around the big pot-belly stove, and watching the kids open their presents and listening to the grown folks talk. I distinctly remember the boy sitting behind the stove using his knife to whittle on a piece of firewood and the girl sitting and caring for her doll. Looking back on that Christmas brings tears to my eyes, for it is the best Christmas I ever had. I yearn for that feeling every year.

Next week: Keep sending your ideas on how to celebrate a more generous Christmas with others. LarryDavies@PrayWithYou.org