Excerpted from "A Simple Christmas" with permission of Herald Press.

All too often we toss aside gorgeous greeting cards after one reading. Sometimes the children in a family never get to see them.

Here's a tradition that will help you enjoy cards and letters as a family. Place cards that arrive each day unopened in the center of an Advent wreath or bowl. After dinner every evening, each youngster can choose a card to be read aloud and passed around. Everybody can explain what the message means to him or her. Try to find a picture of the person or persons who sent the card to help younger children understand that cards do not simply come from the mail carrier. Encourage older children and adults to tell something pleasant about the sender or to reminisce about good times spent with the individual.

Finally, write the sender a note, telling something such as "Our family picked your card out of all our Christmas greetings, and we prayed for you today--that God would meet your every need and that your cup would overflow with happiness and Christmas joy."

Also, make addressing Christmas cards into a spiritual exercise. Have older children and adults say a prayer for each person as they copy addresses from the card list. Youngsters can stick stamps on envelopes and seal them. Short prayers can be something like this: "Father, heal Mindy's allergy." "Give Steve strength and a quick mind as he learns his new job." You can make petitions silently or aloud with each Christmas card you write.

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