Challenging Christmas traditions

Central Church of Christ

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Those family traditions are a beautiful treat this time of year.  Big festive meals, large dirty-Santa gift exchanges, and late-night fireside chats with multiple generations are gathering events that many of us look forward to every year.  Sadly, the year of 2020 has brought a halt to many of our family gatherings.  This week, I read the latest updates from Cookeville Regional Medical Center, and the latest news of hospitalizations and deaths mean that our 2020 traditions may need a temporary change.

The COVID-19 vaccines will arrive a little too late to give greater freedom for family gatherings, meaning that many of us will miss a valuable tradition this year.  Here in 2020, many people are finding a first as they are forgoing the annual office parties, family meals, and New Year’s Eve blowouts.  Our hearts break for families in this season, but we take solace in the tools God has granted to still stay connected, even though staying socially distant. If you can’t meet with family, friends, or coworkers this year in a large gathering setting, I want to share with you how our church meets every week on Zoom so your family can do the same.

Here is my step-by-step list of how you can host your own safe Zoom family and friends gathering this holiday season.

(1) Communicate (through text, email, or phone) with your family to decide on a family gathering time (i.e. Dec 24th at 5 p.m. CST). Make sure to include the time zone for family and friends that live farther away.

(2) Create a free Zoom account. (zoom.us) Only the gathering host needs a zoom account.  Participants can join the event without creating an account or downloading the software. Please note that free accounts limit gatherings to 40-minutes.  If you choose a paid account you can meet for hours at a time.

(3) Click the “Schedule a Meeting” tab after logging into the Zoom website, and fill in the appropriate information. Make sure to set a passcode that is easy to remember.  Click the “Save” button at the bottom when finished.

(4) Copy the Invite Link provided on the page, and send it to your family and friends in the group text or email.

(5) Send reminders the day before or morning of the event to all family members and friends. Emails are easy to forget!

(6)  Login and start the meeting on your decided day! For us, downloading the Zoom App or Software for hosting a meeting has proved easiest, so we recommend testing that out before the actual gathering.

 Topher’s Tips for getting the most out of your Zoom gathering.

  • Choose one person to be the “Moderator” for the Zoom meeting. It’s tough to understand others when Aunt Edna is talking over Uncle Herbert in real life. In Zoom, it’s worse when people are talking at the same time.  Ensure everyone gets time to share by choosing a moderator who is always “unmuted” and has microphone control to mute or unmute others.  Let Aunt Edna know in advance who has mic control.
  • Plan in advance for someone to give a musical performance or a Christmas reading. It warms our hearts to see a grandkid strum the guitar or one family to sing a Christmas carol. Remember, group singing with all families is laborious on Zoom due to the half second delay. But, if you want a laugh, try singing Jingle Bells all together anyway!
  • Play an easy Zoom game to enjoy with family. Some of the easiest are 20 Questions, Bingo, Trivia, Pictionary, and Charades. There are even some websites set up to facilitate Zoom games. Ask Uncle Google for more info.
  • Always include a prayer, thanking God for family past and present. Prayer works very well in Zoom and is a great way to end this non-traditional family gathering. Make sure to thank Him for the ability to meet on Zoom!

Neighbors, thank you for the care, concern, and kindness you have shown in our community during this pandemic.  However you choose to celebrate the birth of Christ this holiday season with family, it is our prayer that you do so in a way that demonstrates the most love for family, for community, and for Jesus himself!

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, of the love of Christ. – excerpt from Ephesians 3:14-19      

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