We’ve been doing a variation of the Christmas Countdown chain for years — since my sixteen-year-old was little. I don’t get to it every single year, but it is among my favorite Christmas traditions.
The variation is pretty simple. Instead of making a plain Christmas countdown chain, my kids and I make prayer chains. On each link, we write the name of one person each of us will pray for. As each child tears off a link from their chain at night, we (the child and I) pray together for that person. This gives us a unique way to say our bedtime prayers, pray for others, and countdown to Christmas all at the same time.
More than any other time of year, the month of December is a month we focus on what we can do for others. We buy gifts for the impoverished. We buy food for the food bank. We take cookies to our neighbors. And we pray for someone new every single night.
I let each child choose who they will pray for. Our lists are usually filled with the names of family members – extended family – and a few of our close friends. This year, my little boys also decided to include a few of our new neighbors. You could choose a theme, like praying for missionaries, or praying for families instead of individuals.
If a child is too little to write, I write the name for them. If a child is learning to spell, I spell the name for them on a separate piece of paper and allow them to copy the name themselves. We use red and green construction paper with gold and silver Sharpie pens. We put two staples on each ring of the chain, or one year we used scrapbooking stickies to connect the links.
The entire process is quick and easy, but gives us a fun way to focus on prayer during the Christmas season. Praying together is something my boys look forward to every single night.