Those of us that celebrate Christmas have been accused of focusing more on the material than the spiritual. Images of people trampling others at Black Friday sales come to mind. Fortunately, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we understand that this is a season of giving true gifts rather than material gifts, of focusing on others rather than on ourselves, and of acting as Christ would act as he gave His gifts.
The Christmas call home is the highlight of the holidays for both missionaries and those supporting them. Preparation can make this precious communication smooth and enjoyable.
In cases where many family members want to share their love and Christmas wishes, set a short time to have the whole family together. As calls are short, the chaotic nature of many people involved can use up a lot of time. Put the focus on one-on-one time with parents, and if possible, some time with each sibling or relative present.
As one of only two opportunities for live communication on the mission, take the time to review with your missionary milestones of the year. New baby? Update. New home? Update. New church calling? Yes, update. Spiritual milestones for family members, like baptisms, blessings, and ordinances performed, are strong testimony builders for missionaries in the field.
When preparing for your missionary’s call home, ask in advance what they want from the call. Some missionaries may want local news, others may want an update on specific friends, some may want to sit in on holiday traditions. Specific topics of discussion, or things they want to see on a video call, can help you serve your missionary best. Also, review your own expectations for the call and understand they may not be met under pressure of time and technology constraints.
Address call logistics in letters before the call as well. If phone call only, provide a landline number to prevent dropped calls or reception issues. With skype or another video calling software you may be unfamiliar with, test out the functions beforehand to limit technical difficulties. Ask your missionary for guidelines given by leadership for the call, and whatever contact information you will need to reach them. Also, select a location to take the call. Decide on a place in your home or office with little sound/visual interference and good quality phone lines or internet connectivity.
Encourage your missionary to prepare their Christmas message in advance for family. Tears may happen, and that excitement can send all plans right off the rails. Have the little ones, and other members of family, prepare messages beforehand. This can be especially useful for those who struggle expressing emotions out loud, and if anything in these messages is missed, these prepared messages can join letters in the mail to ensure your missionary has meaningful contact with all family members.