Q. I have been talking with other moms and we all seemed to be stuck on how to teach our kids the true meaning of Christmas. We struggle with the candy canes, Santa Claus and presents to teach our kids it is all about Jesus' coming. Do you have any suggestions? (Originally ran December 2010)
A. This is very common question. Just Google "teaching kids true meaning of Christmas" and you will come up with many ideas and suggestions. I believe the answer starts with us as adults. We sometimes struggle to keep the perspective of this time of year on the true meaning of Christmas. How much more difficult then is it for children entangled by gifts, Santa, and parties to learn the true meaning of Christmas.
First, let's define the true meaning of Christmas. It is not about presents to buy or receive, or about fancy parties or events. These things are not bad in and of themselves, but rather need to be in the proper perspective. So what is a proper perspective? December or Advent is about being thankful for God's grace in our lives so much so that he sent his ONE and ONLY son to die on a cross for our sins. (John 3:16) That is wonderful grace! He didn't have to do it, but he sent his son as a baby only to save mankind, by dying on a cross. This time of year is to celebrate the Messiah's arrival on Earth and to thank our Lord for doing so.
The best gift is not an iPad, iPod, new cell phone, game, or toys, but it is knowing and desiring Jesus as their Lord and Savior.The hope for parents is that your children will know the greatest gift they can receive any time of year is eternal life in Heaven with Jesus.
So how do you do this? Here are some wonderful suggestions from other parents out there who are working hard to teach their kids the meaning of Christmas:
- Read Books about Christmas starting in December:
"What God Wants for Christmas" by Amy Bradford
"B is for Bethlehem" by Isabel Wilner and Elisa Kleven
"Who is Coming to Our House" by Joseph Slate and Ashley Wolffe
- Read the Birth of Christ of the Book of Luke several times
- Give to Others
You can sponsor a child in your own town and take kids shopping with you to buy the presents the sponsored child wants. Spend time talking to your child about how some kids do not have anything for Christmas. Also, pray with your child about the sponsored child you are buying gifts for. You can even do this with an international agency to send money to kids overseas. Have your kids do things around the house to make money to send. This is making them a part of the giving process.
- Attend a Christmas Eve Service as a family
- Have a Birthday Party for Jesus
Make a cake for Jesus and have your kids sing "Happy Birthday" to him. Spend your 'party' time talking about this is the time of year that Jesus was born. Jesus was born so that he could grow up and live a perfect life. He then gave his life for us, that we might live forever.
- Buy a nativity scene for children to play with" Click here for Little People Nativity
A year ago, a friend of mine did this with her son. He had learned the story of Christ's birth and knew something bad was going to happen to Jesus. He then decided that he would put Spiderman and Superman in the nativity scene to protect baby Jesus. This is a great example of a child who obviously felt a connection with the story of Jesus. So much so, he wanted to protect him. Having a nativity he can play with gave him that since of connection.
- For older children, take them to a soup kitchen or homeless shelter to let them see what poverty really looks like
- Ultimately, make sure your perspective is in the right place. Most likely, your kids will follow your lead.
*This column is not intended to substitute for an actual session with a licensed counselor.
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