Dolls. Cars. Bikes. Skates. Video Games. Clothes. Bring on the Christmas trees, decorate the stockings, hang the lights, and bake the cookies. All these things are a part of the scenery that little children take in and look forward to during the Christmas holiday season. They watch the commercials on TV and see the newest technological gadgets in the store, or hear their friends bragging about the latest and greatest this or that, and they want it too. As parents, we run around attempting to make their merriest dreams come true.
We fill their stockings with little trinkets, charms, and goodies to make their eyes grow wide and round. We carefully wrap their gifts in beautiful paper with decorative bows, and place them under our tinseled, garland-wrapped, brilliantly-lit trees for them to open on Christmas day. We bake cookies with them and set them out in a place that Santa will not miss. Our children sing the songs and hope and pray that Santa will forget the naughty things they have done all year long in exchange for the good deeds that they have committed in the last couple of weeks. Our eyes twinkle because we hold a secret they don’t know. Our love will allow us to give them their heart’s desire as long as our pockets can afford it.
With all that we go through to prepare the children for the season, how much have we really prepared them? What have we taught them about the season? What have we taught them about our Savior? Is their entire expectation and understanding of the season built around society’s marketing ploy to amass as many dollars as possible?
Children are easily impressionable and what we teach them at an early age will carry them through a lifetime. Those values that we impress upon them will shape their views and expected outcomes for their future. Teaching them that the season is not a simple focus geared towards buying gifts and presents, but so much more; it empowers them to become a blessing. Helping them understand that this is the season we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, gives them the true meaning of why we desire to give.
We have received the greatest gift of all in not only His birth, but also His death and redemption. This greatest of all gifts is incomparable, and our gifts to others as we attempt to bless them can never measure up. However, we can teach our little ones to have an open heart, one that desires to bless the way that we have been blessed. For everything that we have received in this life is given to us by the Ultimate Giver.
Bible stories, coloring books, and story books are simple ways to educate your little one on the meaning of Christmas. I believe it is never too early to begin shaping their minds about the purpose of the season. Allowing little ones to participate in Christmas programs enables them to understand and experience the truth on a different level.
When my children were toddlers, I attended church sporadically. By the time they began attending primary school, we were attending church regularly and I had a relationship with the Lord.
However, the difference in how my husband and I have viewed Christmas before and after salvation has not changed much at all. Our views had already been shaped by our family from our early years. Although we were not attending church much when my children were little, as a writer, I wrote little plays for them to perform on Christmas Eve at home. These plays were performed by our three children as a means to teach them about the true meaning of Christmas.
My daughter would drag her dolls and animals out to assign them a part in the play. She would always be Mary, her oldest brother was the narrator, and she would “allow” her baby brother to be Joseph. Whatever favorite doll held her heart at the time was assigned the part of “baby Jesus.” The stuffed animals would play the parts of the shepherds or the animals. My children adored this time of year and the play, even if their small audience were comprised only of their father and myself.
Those little experiences taught them life-long lessons about the true meaning of Christmas and worshiping our Savior. Now in their early and mid-teens, and the oldest in his early twenties, they understand the true meaning of Christmas. They are thankful for the gifts they receive, and anticipate receiving them each year. However, they also understand the most precious gift they have been given that no amount of money could ever buy.
Incorporating an understanding of these lessons in our children begins when they are very young. And while they may not be able to grasp a complete understanding of the concept of our Savior, they can be taught the basics. Giving them the building blocks now can fortify them for the years to come as you add knowledge each year. Teach them the lessons about the true meaning of Christmas in a way that is fun and easy to comprehend for them. Whether those lessons are through storybooks, music, art, or drama is up to you and whatever method your young child understands most. Just ensure that you do give them this valuable understanding.
Other ways to teach a young child about the meaning of Christmas can be shown through expressions of love and giving. Allow your young child to gather gently used toys or clothing to be given away as donations to those in need. You may want to participate in an adopt-a-family program at your child’s daycare, school, or at church. In this manner, they are able to give to someone in need.
Encourage them when they are of a certain age to volunteer to work at a homeless shelter, or to serve food to the homeless at community churches. Continual servanthood in your everyday life will prepare them for the greater lesson when the Christmas season is upon them. It makes it easier than just springing upon them an attitude of gratitude at the last moment.
What methods do you plan to implement to teach your child about the true meaning of Christmas? If you currently do so, or have done so in the past, share your ideas with our readers by leaving a comment. Someone just may be looking for suggestions.
“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” – Isaiah 11:1
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