The true meaning of Christmas is sometimes crowded out by the frenzy of buying and gift giving. Our children are assaulted on all sides by the secular version of Santa Clause and the TV commercials showing them the latest toys and games. How can we teach our children the true meaning of Christmas, without taking away all the secular revelry?
One way to do that is to celebrate Advent. Advent traditionally starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Eve. The four weeks leading up to Christmas Day is considered advent. Each week has special verses that lead to Christmas Day.
Explain to your child that the gift of the baby Jesus is why we celebrate Christmas and give gifts to others.
Keep an advent calendar and as each day goes by, celebrate that special day with a favorite Bible verse, or Christmas Carol. The countdown to Christmas is visible and the reason for Christmas is reinforced daily.
When Christmas cards begin arriving, make them into an Advent wreath and use your prayer time to pray for the senders of the cards. This can instill in a child the need to pray for others, and to thank God for the gift of friends and family.
Engage your whole family in an Advent service project. Collect money or food to give to local charities that see an increased need at this time. Call the Salvation Army for names of families who need “adopted” for the Holiday. Encourage your child to share their good fortune by giving a gift to a child who is needy. Let your child see you donate to a church’s gift giving project, or send a special package to a missionary family.
The nativity set is also an important part of Christmas traditions. Let your child help set it up and tell them stories about the animals as you set them out.
Have a craft time when all the family gets together to make a craft that will be a new ornament on the tree or a new Christmas decoration they will treasure from year to year.
Sing the Christmas carols with your children. The songs of Christmas that we grew up with are still out there for us to enjoy with our children. Take them as a group to sing carols in a nursing home. Let your child pick out a small gift to give to the grandmas and grandpas, help them to wrap it and make it special for them. Give them a sense of giving and the good feeling it provides.
On Christmas Eve, we conclude the celebration of the Advent season. Prepare a nativity play, or put on your own nativity scene complete with little angels and your family pets as part of the scenery.
Christmas Day is an important time to instill in your child the true meaning of Christmas. Start with a prayer of thanks for the most wonderful gift of all, and have each of them say a word of thanks for another family member. Instead of rushing to drag the gifts from under the tree, prayer and family time will help your child realize that Christmas is about the greatest gift of all. The birth of Jesus