Sunday, November 16, 2008

Kids, Christmas, Truth & Traditions

Christmas will soon be here! -- You're welcome :)

It's such a (forgive me here) magical time of year for most people. I have fond memories of special treats baking in the oven that sent luscious aroma throughout the house; the smell of the Christmas tree; the cold on my face; the snow as it glistened under the moonlight; and the Christmas gifts! Oh, my, the anticipation was almost more than I could bear! I'm sure you can add your own memories to my short list.

Playing the Santa "game" was fun but my parents also told me the truth and taught me the true meaning of Christmas early on.

Then . . . . I became a parent. I didn't want to lie to my child . . . so what do I do. Mindy at Ponderings of the Heart had a post that got me to thinking about all of this.

When my son was small and it was time to begin teaching him about Christmas, I prayed and asked the Lord to help me share the truth without taking away the fun of Christmas as we know it in America. Here's what I came up with:

To emphasize that this was Jesus' birthday, I wrapped a gift and put it under our Christmas tree. This was a gift for Jesus and our son opened it first (symbolizing giving Christ first place). I took gold wrapping paper, traced, cut out and pasted some items in the box (shirt box) then wrapped it up nice and pretty.

When our son opened the gift,
I explained what each item meant. Each one represented something that Jesus really wants from us.

There was:

1. A Heart: First and foremost, Jesus wants us to give Him our hearts, to ask forgiveness for our sins and accept Him as our Lord and Savior (explained according to the child's age).

2. Hands: We give ourselves to help others - reaching out to those in need.

3. A Hammer: We give Him our labors. (His Daddy was/is Senior Pastor.) Working in our church, witnessing, etc.

4. Check/money/debit card: We give him money as the Bible teaches so that the church will have what it needs to
minister to people, etc., etc.

We did this for a few years, until we were sure that he understood what Christmas was really about. Then we hung a small "Bible" at the very top of our tree that told of the Christmas story from the book of Luke. We let our son read the story to us and eventually, he could recite it from memory.

Legend tells us that Santa Claus was Bishop Nicholas from a town of Myra in the 4th century. He helped the poor through his generosity. Loved by all who knew him for helping those in need, the church would later saint him for his kindness and good deeds. Since that time, around the world, many children do believe that if they are good and kind to all, they will receive gifts from St. Nick at Christmastime.

Santa? Yes, we played the Santa game with him. He will tell you today that Christmases were very special and fun. He still receives Christmas gifts from "Santa", the real one -- Dad! :)

I am doing something different with my granddaughter. I have a small Nativity set. For one week, each day the child opens a gift. Each gift is a piece of the Nativity set. Each piece is explained as the story of the birth of Christ is told. On the seventh and final day the gift contains a mirror, and when its opened , the child see herself/himself in the mirror. You explain that they are a very special gift for Jesus. It's a perfect opportunity to share salvation with them as well.

A few years ago we started a new tradition: the "pickle" hidden in the Christmas tree. Do any of you do that?

Many Christian parents struggle to find creative ways to teach their children the true meaning of Christmas. Maybe you are doing something special to get the message across to your children. I would love to hear what what you're doing. Also, if you have any family traditions that you want to share, that would be fun to learn as well.

However you celebrate, family fun and traditions, along with the real reason for the Christmas season, make for a wonderful holiday full of warmth, joy and peace of heart!



Beth said...

Fun! my boys are getting older and this would make a great transition idea for them this year.

Anonymous said...

This is a great idea! I'm going to print this out! :)

annie's eyes said...

Sherry, these are wonderful ideas to keep Christ first in Christmas. We told the kids several things in advancing stages. We made Jesus birthday cake, and always gave to another child exactly their age and let them pick out something they really wanted and so we could emphasize giving not the receiving. I wanted them to know the truth, so as they asked, I told them since they were old enough to understand the true meaning of Christmas in Christ, they didn't need a Santa to personify that to them. Yet they still got presents from Santa, just for fun. It seemed to help keep the "secret" for other kids and not diminish the true meaning of Christmas. Love this post. I need to save it for my own grandkids some day. You are a great grandma. Love, Annette

valerie said...

Christmas is my very favorite holiday. It's such a sweet time in so many ways.

My kids believed in Santa and we always left him cookies and Pepsi :) but when they asked me the truth I told them. I made sure they didn't spoil it for their friends who still believed.

Of course we had the little nativity scenes all over the house and they heard the Christmas story throughout the season. They definitely knew Jesus is the reason for the season.

I love your idea.

I'll see you on Thurs.!

Anonymous said...

You've got some creative ideas...thanks for sharing! I can't wait for Christmas. I think I enjoy the holidays more than my kids.

TCKK said...

You have some great ideas for sharing Christmas with your kids. Mine are older now, but we taught them about Jesus and about Santa. As they got a little older the older one would ask if Santa was real and we'd say be sure you want to know and then we'll answer your question. Usually she would drop it then. I think she really knew, but wanted to believe in him a little longer. This went on for a couple of years. Of course, when she finally knew for sure, she told her sister, so she didn't get to believe as long.
It was always a little hard to know how to deal with the Santa stuff. We loved it and wanted them to have the fun of believing in Santa as we did as children. But most of all we made sure they knew about Jesus and that He was what Christmas was all about. I think they got it.