During this Christmas Season it would be interesting if every parent could somehow enter the mind of their child and discover what their children were thinking about relative to Christmas. But since this is not possible the only thing a parent can do is try to make the season as meaningful for the child as they can and hope that the conclusions their child draws are loftier and more noble then the, “What presents will I get?” understanding of Christmas.
The following article is intended to give parents some ideas on how to tackle this “information adventure” to help children find that special “Sprit of Christmas” that we all know intuitively is what Christmas is all about. To do this I will state some basic assumptions about Christmas and then list some activities and ideas that will help parents “teach” their children some of the foundation concepts that children can build on to create their own “meaning of Christmas” and provide memories that children can point to as they mature that will continue to assist them all their life to rekindle and expand their concept of what Christmas is all about.
· The first assumption about Christmas is that your family celebrates Christmas because you are Christian. This means that the birth and life of Jesus Christ is important to you. Otherwise why celebrate?
· Another assumption about Christmas is that you want your children to learn about and incorporate into their life the principals of love, compassion, discipline, and hope that are taught by Christ and Christian Churches.
· The final assumption is that you are committed to spending time with your children to help them develop an understanding of the life of the person whose birthday we celebrate on Christmas. In this process it is assumed that you want to share and pass on what you have learned relative to the life of Christ. It is assumed that you would like to help your children learn to look to Jesus Christ when they struggle, as all people do, with the most important questions concerning our existence here on this earth and the meaning of it all. I assume you want to impress on your children the importance of gaining spiritual insight and understanding.
Christmas will be a meaningless ritual that is fun and similar to a big, selfish, birthday party unless you as a parent know why the day is celebrated and help your children make it a day to remember because of Who we remember on this day not what we do on this day. Here are some activities and ideas that you may choose t o incorporate into your special Christmas Celebration. I hope they help you to make Christmas what you want it to be for your family.
· On Christmas Day or Christmas Eve gather your family for a special time of Christmas carols, a reading of the Christmas story, or a discussion of what Christmas means to each of you. If you have little ones have them act out the Christmas story while you read from the New Testament. You may want to let your children know how important the birth of the Savior is to you.
· Establish some family traditions. An idea for this might be to bake a birthday cake and celebrate the birthday of Jesus just like you would other birthdays. Another idea would be to give a bulb for the Christmas tree to each of your children each year. Then they will have enough bulbs to decorate their first Christmas tree when they are on their own. Still another idea would be to start the day Christmas day by eating a special meal that is only served on Christmas. The food served could be symbolic of Christmas such as green and red pancakes with a hole in the middle making them look like wreaths. You may want to discuss the reason Christmas is celebrated at this meal.
· Have a family Christmas Party in which you sing songs, have a talent show, read the scriptures, play games, have Santa visit, etc. This is a good idea even if you have kids living away from home. They can all get together on a day other then Christmas which will enable them to enjoy the whole family at Christmas time and spend time with their own children on Christmas day.
· Decide that you will not purchase gifts on Christmas. After all the person who should get gifts in Jesus since it is His birthday. Or, if you do give gifts, make the stipulation that they must be gifts that are hand made, not purchased by the person giving the gift. This enables even the little ones, or those with limited funds, to find joy in giving rather then receiving.
· Choose a night as a family to go caroling to the houses of friends or neighbors. You could even bake cookies or some other food and give this gift to them as a present when you visit them.
· A variation of the last idea is to “Pixie” other families by making them some baked goods or making them a special gift. Park down the street from their house and have the children sneak up to the door, leave the gift, ring the doorbell, and get back to the car without being caught.
· Set aside time to let your children know what your beliefs are relative to Jesus Christ. Make it a special time together around the tree or after a church service. Your children will create their own belief and feelings about the Christ. But as they decide who they are and what they believe, they will have no doubt in their mind about what you believe and why you believe what you do. Your beliefs will give them a spring board from which to develop their own beliefs and relationship with the Savior.
It is hoped that these suggestions will help you to make your family Christmas a meaningful one and that you will know what to do to communicate the joy and peace that comes from celebrating the birth of Christ.