The excitement of Christmas has already begun at our house. Our California children are flying in next week for the month, the tree is decorated, the Christmas lists are made out, and soon the baking, shopping, and parties will be in full swing. It is so easy in all this activity to let the real meaning of Christmas go unmentioned. We adults know that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday but how are our children going to know unless we tell them. They may see this only as a time when all the relatives get together or there’s lots of goodies to eat or everyone gives them gifts.
Enjoy the traditional practices of Christmas. Don’t be so different from the world that the world wouldn’t want what you have. An old English historical writing contains a letter from Pope Gregory to Saint Mellitus, who was on his way to England to do missionary work among the pagan Anglo-Saxons. Pope Gregory suggested that converting heathens would go easier if they were allowed to keep some of their traditional practices, while reinterpreting those traditions spiritually towards the Christian God instead of to their pagan ‘devils’.
Today we as Christians should hear what Pope Gregory said and enjoy the traditions of the world, but be sure to give them Spiritual meaning for our families. Make every effort to teach the real meaning of Christmas through everything you do:
- While decorating the tree share that the evergreen tree reminds us of the everlasting love Jesus has for us. The tree is like a big birthday cake for Jesus and the lights are the candles. The lights remind us that Jesus is the Light of the world and that “God lights our darkness” (2 Samuel 22:29)
- While wrapping gifts share “It is better to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35) Point out that because it is Jesus’ birthday we give gifts. Jesus said when we give to one another it is the same as giving to him. (And the King will tell them, ‘I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ Matthew 25:40) Share “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). Make sure your children are involved in making or purchasing gifts to give so they are not just on the receiving end of the gifts. Also point out that giving is not only things, but he can give love, friendship, help, and joy.
- Make the manger scene central in your decorations. Be sure your children hear the Christmas story from the Bible often. It’s fine to tell them the pretend stories of Santa and elves, Rudolph and Frosty, but be sure to tell the true story of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, angels, Shepherds, etc. Also help them understand the true story of Santa. He loved Jesus so much that he wanted to give to others. A good book about Santa is “Santa, Are You for Real? “ by Harold Myra.
Check Train Up The Child for ways to relate the real Reason for the Season to traditional seasonal objects. Just search on the site for ‘Christmas’, ‘Keeping Christ in Christmas’, or for a traditional object (ex. Santa, trees, wreaths, mistletoe, etc.)