Teaching Your Children the Meaning of Christmas

Nativity_tree2011[1]Let me be the first to admit, so far I’ve done nothing overtly “spiritual” to prepare my kids for Christmas.  They’ve watched me wrap gifts, helped me break ornaments—I mean decorate the tree, and endured multiple trips to multiple stores.  All the while the thought lingers—what am I teaching my kids about the meaning of Christmas?  It’s a heavy thought, drooping from my heart like a ten pound ornament on a spindly branch.  Why so weighty?  Because teaching our children the meaning behind Christmas is eternally significant, yet radically counter-cultural.

Think about it—amid glitter and sequins, parties and stuff we are suppose to teach them that Christmas is about a baby so destitute He was born in a barn.  A baby who would one day grow into a Man who preached radical self-denial.  A Man declaring that all who follow Him must give up everything.

Somehow toy laptops and princess Lego towers just don’t seem to drive that message home.  Is there anything inherently sinful about giving your kids toy laptops and princess Lego towers?  Of course not!  But along with the gifts this Christmas, I want to give my children a gospel-centered worldview.  The approach we’ve chosen to take is very simple, mostly because our children are so young (1 and 3).  We have 2 goals: to drive home the meaning of Christmas with words and with actions.

  1. WORDS—I know I said I haven’t done anything overtly “spiritual” in preparing my kids for Christmas, but I suppose the one thing we have begun to do is talk.  (I realized just how much talking we’ve been doing when Aubrey proudly announced that her Mae Mae is a sinner.  Granddaddy was tickled.)  So far we’ve been having many passing conversations about the fact that everyone is sinful and in need of Jesus, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas.  But as a family we want to become more intentional in our talk, having sit-down moments to read through picture books, and re-tell the Christmas story using nativity figurines.
  2. ACTIONS—Our second goal is to complete one family service project.  Again, because our kids are so young, this will be fairly simple.  Our favorite idea so far is to let Aubrey draw pictures of the Christmas story (Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus).  I will write a simple sentence or two above the pictures.  Then we will make cookies together and pass them out around the neighborhood, letting Aubrey hand out one of her picture cards (along with a track).  We want to teach her not only that we give to others because Jesus has given so much to us, but also that it’s important to tell others about the special gift of Jesus.  (Heidi’s role in the project will be to hold down the wagon 🙂 )

Depending on the age of your kids, here are some other ideas for having a gospel-centered Christmas:

The Grateful Christmas Project—Ann Voskamp shares her family’s practice of forgoing personal gifts in order to buy gifts for Jesus from various outreach catalogues.  She also includes 7 practical ideas for cultivating gratitude in your children.

Practical Ways to Reach Out to Others During the Holidays—Lindsay shares 6 simple ideas for extending generosity toward others as a family.

Truth in the Tinsel: An Advent Experience for Little Hands—This popular new ebook includes daily activities, crafts, and devotionals to teach young children the meaning of Christmas.

What about you?  How does your family celebrate the birth of Christ?  As always, I welcome new ideas and fresh inspiration!

2 thoughts on “Teaching Your Children the Meaning of Christmas

  1. One idea that we had, that we are going to try for the first time this year, is having a birthday party for Jesus on Christmas. My daughter loves birthday parties, what better way to focus on Jesus on this very special day. I haven’t come up with all the details, but there will be a cake or cupcakes. After reading your blog on this, we must include the Christmas Story. Hopefully I can find a kid friendly version.

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